CPII project director is William Lazonick, professor of economics and director of the University of Massachusetts Center for Industrial Competitiveness as well as co-founder and president of The Academic-Industry Research Network (www.theAIRnet.org). Since the 1970s he has been worked on theories of innovative enterprise and economic development, drawing on comparative-historical research on the United States and a number of European and Asian nations, especially Britain and Japan. More recently, in addition to this comparative work, he has written on the financialization of the US corporation, the increase in US income inequality and the disappearance of the American middle class. His book, Sustainable Prosperity in the New Economy? Business Organization and High-Tech Employment in the United States (Upjohn Institute for Employment Research 2009), was awarded the 2010 International Schumpeter Prize.
CPII Research Fellow:
Yin Li is a PhD student of science, technology and innovation policy at Georgia Institute of Technology, where he works with Professor Dan Breznitz on a NSF grant “Innovation under Structured Uncertainty in China”. Yin Li is also the country correspondent for China at the European Commission’s ERAWATCH project that monitors innovation policies of the world’s major economies. His research interests include the financing of innovation, semiconductor, and the solar power industry.
CPII Research Assistants
Dingxu (Tina) Li, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Qiaoling Ma, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Xiahui (Helen) Xia, University of Massachusetts Lowell
A note on the origins of “China’s Path to Indigenous Innovation”:
From the early 1990s, Bill Lazonick led a research project, funded by the Social Science Research Council, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and the National Science Foundation on “indigenous innovation and industrial development.” The main focus was on the history of Japan’s rise to positions of industrial leadership in industries such as automobiles, consumer electronics, and machine tools. In collaboration with Kazuo Wada of the University of Tokyo, one of the case studies on which we focused was the indigenous-innovation transition from textile machinery to automobiles that culminated in the Toyota Motor Corporation.
One of the people working with Lazonick from the early 1990s was Qiwen Lu, a PhD student in sociology at Harvard University who was interested in exploring the potential for indigenous innovation in China. With financial support through the UMass Lowell Center for Industrial Competitiveness, Lu did the fieldwork for his Harvard dissertation on the emergence of innovative computer companies in China, focusing on the cases of Stone, Legend (now Lenovo), and Founder. Subsequently in the late 1990s, Lu also worked with Lazonick at INSEAD, the business school in France, and added Great Wall Computer to his case studies. The result was a pioneering book, China’s Leap into the Information Age: Innovation and Organization in the Computer Industry (Oxford University Press 2000).
Just after the book manuscript was completed in June 1999, unexpectedly and tragically, Qiwen Lu died of liver cancer. Lazonick’s preface to the published volume became an obituary to this impressive scholar. Subsequently Lazonick wrote a paper, “Indigenous Innovation and Economic Development”, published in Industry & Innovation on 2004, in which he summarized Lu’s work and its implications for understanding the development process.
By the early 2000s, Professor Feng Lu, now at Peking University but then at Tsinghua, had become the most important scholar in China doing research on the indigenous-innovation process. Around 1998, when Feng Lu was at Columbia University completing his PhD dissertation on state-owned enterprises in China, he had come to know Qiwen Lu, and indeed Lazonick discussed with the two of them the possibility of mounting a project to research and monitor China’s path to indigenous innovation. One of Professor Lu’s undergraduate students at Tsinghua was Kaidong Feng, with whom in the mid-2000s he wrote highly influential articles on the emergence of indigenous innovation in China. Kaidong Feng subsequently did his PhD at the University of Sussex, under the direction of Nick von Tunzelmann, producing outstanding research on the transition from the policy of “trading markets for technology” to “indigenous innovation” in the automobile and communications equipment industries. He is now a faculty member at Peking University.
In the United States, Bill Lazonick and Yin Li have become involved in a China Innovation Network led by Yifei Sun and Yu Zhou, who organized a conference on “Chinese Ways of Innovation”, sponsored by California State University Northridge , in Woodland Hills CA on October 6-7, 2011, at which the framework for the CPII project was presented. Lazonick, Sun, and Zhou are currently editing a volume on innovation in China.
Lazonick and Li have also been working with Hao Xie, a former Master’s student at UMass Lowell, on a website, ChinaAnalysis.com, that aims to disseminate news and publish opinion pieces related to China’s economic development.
The CPII project has benefited from funding provided to William Lazonick by the Ford Foundation, Institute for New Economic Thinking, and Svenska Handelsbanken Foundation.