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Upgrading of Symbolic and Synthetic Knowledge Bases: Analysis of the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industry and the Automotive Industry in China

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  • Jan van der Borg

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University Of Venice Cà Foscari)

  • Erwin van Tuijl

    (HIS and RHV, Erasmus University Rotterdam)

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    Abstract

    The degree and the way of upgrading differ widely per industry. This article tries to give some new insights in these differences by linking the concept of upgrading to that of the knowledge base. Moreover, we try to identify barriers to upgrading as well as the appropriate spatial scale on which upgrading takes place, again for different knowledge bases. We support our argument by analysing the process of upgrading in two industries in China: the AEC industry (in Beijing and Shanghai) and the automotive industry (in Shanghai). Within these industries we focus on upgrading on two levels: within firms and within projects. Our findings for both industries suggest that the principal ways of upgrading of the symbolic knowledge base are joint brainstorming in internal and external project teams and labour mobility. Major factors that hinder the upgrading of symbolic knowledge include the development stage of China, the Chinese educational system and tensions about duplication of western designs. Upgrading of the synthetic knowledge base takes mainly place via inter-company training programmes of foreign firms, technology transfer and labour mobility on the long run. A possible barrier for upgrading of synthetic knowledge, especially in the automotive industry, is that foreign firms tend to keep certain engineering activities in their home base because of the risk of knowledge leakage. However, this is changing quickly as many foreign carmakers and their suppliers invest in engineering centres in China due to an increasing demand for cars, to governmental regulations and to intensifying competition.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari" in its series Working Papers with number 2011_25.

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    Length: 36
    Date of creation: 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ven:wpaper:2011_25

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    Keywords: Urban development; upgrading; automotive industry; AEC industry; knowledge economy; China.;

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    1. Kaplinsky, Raphael & Messner, Dirk, 2008. "Introduction: The Impact of Asian Drivers on the Developing World," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 197-209, February.
    2. Giuliani, Elisa & Pietrobelli, Carlo & Rabellotti, Roberta, 2005. "Upgrading in Global Value Chains: Lessons from Latin American Clusters," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 549-573, April.
    3. Li, Yong & Oberheitmann, Andreas, 2009. "Challenges of rapid economic growth in China: Reconciling sustainable energy use, environmental stewardship and social development," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 1412-1422, April.
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    6. Jerker Moodysson & Lars Coenen & Bj�rn Asheim, 2008. "Explaining spatial patterns of innovation: analytical and synthetic modes of knowledge creation in the Medicon Valley life-science cluster," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 40(5), pages 1040-1056, May.
    7. Robert C. Kloosterman, 2008. "Walls and bridges: knowledge spillover between 'superdutch' architectural firms," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(4), pages 545-563, July.
    8. Gereffi, Gary, 1999. "International trade and industrial upgrading in the apparel commodity chain," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 37-70, June.
    9. Raphael Kaplinsky & Jeff Readman, 2005. "Globalization and upgrading: what can (and cannot) be learnt from international trade statistics in the wood furniture sector?," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(4), pages 679-703, August.
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