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Exploring the structure of international technology diffusion

Hung-Chun Huang (Department of International Business Studies, National Chi Nan University, Puli, Taiwan)
Hsin-Yu Shih (Department of International Business Studies, National Chi Nan University, Puli, Taiwan)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 3 June 2014




This paper aims to provide a macro perspective on diffusion structure research, and to investigate the deep structure of international technology diffusion and structural differences between technology diffusion networks. This work also provides an understanding of the nature of globalization. Globalization has highlighted changes in socioeconomics and is reshaping the world. However, when comparing endogenous factors, exogenous factors are complex and demonstrate themselves as network phenomena. These network phenomena compose themselves as neither sole nor independent units. Countries in the global network act interdependently, and heavily influence one another.


This study utilizes social network analysis to investigate the structural configuration of international technology diffusion. This investigation uses a sample of 42 countries over the period from 1997 to 2008. The data set contains two categories: bilateral trade flow and aggregate R&D expenditure. Meanwhile, this study uses block model analysis to reveal a network structure, which can precisely illustrate a global network configuration.


The findings not only illustrate the pattern change of diffusion from a cascade-like to radial-like structure, but also present the structural configuration of technologically advanced countries and their competitive positions.

Practical implications

In the shift to a diffusive structure, time and space are represented in new ways. Therefore, radial-like diffusion structure can provide some technological development approaches for countries interested in exogenous effects for technological growth and managing their international relation.


This study is the first to use a multilateral perspective and longitudinal data to examine a cross-country network structure, to provide an understanding of the nature of globalization, its conceptualization and how influence and effects are transmitted through the interconnectedness of international technology diffusion.



The authors thank Prof Daim and two anonymous referees for their insightful and valuable comments on the paper. Frederick Leslie Davy is thanked for his professional assistance. These supports are gratefully acknowledged.


Huang, H.-C. and Shih, H.-Y. (2014), "Exploring the structure of international technology diffusion", Foresight, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 210-228.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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