, Volume 91, Issue 3, pp 773–787 | Cite as

Mapping technological innovations through patent analysis: a case study of foreign multinationals and indigenous firms in China



This study attempts to expand the work on patenting activities of China. The characteristics of foreign multinationals and indigenous entities’ patenting activities in the US patent system are examined in our analysis. This study also attempts to model the diffusion trajectories of patenting activities that result from the functioning of two competing innovation system models adopted by China-FDI and indigenous—to compare the extent of divergence of technological innovations. The findings are useful for highlighting the path of technological innovations and understanding the dynamic potentials through analysis of the growth process. While the results suggest a dominance of foreign firms in patenting activities since the early 2000s, there is a sign of transition from industrial-based to knowledge-driven activities and the formation of evolving propagating behaviour in the production of indigenous technology.


Technological innovations Growth Patents Foreign multinationals Indigenous entities China 


  1. Amsden, A. (1989). Asia’s next giant: South Korea and late industrialization. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Amsden, A. (2001). The rise of the rest: Challenges to the west from late-industrializing economies. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Amsden, A., Liu, D., & Zhang, X. (1996). China’s macro economy, environment, and alternative transition model. World Development, 24(2), 273–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Archibugi, D., & Pietrobelli, C. (2003). The globalisation of technology and its implications for developing countries, windows of opportunity or further burden? Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 70(9), 861–883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bengisu, M., & Nekhili, R. (2005). Forecasting emerging technologies with the aid of science and technology databases. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 73(7), 835–844.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bhattacharya, S. (2004). Mapping inventive activity and technological change through patent analysis: A case study of India and China. Scientometrics, 61(3), 361–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chang, H.-J. (2003). Globalisation, economic development and the role of the state. London: Zed.Google Scholar
  8. Dachs, B., Mahlich, J. C., & Zahradnik, G. (2007). The technological competencies of Korea’s firms: A patent analysis. In J. Mahlich & W. Pascha (Eds.), Innovation and technology in Korea (pp. 127–146). New York: Physica-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Devezas, T. C., Linstone, H. A., & Santos, H. J. S. (2005). The growth dynamics of the internet and the long wave theory. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 72(8), 913–935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Edgerton, D. (2007). The contradictions of techno-nationalism and techno-globalism: A historical perspective. New Global Studies, 1(1), 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Evans, P. (1995). Embedded autonomy—states and industrial transformation. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Fai, F. M. (2005). Using intellectual property data to analyse China’s growing technology capabilities. World Patent Information, 27(1), 49–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Feng, K., & Lu, F. (2010). Cognition, learning and capability building: A trilogy of Chinese indigenous telecom-equipment industry. Kuala Lumpur: Presented at 8th globelics international conference, 1–3 Nov 2010.Google Scholar
  14. Gallagher, K. P., & Shafaeddin, M. (2010). Policies for industrial learning in China and Mexico. Technology in Society, 32(2), 81–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grubler, A., Nakicenovic, N., & Victor, D. G. (1999). Dynamics of energy technologies and global change. Energy Policy, 27(5), 247–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grupp, H. (1994). The dynamics of science-based innovation reconsidered: Cognitive models and statistical findings. In O. Granstrand (Ed.), Economics of technology (pp. 223–251). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  17. Grupp, H. (1996). Spillover effects and the science-based of innovations reconsidered: An empirical approach. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 6(2), 175–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grupp, H. (1998). Foundations of economics of innovation: Theory, measurement and practice. Northampton: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  19. Gu, S. (1999). China’s industrial technology: Market reform and organizational change. London: Routledge and the UNU Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gu, S., & Lundvall, B.-A. (2006). Policy learning as a key process in the transformation of the Chinese innovation systems. In B.-A. Lundvall, P. Intarakumnerd, & J. Vang (Eds.), Asia’s innovation systems in transition (pp. 293–312). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  21. Heilmann, S. (2008). Policy experimentation in China’s economic rise. Studies in Comparative International Development, 43(1), 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hu, M.-C., & Mathews, J. A. (2008). China’s national innovative capacity. Research Policy, 37(9), 1465–1479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jian, S. (2008). Awakening: Evolution of China’s science and technology policy. Technology in Society, 30(3), 235–241.MATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kondo, M. (1990). Japanese R&D in robotics and genetic engineering. In J. Sigurdson (Ed.), Measuring the dynamics of technological change (pp. 130–145). London: Pinter.Google Scholar
  25. Kostoff, R., Briggs, M. B., Rushenberg, R. L., Bowles, C. A., Pecht, M., Johnson, D., et al. (2007). Comparisons of the structure and infrastructure of Chinese and Indian science and technology. Technology Forecasting and Social Change, 74(9), 1609–1630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kumaresan, N., & Miyazaki, K. (1999). An integrated network approach to systems of innovation: The case of robotics in Japan. Research Policy, 28(6), 563–585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mahmood, I. P., & Singh, J. (2003). Technological dynamism in Asia. Research Policy, 32(2003), 1031–1054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mathews, J. H. (1992). Bounded population growth: A curve fitting lesson. Mathematics and Computer Education, 26(2), 169–176.MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  29. Mathews, J., & Hu, M.-C. (2007). Universities and public research institutions as driver of economic development in Asia. In S. Yusuf & K. Nabeshima (Eds.), How universities promote economic growth (pp. 91–109). Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  30. Motohashi, K., & Yun, X. (2007). China’s innovation system reform and growing industry and science linkages. Research Policy, 36(8), 1251–1260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Narula, R., & Wakelin, K. (1998). Technological competitiveness, trade and foreign direct investment. Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, 9(3), 373–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Naughton, B., & Seagal, A. (2003). China in search of a workable model, technology development in the new millennium. In W. W. Keller & R. J. Samuels (Eds.), Crisis and innovation in Asian technology (pp. 160–186). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Patel, P., & Vega, M. (1999). Patterns of internationalisation of corporate technology: Location vs. home country advantages. Research Policy, 28(2/3), 145–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pavitt, K. (1984). Sectoral patterns of technical change: Towards a taxonomy and a theory. Research Policy, 13(6), 343–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pavitt, K. (1985). Patent statistics as indicators of innovative activities: Possibilities and problems. Scientometrics, 7(1–2), 77–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Perez, C. (2002). Technological revolutions and financial capital: The dynamics of bubbles and golden ages. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  37. Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  38. Schmoch, U. (1997). Indicators and the relations between science and technology. Scientometrics, 38(1), 103–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sharif, N., & Huang, C. (2012). Innovation strategy, firm survival and relocation: The case of Hong Kong-owned manufacturing in Guangdong province, China. Research Policy, 41(2012), 69–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Stankiewics, R. (1992). Technology as an autonomous, socio-cognitive system. In H. Grupp (Ed.), Dynamics of science based innovation (pp. 19–44). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  41. Szporluk, R. (1988). Communism and nationalism: Karl Marx versus Friedrich List. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Tang, M., & Hussler, C. (2011). Betting on indigenous innovation or relying on FDI: The Chinese strategy for catching-up. Technology in Society, 33(1–2), 23–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Teubal, M. (1996). R&D and technology policy in NICs as learning processes. World Development, 24(3), 449–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wang, J.-H., & Tsai, C.-J. (2010). National model of technological catching up and innovation: Comparing patents of Taiwan and South Korea. Journal of Development Studies, 46(8), 1404–1423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wong, C.-Y., & Goh, K.-L. (2010). Modeling the behaviour of science and technology: Self-propagating growth in the diffusion process. Scientometrics, 84(3), 669–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Xue, L. (1997). A historical perspective of China’s innovation system reform: A case study. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 14(1), 67–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Xue, L., & Liang, Z. (2010). Relationships between IPR and technology catch-up: Some evidence from China. In H. Odagiri, A. Goto, A. Sunami, & R. R. Nelson (Eds.), Intellectual property rights, development, and catch-up (pp. 317–360). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Zhao, W., Watanabe, C., & Brown, C. G. (2009). Competitive advantage in an industry cluster: The case of Dalian software park in China. Technology in Society, 31(2), 139–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zhou, P., & Leydesdorff, L. (2006). The emergence of China as a leading nation in science. Research Policy, 35(1), 83–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zhou, E.-Y., & Stembridge, B. (2008). Patented in China: The present and future state of innovation in China. United States: Thomson Reuters.Google Scholar
  51. Zhu, B., Asgari, B., & Watanabe, C. (2002). Comparative analysis of institutional elasticity on the effect of energy technology policy: Comparison of diffusion trajectory of PV technology in Japan, the USA and Europe. Taipei: Paper presented at the 5th annual conference on global economic analysis, 5–7 June 2002.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science and Technology Studies, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  2. 2.Faculty of Economics and AdministrationUniversity of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia

Personalised recommendations