China's emerging innovation trajectory
When China's leaders surveyed their development prospects at the onset of the twenty-first century, they reached an increasingly obvious conclusion, namely that their current economic development strategy, heavily dependent on natural resources, fossil fuel, exports based on cheap labour, and extensive capital investment, was no longer viable or attractive. For a range of pressing competitiveness, national security, and sustainability reasons, they decided to shift gears and as a result have embarked on an effort to move their country in the direction of building a so-called “knowledge-based economy”; in this new model, innovation and high-end talent are positioned as the new primary drivers of enhanced economic performance. Underlying this transition also seems to be a rather pervasive sense of urgency about the need for China to catch up more quickly with the rest of the world, especially in terms of science and technology (S&T) capabilities. In fact, the top echelon of Chinese leaders, foremost among them both President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, has recognized that enhancing innovation performance and harnessing the country's huge talent resources are crucial to China's ability to cope with an increasingly competitive international environment, build a comprehensively well-off and harmonious society and, more importantly, consolidate and fortify the ruling base of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
At the core of China's efforts to enhance its R&D capabilities and performance lies the steadily evolving Chinese national innovation system (NIS). Since the 1980s, there has emerged a growing literature in the West regarding the concept of the NIS; this literature has formed the focal point for Chinese efforts at both the national and local level to develop and enhance their own indigenous capabilities, science and technology. China's NIS differs from those in other developed countries, not only in organizational terms (Yifei, 2002), but also in terms of the strategic role of the innovation system in China's efforts to advance its national S&T capabilities. In 2006, the State Council announced the launch of the 15-year “Medium-to-Long-term Plan Outline for the Development of National Science and Technology (2006-2020)” (MLP) to promote more rapidly China's scientific and technological progress (Ministry of Science and Technology of the PRC, 2006). A key goal of the MLP is to “push forward the comprehensive establishment of a national innovation system with Chinese characteristics.” Understanding precisely what is meant by “Chinese characteristics” reveals much about the nature of innovation in China. It also will promote greater understanding of the steadily more pivotal role of the enterprise in driving the overall performance and productivity of China's NIS.
As of 2009, this new, very strong emphasis on innovation, talent and high-end knowledge seems to have begun to pay off, as China has built an indigenous innovation system that is very different from the Soviet-inspired one that existed for most of the Maoist era and well into the era of Deng Xiaoping. In fact, it is increasingly clear that China is now not only better positioned for, but also steadily more confident about, becoming a true technological power on both regional and global levels. In fact, one can now identify several new, emerging pockets of excellence across the spectrum of Chinese industries and technologies. Moreover, it is also obvious to Chinese scientific leaders that the country's recent progress and future potential can be explicitly attributed to the increasing role of the nation's talent assets. It is quite clear that China already has begun to move away from being the so- called “factory to the world.” Increasingly, China is relying more on brainpower than brawn to drive and shape its economic future. In this regard, the rise of China as a global technological power, even taking into account many of the PRC's prevailing shortcomings, is have important consequences for the country internally as well as externally. In this context, we might ask, is China really poised to become a substantial force in global innovation? In which fields is China likely to make its impact felt most? What might be the specific implications for China of having a more dynamic, proactive science and engineering talent pool? And what broad potential impact will China's innovation on global technological competition and international technological advance during the first part of the twenty-first century?
This special issue calls for papers that review and highlight the workings and performance of China's national innovation system at both the macro and micro levels. We are looking precisely for papers that can highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the Chinese innovation system in terms of organizational structure and performance; management of R&D in specific sectors; handling of S&T budgets and financial resources; supply, demand and utilization of scientific and engineering talent; and China's evolving role and positioning in the global innovation system. Both industry and enterprise case studies and technology-oriented research are welcome. Contributions by scholars from Mainland China are particularly encouraged. An internal Chinese perspective on the structure, operation and management of R&D in China from a so-called “insider point of view” will greatly enhance our knowledge about the operation and performance of the innovation system, including both its limits and its potential.
The primary criterion for consideration of publication is that manuscripts should be on research and application, and must be grounded in organizations operating in China. Contributed manuscripts may deal with, but are not restricted to, the following:
* The “culture of creativity” and its limits in the Chinese research environment.
* Innovation and the challenges of technological entrepreneurship.
* Innovative performance of small versus large firms in China.
* Case studies regarding the operation and performance of foreign R&D centres in China.
* The supply, demand and utilization of high end talent, including the role of returnees in altering the innovation environment.
* Case studies of indigenous innovation across one to two technology fields.
* Analysis and assessment of the enterprise R&D environment.
All manuscripts should be prepared according to the Chinese Management Studies author guidelines located at: www.emeraldinsight.com/cms.htm. All papers will be double blind reviewed following the journal's normal review procedure.
The deadline for submission of manuscripts is: 1 April 2010.
Submissions must be made using the ScholarOne Manuscript Central system: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/cms
Please direct enquiries to: Professor Denis Fred Simon, Penn State University: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ministry of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China (2006), ``Medium-to-Long-term Plan Outline for the Development of National Science and Technology (2006-2020) (MLP)'', China Science and Technology Newsletter, No. 456, February 9.
Yifei, S. (2002), ``China's national innovation system in transition'' Eurasian Geography and Economics, Vol. 43, pp. 476-93.
Cao, C., Suttmeier, R.P., and Simon, D. (2006), ``China's 15-year science and technology plan'', Physics Today, December.
Rowen, H.S. (Ed.) (2008), Greater China's Quest for Innovation, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Center, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
Simon, D.F. and Cao, C., China's Emerging Technological Edge: Assessing the Role of High-End Talent, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Suttmeier, R.P., Cao, C. and Simon, D. (2006a), ``China's Super Science Center: knowledge innovation and the remaking of the Chinese Academy of Sciences'', Science, April.
Suttmeier, R.P., Cao, C. and Simon, D. (2006b), ``China's innovation challenge and the re-making of the Chinese Academy of Sciences'', Innovations, December.
Thomson, R.E. and Sigurdson, J. (Eds) (2008), China's Science and Technology Sector, World Scientific Publishing, Singapore.