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China's innovation policies: Evolution, institutional structure, and trajectory


  • Liu, Feng-chao
  • Simon, Denis Fred
  • Sun, Yu-tao
  • Cao, Cong


China has transformed itself from a planning to a market-oriented economy over the past three decades and has sustained a fairly long period of rapid economic growth, to which the contributions from innovation in science and technology (S&T) have become increasingly important. Then, how have China's innovation policies evolved to reflect the changing and supposedly better understanding of innovation by China's policy makers? The paper tries to answer this question through a quantitative analysis of 287 policies issued by China's central government agencies between 1980 and 2005 and of 79 policies introduced between 2006 and 2008 to implement the Medium- and Long-Term Plan for the Development of Science and Technology (2006-2020). China has shifted its S&T and industrial policy-centered innovation strategy and has pursued a series of better coordinated, innovation-oriented economic and technology initiatives that give greater attention to a portfolio of policies that include critical financial, tax, and fiscal measures. There has been a gradual departure from the pattern in which innovation policies are formulated by one single government agency, therefore steering China to a different and probably more promising innovation trajectory.

Suggested Citation

  • Liu, Feng-chao & Simon, Denis Fred & Sun, Yu-tao & Cao, Cong, 2011. "China's innovation policies: Evolution, institutional structure, and trajectory," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 917-931, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:40:y:2011:i:7:p:917-931

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marcus Noland, 2007. "Industrial Policy, Innovation Policy, and Japanese Competitiveness," Working Paper Series WP07-4, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    2. Oecd, 2006. "Governance of Banks in China," Financial Market Trends, OECD Publishing, vol. 2005(2), pages 67-108.
    3. Hadjimanolis, Athanasios & Dickson, Keith, 2001. "Development of national innovation policy in small developing countries: the case of Cyprus," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 805-817, May.
    4. Can Huang & Celeste Amorim & Joaquim Borges Gouveia & Mark Spinoglio & Augusto Medina, 2004. "Organization, Program and Structure: An Analysis of the Chinese Innovation Policy Framework," Working Papers de Economia (Economics Working Papers) 17, Departamento de Economia, Gestão e Engenharia Industrial, Universidade de Aveiro.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wang, Yuandi & Ning, Lutao & Prevezer, Martha, 2015. "Technological diversification in China from 1986 to 2011: Evidence from patent data," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 54-66.
    2. repec:eee:socmed:v:192:y:2017:i:c:p:143-151 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Zhang, Gupeng & Zhou, Jianghua, 2016. "The effects of forward and reverse engineering on firm innovation performance in the stages of technology catch-up: An empirical study of China," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 212-222.
    4. Ponomariov, Branco & Toivanen, Hannes, 2014. "Knowledge flows and bases in emerging economy innovation systems: Brazilian research 2005–2009," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 588-596.
    5. Liu, Xiaohui & Hodgkinson, Ian R. & Chuang, Fu-Mei, 2014. "Foreign competition, domestic knowledge base and innovation activities: Evidence from Chinese high-tech industries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 414-422.
    6. Kafouros, Mario & Wang, Chengqi & Piperopoulos, Panagiotis & Zhang, Mingshen, 2015. "Academic collaborations and firm innovation performance in China: The role of region-specific institutions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 803-817.
    7. repec:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:1:p:232-240 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Li, Changhong & Shi, Yulin & Wu, Cong & Wu, Zhenyu & Zheng, Li, 2016. "Policies of promoting entrepreneurship and Angel Investment: Evidence from China," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 154-167.
    9. Zhi, Qiang & Su, Jun & Ru, Peng & Anadon, Laura Diaz, 2013. "The evolution of China's National Energy RD&D Programs: The role of scientists in science and technology decision making," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 1568-1585.
    10. Dang, Jangwei & Motohashi, Kazuyuki, 2013. "Patent statistics: a good indicator for innovation in China? Assessment of impacts of patent subsidy programs on patent quality," MPRA Paper 56184, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Boeing, Philipp, 2016. "The allocation and effectiveness of China’s R&D subsidies - Evidence from listed firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(9), pages 1774-1789.
    12. repec:eee:tefoso:v:122:y:2017:i:c:p:107-118 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Boeing, Philipp & Mueller, Elisabeth & Sandner, Philipp, 2016. "China's R&D explosion—Analyzing productivity effects across ownership types and over time," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 159-176.
    14. Dang, Jianwei & Motohashi, Kazuyuki, 2015. "Patent statistics: A good indicator for innovation in China? Patent subsidy program impacts on patent quality," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 137-155.
    15. Goess, Simon & de Jong, Martin & Ravesteijn, Wim, 2015. "What makes renewable energy successful in China? The case of the Shandong province solar water heater innovation system," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 684-696.
    16. Prud’homme, Dan, 2016. "Dynamics of China’s provincial-level specialization in strategic emerging industries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1586-1603.
    17. Guan, JianCheng & Yam, Richard C.M., 2015. "Effects of government financial incentives on firms’ innovation performance in China: Evidences from Beijing in the 1990s," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 273-282.
    18. Chen, Ling & Naughton, Barry, 2016. "An institutionalized policy-making mechanism: China’s return to techno-industrial policy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 2138-2152.
    19. repec:spr:scient:v:93:y:2012:i:2:d:10.1007_s11192-012-0687-8 is not listed on IDEAS


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