Formation of R & D alliances in the Chinese mobile telephony industry

Publication Date01 Jun 2015
AuthorJun Jin,Max von Zedtwitz,Li Choy Chong
SubjectEconomics,International economics
Formation of R&D alliances
in the Chinese mobile
telephony industry
Jun Jin
School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou,
People’s Republic of China
Max von Zedtwitz
GLORAD Center for Global R&D and Innovation,
Kaunas Technological University, Kaunas, Lithuania, and
Li Choy Chong
Asia Research Centre, FIM-HSG, University of St. Gallen,
St. Gallen, Switzerland
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate how international R&D alliances are formed
during industry transition from the point of view of the local Chinese partner.
Design/methodology/approach – Review of industry data provided by Chinese Statistical Ofce
coupled with four in-depth case studies.
Findings – The nature of the technology, the characteristics of partners and the previous cooperation
experience between partners are signicantly related to the R&D alliance formation. The research also
suggests that during this fast-growing transition period, Chinese local rms preferred non-equity
contractual agreements over equity joint venture such as R&D alliance modes, and Chinese local rms
favoured American and European multinational corporations (MNCs) as their alliance partners over
MNCs from other countries, including the highly developed Japan and Korea.
Research limitations/implications – Single-industry focus (telecommunications), and anonymization
of cases because of condentiality of case rms. Single-country focus (China).
Practical implications Firms in China and other emerging countries can improve their
technological capability (TC) by choice to facilitate future alliance formation to access and learn the
latest technology from their alliance partners, especially during the transition period of an industry and
when mature and emerging technologies co-exist.
Originality/value – This paper renes alliance theory by focusing on an industry in transition and
analyses formation decision factors from the point of view of the smaller domestic partner – usually
studies do not differentiate as to industry maturity and inequality between partners.
Keywords R&D, Alliances, Industry transition
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Strategic alliances, particularly R&D alliances, have become a cornerstone of global
competition. Alliances in innovation have always played a vital role in new product
development (de la Mothe and Link, 2002;Wang and Rajagopalan, 2015), the
improvement of technological capabilities (TCs) (Yao et al., 2013) and competitive
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Journalof Chinese Economic and
ForeignTrade Studies
Vol.8 No. 2, 2015
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JCEFTS-02-2015-0011

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