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Drifting towards multidimensional collaborative innovation: the co-evolution of collaboration networks and policy in China’s nuclear power industry

Weiwei Liu (School of Economics and Management, Harbin Engineering University, Harbin, China)
Jingyi Yao (School of Economics and Management, Harbin Engineering University, Harbin, China)
Kexin Bi (School of Economics and Management, Harbin Engineering University, Harbin, China)

International Journal of Innovation Science

ISSN: 1757-2223

Article publication date: 9 May 2024

29

Abstract

Purpose

Nuclear power is a stable and reliable energy source that can improve energy structure while reducing carbon emissions, which is of great significance for environmental protection and combating climate change. As a unique industry, it is facing rare development opportunities in China and has broad market prospects. However, the characteristics of technical difficulty, loose organizational structure and uneven regional distribution limit the expansion of the nuclear power industry. This paper aims to a better understanding of the accumulation process for innovation capability from the perspective of network evolution and provides policy guidance for the market development of the nuclear power industry (NPI).

Design/methodology/approach

Methodologically, social network analysis is used to explore the co-evolution of multidimensional collaboration networks. First, the development and policy evolution of the NPI is introduced to divide the evolution periods. Then, the authors identify and analyze the core organizations, technologies and regions that promote nuclear power patent collaboration. Furthermore, three levels of collaboration networks based on organizations, technologies and regions are constructed to analyze the coevolution of patent networks in China’s NPI.

Findings

The results show that nuclear power enterprises always play the foremost role in the organizational collaboration network (OCN), and the dominance of foreign enterprises is replaced by Chinese state-owned enterprises in the third period. The technology hotspot has shifted from nuclear power plant construction to the control system. The regional collaboration network was initially formed in the coastal areas and gradually moved inland, with Guangdong and Beijing becoming the two cores of the network. The scale of three collaboration networks is still expanding but the speed has slowed down.

Originality/value

In response to the pain points of the NPI, this research focuses on multidimensional collaborative innovation, investigates the dynamic evolution process of collaborative innovation networks in China’s NPI and links policy evolution with network evolution creatively. The ultimate result not only helps nuclear power enterprises integrate innovative resources in complex environments but also promotes industrial upgrading and market development.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by [National Natural Science Foundation of China] grant number (72272042, 71872056), [Heilongjiang Province Philosophy and Social Science Planning Project] grant number (21GLB062), [Heilongjiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation Joint Guidance Project] grant number (LH2023G011).

Citation

Liu, W., Yao, J. and Bi, K. (2024), "Drifting towards multidimensional collaborative innovation: the co-evolution of collaboration networks and policy in China’s nuclear power industry", International Journal of Innovation Science, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJIS-04-2023-0099

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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