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Interactive learning, informal networks and innovation: Evidence from electronics firm survey in the Pearl River Delta, China

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  • Fu, Wenying
  • Revilla Diez, Javier
  • Schiller, Daniel

Abstract

Learning by interacting defines the endogenous path of economic development in modern innovation studies. In this paper, we aim to investigate the way that firms undertake interactive learning in the Chinese context by introducing the role of informal Guanxi network. In this way, this paper tries to bridge the gap between studies on firm innovation activities and those on the role of informal network for business performance. Based on an electronics firm survey in the Pearl River Delta, China, this article demonstrates that firms undertaking the highest intensity of interactive learning with the widest scope of business partners, such as foreign customers, domestic customers, parent companies, universities and sales agents, tend to achieve better innovation outcomes. It also verifies a more important role of interactive learning in incremental product innovation than in discontinuous innovation as electronics firms operate in highly modularized value chains. Furthermore, the intensive interactive learning firms have a much higher tendency to apply informal Guanxi networks with long-term business partners as a complement to deficient formal institutions in interactive learning than other firms. Overall, this paper contributes to the understanding of the form and effect of interactive learning in the Chinese context. Finally, the paper addresses the possible lock-in issue and points out further research questions on the changing pattern of interactive learning within a maturing institutional framework.

Suggested Citation

  • Fu, Wenying & Revilla Diez, Javier & Schiller, Daniel, 2013. "Interactive learning, informal networks and innovation: Evidence from electronics firm survey in the Pearl River Delta, China," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 635-646.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:42:y:2013:i:3:p:635-646
    DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2012.09.006
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    Cited by:

    1. Ferreira, João J.M. & Fernandes, Cristina I. & Alves, Helena & Raposo, Mário L., 2015. "Drivers of innovation strategies: Testing the Tidd and Bessant (2009) model," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 68(7), pages 1395-1403.
    2. repec:kap:jtecht:v:42:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10961-016-9513-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Susanne Meyer & Javier Revilla Diez, 2015. "One country, two systems: How regional institutions shape governance modes in the greater Pearl River Delta, China," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(4), pages 891-900, November.
    4. Natalja Apanasovich, 2016. "Modes of Innovation: A Grounded Meta-Analysis," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 7(3), pages 720-737, September.
    5. Jia, Fu & Rutherford, Christine & Lamming, Richard, 2016. "Cultural adaptation and socialisation between Western buyers and Chinese suppliers: The formation of a hybrid culture," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1246-1261.
    6. Anastasios KARAMANOS, 2015. "The Effects of Knowledge from Collaborations on the Exploitative and Exploratory Innovation Output of Greek SMEs," Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy Journal, College of Management, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, vol. 3(3), pages 361-380, September.
    7. repec:spr:jecfin:v:42:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s12197-017-9398-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Aiqi Wu & Cassandra C. Wang & Shengxiao Li, 2015. "Geographical knowledge search, internal R&D intensity and product innovation of clustering firms in Zhejiang, China," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(3), pages 553-572, August.
    9. Ning, Lutao & Wang, Fan & Li, Jian, 2016. "Urban innovation, regional externalities of foreign direct investment and industrial agglomeration: Evidence from Chinese cities," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 830-843.
    10. Wang, Cassandra C. & Wu, Aiqi, 2016. "Geographical FDI knowledge spillover and innovation of indigenous firms in China," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 895-906.

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