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Internationalization of technology development in China: an evaluation using patent data

Alok K. Chakrabarti (L.M. Thapar School of Management, Thapar University, Patiala, India)
Pradip K. Bhaumik (International Management Institute, New Delhi, India)

Journal of Technology Management in China

ISSN: 1746-8779

Article publication date: 1 June 2010



Increased globalization of the world's economies, along with accelerated technological changes are transforming research and development (R&D) activities around the world. The purpose of this paper is to study the technology development in China, particularly in the light of the globalization of R&D activities.


The study is based on a detailed analysis of all US patents granted between 1979 and 2007 in which at least one inventor was a resident of China. US patents have been used as a surrogate measure of technology development and a patent developed with a resident Chinese inventor has been assumed to have been developed in China.


The paper identifies four phases of technical development in China: growth rate of patenting, extent of inventor collaboration, ownership pattern, concentration on technology trajectory and changing role of MNCs characterize each phase. While along the relatively new electrical and ICT technology trajectories, Chinese entities have benefited from the pioneering lead of foreign entities, along the traditional mechanical and chemical trajectories, foreign entities have followed the early work of Chinese entities.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations of the study include the validity of using US patents as the sole measure of technology development. Other measures of technology development may be necessary to validate the findings reported here.

Practical implications

The study provides a rich source of information about different aspects of technology development in China and the challenges it faces in its internationalization.


The identification of four distinct phases have highlighted the pioneering role of foreign entities in opening up some technology trajectories as well as the increasing maturity and competence of all‐Chinese researcher teams.



Chakrabarti, A.K. and Bhaumik, P.K. (2010), "Internationalization of technology development in China: an evaluation using patent data", Journal of Technology Management in China, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 122-140.



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