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Global Production Networks and Local Institution Building: The Development of the Information-Technology Industry in Suzhou, China


  • Jenn-Hwan Wang

    (Sun Yat-Sen Graduate Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, National Chengchi University, No. 64, Section 2, Chih-Nan Road, Taipei 11605, Taiwan, ROC)

  • Chuan-Kai Lee

    (Department of Urban Planning, National Chengkung University, 1 University Road, Taiwan 701, Taiwan, ROC)


We discuss how global production networks interact with local institutions to shape the ways in which economic development occurs within a region; the region concerned being the Suzhou municipality in China. We argue that the development of Suzhou's information-technology industry has largely resulted from (1) the transformation of global production networks in the 1990s, in which Taiwanese firms played an important role; (2) the local states' active role in transforming local institutions to fit the needs of foreign firms; and (3) Taiwanese investors' engagement in mediating and transplanting related institutions into the locality to meet the demand of global logistics for speed and flexibility. All these have resulted in Suzhou municipality's rapid growth in the information-technology industry and its embeddedness in the fusion of the global and local contexts. However, we will also demonstrate that the power asymmetry of global players and local states in this area has resulted in the creation of industrial clusters that are institutionally embedded but technologically delinked from the localities.

Suggested Citation

  • Jenn-Hwan Wang & Chuan-Kai Lee, 2007. "Global Production Networks and Local Institution Building: The Development of the Information-Technology Industry in Suzhou, China," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 39(8), pages 1873-1888, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envira:v:39:y:2007:i:8:p:1873-1888

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    Cited by:

    1. Chun Yang & Canfei He, 2017. "Transformation of China's ‘World Factory’: Production Relocation and Export Evolution of the Electronics Firms," Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG, vol. 108(5), pages 571-591, October.
    2. Yuan Yuan & Hongbo Li & Xiaolin Zhang & Xiaoliang Hu & Yahua Wang, 2019. "Emerging Location-Based Service Data on Perceiving and Measuring Multifunctionality of Rural Space: A Study of Suzhou, China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(20), pages 1-18, October.
    3. Chih-Chin Ho & Hui-Lin Lin & Chih-Hai Yang & Ya-Pin Lyu, 2017. "Productivity Catch-up Between Chinese and Taiwanese Electronics Firms," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(4), pages 533-553, October.
    4. Chen, Liang-Chih, 2015. "Building extra-regional networks for regional innovation systems: Taiwan's machine tool industry in China," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 107-117.
    5. Yi Liu & Yutian Liang & Shiping Ma & Kaixuan Huang, 2017. "Divergent Developmental Trajectories and Strategic Coupling in the Pearl River Delta: Where Is a Sustainable Way of Regional Economic Growth?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(10), pages 1-15, October.
    6. Chao-Tung Wen & Jun-Ming Chen, 2014. "Taiwan: linkage-based Clusters of Innovation – the case of Taiwan’s IT industry," Chapters, in: Jerome S. Engel (ed.), Global Clusters of Innovation, chapter 9, pages 222-246, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Tain- Jy Chen & Ying- Hua Ku, 2013. "Global production networks and the Kunshan ICT cluster: the role of Taiwanese MNCs," Chapters, in: Peter C.Y. Chow (ed.), Economic Integration Across the Taiwan Strait, chapter 8, pages 170-196, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Y. H. Dennis Wei, 2015. "Network Linkages and Local Embeddedness of Foreign Ventures in China: The Case of Suzhou Municipality," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(2), pages 287-299, February.

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