Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-rvbq7 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-14T11:37:24.904Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Global Competition and Strategies in the Information and Communications Technology Industry: A Liberal-Strategic Approach

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Johan Lembke*
The Institute for European, Russian & Eurasian Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
The Institute for European, Russian & Eurasian Studies (IERES), the Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA), George Washington University, Stuart Hall, Suite 401, 2013 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052, USA. Email:


This article examines the roles of multinational corporations and the European Union (EU) in structuring global competition around wireless standardization. It analyzes the realities of global competition in information and communications technology (ICT) markets from a more liberal-strategic viewpoint than the subsidy-based industry support promulgated by strategic trade theorists in the 1980s and 1990s. According to a liberal-strategic trade perspective, public actors try to tweak the rules of the world economy to structure global competition in ways that enhance job creation, overall competitiveness in high-technology sectors, and domestic welfare, rather than being primarily concerned about import competition. The story of the European approach to global standardization and competition—and the strategic use of international standards bodies by multinational corporations—primarily represents an aggressive outward-oriented strategy. European actors pursued a globally oriented strategy in the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) with the objective of aligning Europe with market and policy developments in the rapidly growing markets of the Asia—Pacific region. By downplaying the importance of import competition, often stressed by strategic trade theorists a liberal-strategic approach to the ICT industry focuses on the prospect of cutting-edge innovations based on a coherent industry strategy that looks at the creation of internationally competitive technologies in the longer-term rather than at incremental change and current import competition pressure.

Research Article
Copyright © V.K. Aggarwal 2002 and published under exclusive license to Cambridge University Press 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Abbott, Kenneth W. and Snidal, Duncan. 2001. “International ‘Standards’ and International Governance.” European Journal of Public Policy 8 (1): 345–370.Google Scholar
Arthur, W. Brian. 1989. “Competing Technologies, Increasing Returns, and Lock-in by Historical Events.” The Economic Journal 99 (March): 116131.Google Scholar
Bangemann, Martin, Commissioner for Industrial Policy. 1999. Opening Address. Conference on Standardization for the Twenty-First Century, Berlin, 15–17 March.Google Scholar
Besen, Stanley M. and Johnson, Leland. 1986. Compatibility Standards, Competition, and Innovation in the Broadcasting Industry. Washington, DC: RAND Corporation.Google Scholar
Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). 2000. The Economic Impact of Third Generation Wireless Technology, October.Google Scholar
Commission of the European Communities (CEC). 1996. UMTS Task Force Report: The Road to UMTS—“In Contact Anytime, Anywhere, With Any One.” Brussels, 1 March.Google Scholar
CEC. 1997a. Further Development of Mobile and Wireless Communications: Challenges and Choices for the European Union. COM (97) 217. Brussels, 29 May.Google Scholar
CEC. 1997b. Strategy and Policy Orientations with Regard to the Further Development of Mobile and Wireless Communications (UMTS). COM (97) 513. Brussels, 15 October.Google Scholar
CEC. 1998. Draft Decision on the Coordinated Introduction of Mobile and Wireless Communications (UMTS) in the Community. COM (98) 58. Brussels, February.Google Scholar
Crawford, Beverly. 1995. “Hawks, Doves, But no Owls: International Economic Interdependence and Construction of a New Security Dilemma.” In On Security, edited by Lipschutz, R.D. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Dalum, Bent, et al. 1999. “Europe and the Information and Communication Technologies Revolution.” In The Economic Challenge for Europe, edited by Fagerberg, J., Guerrieri, P. and Verspagen, B. Cheltenham, UK; Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
David, Paul A. 1995. “Standardization Policies for Network Technologies: The Flux Between Freedom and Order Revisited.” In Standards, Innovation and Competitiveness: The Politics and Economics of Standards in Natural and Technical Environments, edited by Hawkins, R.W., Mansell, R. and Skea, J. Aldershot: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
DaSilva, Joao, et al., European Commission DG Information Society. 1997. “Evolution towards UMTS.” HF Electronics/Communications (1): 3754.Google Scholar
DaSilva, Joao, et al. 1998. “Towards the Wireless Information Society: A Contribution from the ACTS Programme.” ACTS Mobile Telecommunication Summit, 8–11 June.Google Scholar
Davies, Andrew. 1996. “Innovation in Large Technical Systems: The Case of Telecommunications.” Industrial and Corporate Change 5 (4): 11431180.Google Scholar
ECTEL. 1994. The Future of Standardization: Industry Perspective. ECTEL Task Force Group on Standardization, 10 October.Google Scholar
Ericsson, Nokia and (ENS), Siemens. 1996. Requirements for the UMTS Regulatory Process. Brussels, 3 December.Google Scholar
Etesse, Loic and Kearsey, Brian N. 1994. Standardization—The Uniting Factor. Electrical Communication (Fall).Google Scholar
ETSI. 1998. Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). Sophia Antipolis.Google Scholar
ETSI. 2000a. 3rd Generation Mobile: Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS). Sophia Antipolis.Google Scholar
ETSI. 2000b. Transposition of 3GPP Deliverables into ETSI Deliverables. Mobile News. ETSI. Special Edition. 2000 GSM World Congress (Spring).Google Scholar
ETSI. 2000c. GSM Evolution now Part of 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). News Release, 25 July.Google Scholar
European Council of Ministers. 1999. Council Decision on the Coordinated Introduction of Third Generation Mobile and Wireless Communications System (UMTS) in the Community. 128/1999/EEC. Brussels, January.Google Scholar
Flamm, Kenneth. 1988. Targeting the Computer: Government Support and International Competition. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
Flamm, Kenneth. 1996. Mismanaged Trade? Strategic Policy and the Semiconductor Industry. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
Funk, Jeffrey. 1998. “Competition Between Regional Standards and the Success and Failure of Firms in the World-wide Mobile Communication Market.” Telecommunications Policy 22 (4/5): 419441.Google Scholar
Gilpin, Robert. 2001. Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Gourevitch, Peter A. 1986. Politics in Hard Times. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Guerrieri, Paolo and Milana, Carlo. 1998. “High-technology Industries and International Competition.” In Trade, Growth and Technical Change, edited by Archibugi, in D. and Michie, J. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Hart, Jeffrey. 1992. Rival Capitalists: International Competitiveness in the United States, Japan and Western Europe. Ithaca, NJ: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Hart, Jeffrey A. and Thomas, John C. 1995. “European Policies toward HDTV.” Communications & Strategy 20: 2355.Google Scholar
Hart, Jeffrey A. and Prakash, Assem. 1999. “Globalization, Governance, and Strategic Trade and Investment Policies.” In Globalization and Governance, edited by Prakash, in A. and Hart, J.A. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Hart, Michael. 2000. The American Internet Advantage: Global Themes and Implications of the Modern World. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.Google Scholar
Hawkins, Richard W. 1994. Regional Technical Infrastructures: The European Position in the Evolving Geo-politics of Telecommunication. Working Paper, European Network for Communication and Information Perspectives.Google Scholar
Hillebrand, Friedhelm. 2000. “Globalized GSM and UMTS Specification Work Makes Progress.” Mobile News. ETSI, Special Edition—2000 GSM World Congress (Spring).Google Scholar
ITU. 1999. World Telecommunication Development Report: Mobile Cellular. Geneva.Google Scholar
Kaitatzi-Whitlock, Sophia. 1998. “HDTV and Standardization Policymaking in Europe.” In High-definition Television: A Global Perspective, edited by Dupagne, M. and Seel, P. B. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.Google Scholar
Kearsey, Brian N. 1996. “Challenge for Europe: Managed Business-driven Standardization.” IEE Engineering Management Journal February.Google Scholar
Kozmetzky, George and Yue, Piyu. 1997. Global Economic Competition: Today's Warfare in Global Electronics Industries and Companies. Boston; Dordrecht; London: Kluwer.Google Scholar
Lawton, Thomas C. 1997. Technology and the New Diplomacy: The Creation and Control of EC Industrial Policy for Semiconductors. Aldershot, UK: Avebury.Google Scholar
Lembke, Johan. 2001a. “Harmonization and Globalization: UMTS and the Single Market.” INFO: The Journal of Policy, Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunications, Information and Media 3(1) (February): 1526.Google Scholar
Lembke, Johan. 2001b. Politics of Galileo. European Policy Paper No. 7 (April). European Union Center/Center for West European Studies/University Center for International Studies. University of Pittsburgh.Google Scholar
Lembke, Johan. Forthcoming. (June 2002). Competition for Technological Leadership: EU Policy for High Technology. Cheltenham, UK; Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
Lundvall, Bengt-Åke. 1995. “Standards in an Innovative World.” In Standards, Innovation and Competitiveness: The Politics and Economics of Standards in Natural and Technical Environments, edited by Hawkins, R.W., Mansell, R. and Skea, J. Aldershot: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
Mansell, Robin. 1995. “Standards, Industrial Policy and Innovation.” In Standards, Innovation and Competitiveness: The Politics and Economics of Standards in Natural and Technical Environments, edited by Hawkins, R.W. et al. Aldershot, UK: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
Marcus, Alfred A. 1991. “Airline Deregulation, Business Strategy and Regulatory Theory.” In Public Policy and Economic Institutions, edited by Dubnick, M. J. and Gitelson, A. R. Greenwich, CT; London: JAI Press.Google Scholar
Milner, Helen. 1988. Resisting Protectionism: Global Industries and the Politics of International Trade. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Milner, Helen V. and Yoffie, David B. 1989. “Between Free Trade and Protectionism: Strategic Trade Policy and a Theory of Corporate Trade Demands.” In Issues and Agents in International Political Economy, edited by Cohen, B.J. and Lipson, C. Cambridge, MA; London: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
Murtha, Thomas P., Spencer, Jennifer W. and Lenway, Stefanie A. 1996. “Moving Targets: National Industrial Strategies and Embedded Innovation in the Global Flat Panel Industry.” Advances in Strategic Management 13: 247281.Google Scholar
Niepold, Ruprecht. European Commission DG Information Society. 1999. The European Vision for UMTS. UMTS ‘99 Conference. Brussels, 28 May.Google Scholar
Noll, Roger G. and Owen, Bruce M. 1983. The Political Economy of Deregulation: Interest Groups in the Regulatory Process. Washington and London: American Enterprise for Public Policy Research.Google Scholar
OHG, Operators’ Harmonization Group. 1999a. Open Letter to the ITU on Third Generation Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) on IMT-2000 Radio Transmission Technologies. Beijing, 15 January.Google Scholar
OHG, Operators’ Harmonization Group. 1999b. Open Letter to the ITU and Standards Development Organizations. Tokyo, 29 April.Google Scholar
Paetsch, Michael. 1993. The Evolution of Mobile Communications in the U.S. and Europe: Regulation, Technology, and Markets. London: Artech House.Google Scholar
Pauly, Louis W. and Reich, Simon. 1997. “National Structures and Multinational Corporate Behavior: Enduring Differences in the Age of Globalization.” In Issues and Agents in International Political Economy, edited Cohen, B. J. and Lipson, C. Cambridge, MA; London: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
Peterson, John. 1993. High Technology and the Competition State. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Potters, Jan and Sloof, Randolph. 1996. “Interest Groups: A Survey of Empirical Models that Try to Assess Their Influence.” European Journal of Political Economy 12: 403422.Google Scholar
Sally, Razeen. 1997. “Public Policy and the Janus Face of the Multinational Enterprise: National Embeddedness and International Production.” In Globalization and Public Policy, edited by Cerny, Philip G. et al. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
Samuels, Richard. 1994. Rich Nation, Strong Army: National Security and the Technological Transformations of Japan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Spencer, B. J. and Brander, J. A. 1983. “International R&D Rivalry and Industrial Strategy.” The Review of Economic Studies 50: 707722.Google Scholar
Sung, Liching. 1997. “Standards Competition in Wireless: Regionalism vs. Globalism.” In Globalism and Localism in Telecommunications, edited by Noam, E. M. and Wolfson, A. J. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
Thornton, David W. 1995. Airbus Industrie: The Politics of an International Industrial Collaboration. New York: St Martin's Press.Google Scholar
Thurow, Lester C. 1996. The Future of Capitalism: How Today's Economic Forces Shape Tomorrow's World. New York: W. Morrow & Co.Google Scholar
Tyson, Laura D. 1992. Who's Bashing Whom? Trade Conflict in High-technology Industries. Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics.Google Scholar
Weber, Steve and Zysman, John. 1992. “The Risk that Mercantilism Will Define the Next Security System.” In The Highest Stakes, edited by Sandholtz, W. et al. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Werle, Raymund. 1998. “Institutional Aspects of Standardization: Jurisdictional Conflicts and the Choice of Standardization Organizations.” European Journal of Public Policy 8 (1): 392410.Google Scholar
Wireless Strategy Analytics. 2001. 2.5G and 3G Wireless Applications. Presentation material. Boston.Google Scholar
Yoffie, David B. 1993. “Introduction: From Comparative Advantage to Regulated Competition.” In Beyond Free Trade: Firms, Governments, and Global Competition, edited by Yoffie, D. B. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar