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Innovation in virtual networks: evidence from the Chinese online game industry

Yimei Hu (Centre for International Business Economics, Department of Business and Management, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
Olav Jull Sørensen (Centre for International Business Economics, Department of Business and Management, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)

Journal of Knowledge-based Innovation in China

ISSN: 1756-1418

Article publication date: 27 September 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore and highlight the particular innovation characteristics and modes of the Chinese online game industry from a networking perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

This research is qualitative. Both primary and secondary data are used, which is collected through desk research on related documents and long‐term participative observation and personal experiences. This paper begins with an overview of the online game industry's innovation process and types; then constructs a framework that contains four innovation modes with different networks to guide the analysis and organization on the empirical findings; finally, the paper proposes some implications for companies and government.

Findings

This paper is an attempt to open the black box of the innovation of the Chinese online game industry. Born as an incomplete and virtual product, the innovation modes evolve from closed to a combination of open and networking ones. Producer‐driven Innovation Network Mode shows that game companies can get innovation resources through its focal network. Producer‐user Interaction Mode shows that players' have tremendous innovation potential. Open Collaborative Network Mode shows that power is distributed and the roles of actors are blurred.

Originality/value

This paper offers an analysis of the Chinese online game industry from the innovation side and partly fills the research gap. Also, this paper emphasized the users' innovation ability and a hybrid of different innovation modes, which can be seen as a successful theory test of user innovation, innovation networks, and open innovation theories in the Chinese context.

Keywords

Citation

Hu, Y. and Jull Sørensen, O. (2011), "Innovation in virtual networks: evidence from the Chinese online game industry", Journal of Knowledge-based Innovation in China, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 198-215. https://doi.org/10.1108/17561411111167863

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited