Government in the catching-up of technology innovation: Case of administrative intervention in China

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This paper advances the extant knowledge of the mechanism of government intervention in technology innovation, especially that in the catching-up context. It forms a three-layer theoretical framework and further uses it to analyze a case of the standardization of TD-SCDMA, a third generation (3G) of mobile system, in China. The findings validate the argument that in technology development and technology diffusion stages, there are different innovation task foci and different challenges, which require the government taking a mix of regulative, financial and administrative instruments to intervene. The government needs to draw upon the institutional environment, R&D and industrialization capability and the technology characteristics of the innovation in identifying the innovation tasks and challenges, and determining the intervention strategy. In the catching-up context, when pursuing the indigenous innovation in complex technology, "hard" government intervention is necessary. Especially the government should take advantage of its control of national economy and the industry to explore the potential of intervention using diverse administrative instruments, for example the leading role of state organizations in innovation should be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-14
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Administrative instruments; Catching-up; China; Government intervention mechanism; Mobile system; Standardization; TD-SCDMA; Technology innovation

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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