Innovation: From Europe to China
Kiel, 28 - 29 October 2011
‘To innovate or die’ is the mantra of many firms who owe their competitive edge (lower costs through innovative production processes) or attractive product offerings to their use of state-of-the art technologies. What most economists agree on is that innovation and technological progress is the traditional domain of the developed Western countries. Countries like the US, Germany, Japan or France are understood to have the most advanced R&D, multinational firms and skilled labor. Developing countries, like China, are expected to imitate Western best practice.
Up until recently, Chinese innovations ‘piggybacked’ on Western-based innovation mainly through the ubiquity of machines and equipment imported from Western economies. Such are (or rather were) the rules of the game. However there is a wind of change in emerging economies like China. Their policy makers have become more ambitious. They are now aspiring for innovation leadership status or at least a reduced dependence on foreign technologies. China is already ranked 3rd in the world in terms of R&D spending.
A key driver of this seismic change in China is the perceived urgency of weaning China off imported foreign technology and the need to shift its export structure from low-cost manufacturing to high technology, where presently foreign multinationals dominate with a 90 percent export share. China is no longer happy to maintain a long-term growth strategy based on cheap and available labor alone. Chinese know-how will play an ever greater role in its long-term growth.
This global shift of R&D and innovation capabilities towards emerging economies like China is a wake-up call to technologically advanced countries like the US or Germany. It is also a call to economists to take a fresh look at where and how innovations are going to be produced in the future, and how the future international division of labor in the development of new products and processes may look like.
This workshop aims to bring together leading economists from Europe and China who are expected to contribute significantly to our understanding of the causes and consequences of this global shift of R&D and innovation capabilities towards emerging economies. It will offer these researchers an inspiring forum for sharing their recent research with each other, discussing new ideas for promising future research avenues, and identifying opportunities for future collaborative research.