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A Divergent Path of Industrial Upgrading: Emergence and Evolution of the Mobile Handset Industry in China

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  • Imai, Ken'ichi
  • Shiu, Jingming
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Abstract

Starting from almost null in the late 1990s, China's mobile phone handset industry has grown to account for more than 40 percent of the current world production. While export growth has been overwhelmingly led by multi-national corporations (MNCs), increasingly fierce competition in the domestic market ignited by the advent of local handset makers has induced unique industrial evolution: (1) outgrowth of independent design houses specialized in handset development and (2) emergence of IC fabless ventures that design core ICs for handsets. In the background of this evolutionary industrial growth there are factors such as, the scale and increasing diversity of China's domestic market that advantages local firms vis-a-vis MNCs; modularization of handset and semiconductor technologies; policy interventions that supports local startups. The emergence and evolution of China's handset industry is likely to have international implications as the growth of the global demand for low-cost and multi-function mobile phone handsets is expected to accelerate. Thus, our case suggests that the conventional view of latecomer industrialization and upgrading that emphasizes the key role of international production networks organized by MNCs needs to be modified in order to accommodate China's rise into perspective.

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File URL: http://ir.ide.go.jp/dspace/bitstream/2344/640/3/ARRIDE_Discussion_No.125_imai.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO) in its series IDE Discussion Papers with number 125.

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Date of creation: Oct 2007
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Publication status: Published in IDE Discussion Paper. No. 125. 2007.10
Handle: RePEc:jet:dpaper:dpaper125

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Keywords: Industrial upgrading; China; Telephone; Information services industry;

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References

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  1. Imai, Ken'ichi, 2006. "Explaining the Persistence of State-ownership in China," IDE Discussion Papers 64, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
  2. Hobday, Mike, 1995. "East Asian latecomer firms: Learning the technology of electronics," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(7), pages 1171-1193, July.
  3. Dieter Ernst & Paolo Guerrieri, 1998. "International production networks and changing trade patterns in East Asia: The case of the electronics industry," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(2), pages 191-212.
  4. Dieter Ernst & Paolo Guerrieri, 1997. "International Production Networks And Changing Trade Patterns In East Asia The Case Of The Electronics Industry," DRUID Working Papers 97-7, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  5. Ernst, Dieter & Guerrieri, Paolo, 1998. "International Production Networks and Changing Trade Patterns in East Asia: The Case of the Electronics Industry," UCAIS Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy, Working Paper Series qt3f55c124, UCAIS Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy, UC Berkeley.
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Cited by:
  1. Kimura, Koichiro, 2009. "The Technology Gap and the Growth of the Firm: A Case Study of China's Mobile-phone Handset Industry," IDE Discussion Papers 214, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
  2. Sturgeon, Timothy J. & Kawakami, Momoko, 2010. "Global value chains in the electronics industry : was the crisis a window of opportunity for developing countries ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5417, The World Bank.
  3. Kawakami, Momoko, 2008. "Exploiting the Modularity of Value Chains: Inter-firm Dynamics of the Taiwanese Notebook PC Industry," IDE Discussion Papers 146, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).

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