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The technological system of production and innovation: The case of photovoltaic technology in China

Mahmood H. Shubbak

Research Policy, 2019, vol. 48, issue 4, 993-1015

Abstract: This research paper studies the Chinese technological system of production and innovation in the field of photovoltaics (PV). It contributes to a better understanding of the emergence and development of the system by utilizing three levels of analysis: the institutional framework of the system, the market dynamics of production and deployment, and the composition of innovation-related activities. The analysis demonstrates the interrelated roles of transnational factors, local government policies, and research and development (R&D) activities undertaken by the main actors in shaping the system dynamics. Tracking the relative position of China in the global PV manufacturing, installation and technological development, the analysis shows a gap between the growth of China’s market share and its modest share of transnational patent applications. This suggests a puzzle, which the paper attempts to answer by inspecting the individual companies in the system against four aspects. First, the dynamic development of their size and performance. Second, the nature of their international involvement through foreign direct investment and mergers and acquisition deals. Third, their technological specialization within the PV value chain over time. Fourth, the spatial scope of their patenting protection endeavours. The analysis recognises four periods of system development driven jointly by market dynamics and government plans. Behind the continuous growth of the system, there were different driving and moderating factors in each period.

Keywords: Sectoral innovation system; Solar photovoltaics; Institutions; Crystalline-silicon market; Patent analysis; Environment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L11 O31 O38 Q42 Q48 Q55 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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