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The Needham Puzzle Reconsidered: Organizations, Organizing, and Innovation in China

  • Mie Augier (a1), Jerry Guo (a2) and Harry Rowen (a3)
Abstract

This paper discusses some aspects of innovation in China. As China seeks to transition to a knowledge-based economy, it may become more important for China to develop innovative technologies to sustain economic growth. How do China's history, culture, institutions, and organizations aid or hinder innovation? How does China's national innovation system compare to the innovation culture in the US, as well as other developed and emerging economies? What are the prospects for the future of the Chinese national innovation system?

Our starting point is the Needham Puzzle – the paradox that while China was once a world leader in technological development, it fell behind; the Industrial Revolution happened in Europe rather than in China. Potential explanations for the Needham Puzzle may shed light on the challenges facing innovation in modern China. We identify three factors that might help explain the Needham Puzzle; assess how the Needham Puzzle and Chinese culture and history have affected the modern innovation system; discuss comparative aspects of innovation ecosystems in the United States and elsewhere; and suggest that Chinese innovation emphasizes exploitation and refinement of existing knowledge to the exploration and development of new knowledge. We also discuss implications for the future of innovation in China.

摘要:

这篇论文讨论了中国创新的某些方面。随着中国力图向知识经济过渡, 发展创新技术以维持经济增长对中国来说可能变得更加重要。中国的历史、文化、制度和组织如何帮助或阻碍创新༟中国的国家创新系统如何与美国的创新文化、以及其他发达和新兴经济体比较༟中国国家创新系统的未来前景是什么༟我们的出发点是李约瑟难题——虽然中国曾经是技术发展的世界领导者, 然而它落后了的悖论༛工业革命发生在欧洲而不是中国。对李约瑟难题的潜在解释可能揭示当代中国创新面临的挑战。我们找出了可能帮助解释李约瑟难题的三个因素༛评价了李约瑟难题与中国文化和历史如何影响当代创新系统༛讨论了美国和其它地方创新生态系统可比较的方面༛提出中国创新强调的是利用和提炼现有知识, 而不是探索和开发新知识。我们还讨论了对中国未来创新的启示。

वर्तमान शोध पत्र में चीन में नवोन्मेष के कुछ आयामों पर चर्चा है. यथा चीन ज्ञानपरक अर्थव्यवस्था की ओर उन्मुख होता है, तथा निरंतर आर्थिक विकास के लिए नवप्रवर्तनशील तकनीक का विकास आवश्यक है. इस संदर्भ में चीन का इतिहास, संस्कृति, संस्थान और संगठन किस प्रकार नवोन्मेष को पोषित अथवा बाधित करते हैं? राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर चीन का नवोन्मेष तंत्र अमरीका व अन्य विकसित और उदीयमान अर्थव्यवस्थाओं की नवोन्मेष परम्पराओं की तुलना में कैसा है? चीन के इस राष्ट्रीय नवोन्मेष तंत्र के भविष्य में क्या संभावनाएं हैं? उपरोक्त सन्दर्भ में हमारे शोध का प्रारम्भिक आधार नीडहैम पहेलिका है जो ऐतिहासिक परिप्रेक्ष्य में इस विडम्बना की द्योतक है की चीन, जो कभी विश्व में तकनीकी विकास में अग्रगण्य था, बाद में पिछड़ गया; औद्योगिक क्रान्ति चीन में न हो कर यूरोप में हुई. नीडहैम पहेलिका के संभावित कारण कदाचित चीन की वर्तमान नवोन्मेष सम्बन्धी चुनौतियों पर भी प्रकाश डाल सकते हैं. हमने ऐसे तीन कारक खोजे हैं जिन से नीडहैम पहेलिका समझी जा सकती है; हम ने आकलन किया है की किस हद तक नीडहैम पहेलिका और चीन की संस्कृति और इतिहास ने समकालीन नवोन्मेष तंत्र पर प्रभाव डाला है; हम ने तुलनात्मक आधार पर अमरीका तथा अन्य देशों के नवोन्मेष के परिवेश को देखा है, और हमारा मत है की चीनी नवोन्मेष में नव ज्ञान सर्जन की तुलना में उपलब्ध ज्ञान की गवेषणा और परिमार्जन पर अधिक महत्व दिया जाता है. हम ने चीन में नवोन्मेष की भावी संभावनाओं पर भी चर्चा की है.

Sumário:

Este artigo discute alguns aspectos da inovação na China. Como a China procura fazer a transição para uma economia baseada no conhecimento, pode se tornar mais importante para a China desenvolver tecnologias inovadoras para sustentar o crescimento econômico. Como a história, cultura, instituições e organizações da China auxiliam ou dificultam a inovação? Como o sistema nacional de inovação da China se compara com a cultura de inovação nos EUA, bem como em outras economias desenvolvidas e emergentes? Quais são as perspectivas futuras do sistema de inovação nacional chinês? Nosso ponto de partida é o enigma de Needham - o paradoxo de que apesar da China uma vez ter sido um líder mundial no desenvolvimento tecnológico, ela ficou para trás; a Revolução Industrial aconteceu na Europa, e não na China. Explicações potenciais para o enigma Needham podem esclarecer os desafios da inovação na China moderna. Nós identificamos três fatores que podem ajudar a explicar o enigma Needham; avaliar como o enigma Needham e a cultura chinesa e a história afetaram o moderno sistema de inovação; discutir aspectos comparativos dos ecossistemas de inovação nos Estados Unidos e em outros lugares; e sugerir que a inovação chinesa enfatiza a exploração e refinamento do conhecimento existente para a exploração e desenvolvimento de conhecimento novo. Nós também discutimos implicações para o futuro da inovação na China.

АННОТАЦИЯ:

Статья исследует некоторые аспекты инноваций в Китае. Поскольку Китай стремится перейти к наукоемкой экономике, развитие новейших технологий становится все более важным для поддержания устойчивого экономического роста в Китае. Каким образом история и культура Китая, его институты и организации способствуют или препятствуют инновациям? Чем отличается национальная система инноваций в Китае от культуры инноваций в США, а также в других развитых и развивающихся странах? Каковы перспективы национальной системы инноваций в Китае?

Нашей отправной точкой будет «загадка Нидхэма» – парадокс, почему Китай, будучи некогда мировым лидером, отстал в технологическом развитии; почему индустриальная революция произошла в Европе, а не в Китае. Решение «загадки Нидхэма» может выявить препятствия для развития инноваций в современном Китае. Мы определяем три фактора, которые возможно приведут к решению «загадки Нидхэма»: мы исследуем, как «загадка Нидхэма», китайская культура и история, повлияли на современную систему инноваций; проводим сравнительный анализ с инновационными экосистемами в США и других странах; и предполагаем, что китайские инновации основываются на использовании и преобразовании существующих знаний, а не на приобретении и развитии новых знаний. Мы также рассматриваем перспективы для будущего инноваций в Китае.

RESUMEN:

Este artículo discute algunos aspectos sobre la innovación en China. A medida China busca hacer la transición hacia una economía basada en el conocimiento, puede llegar a ser más importante para China el desarrollar tecnologías innovadoras para sostener el crecimiento económico. ¿Cómo la historia, cultura, instituciones y organizaciones de China ayudan u obstaculizan la innovación?, ¿Cómo funciona el sistema de innovación de China en comparación con la cultura innovadora en los Estados Unidos, así como en otras economías desarrolladas y emergentes?, ¿Cuáles son las perspectivas para el futuro del sistema de innovación chino?. Nuestro punto de partida es el Rompecabezas de Needham –la paradoja de que mientras China fue una vez un líder mundial en desarrollo tecnológico, se quedó atrás; la revolución industrial tuvó lugar en Europa y no en China. Las posibles explicaciones para el rompecabezas de Needham puede dar luces sobre los desafíos que enfrenta la innovación en la China moderna. Identificamos tres factores que pueden ayudar a explicar el rompecabezas de Needham: evaluar como el rompecabezas de Needham y la cultura e historia china han afectado el sistema de innovación moderno; discutir aspectos comparativos de los ecosistemas de innovación en los Estados Unidos, y en otros lugares; y sugerir que la innovación china enfatiza la explotación y el perfeccionamiento del conocimiento existente para la explotación y el desarrollo de nuevo conocimiento. También se discuten las implicaciones para el futuro de la innovación en China.

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