Upgrading of Symbolic and Synthetic Knowledge Bases: Analysis of the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industry and the Automotive Industry in China

Ca’ Foscari University of Venice Working Paper No. 25/100

37 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2012  

Jan van der Borg

Ca Foscari University of Venice

Erwin van Tuijl

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Date Written: December 1, 2011

Abstract

The degree and the way of upgrading differ widely per industry. This article tries to give some new insights in these differences by linking the concept of upgrading to that of the knowledge base. Moreover, we try to identify barriers to upgrading as well as the appropriate spatial scale on which upgrading takes place, again for different knowledge bases. We support our argument by analyzing the process of upgrading in two industries in China: the AEC industry (in Beijing and Shanghai) and the automotive industry (in Shanghai). Within these industries we focus on upgrading on two levels: within firms and within projects. Our findings for both industries suggest that the principal ways of upgrading of the symbolic knowledge base are joint brainstorming in internal and external project teams and labor mobility. Major factors that hinder the upgrading of symbolic knowledge include the development stage of China, the Chinese educational system and tensions about duplication of western designs. Upgrading of the synthetic knowledge base takes mainly place via inter-company training programmes of foreign firms, technology transfer and labour mobility on the long run. A possible barrier for upgrading of synthetic knowledge, especially in the automotive industry, is that foreign firms tend to keep certain engineering activities in their home base because of the risk of knowledge leakage. However, this is changing quickly as many foreign car makers and their suppliers invest in engineering centres in China due to an increasing demand for cars, to governmental regulations and to intensifying competition.

Keywords: urban development, upgrading, automotive industry, AEC industry, knowledge economy, China

JEL Classification: L2, R00, R3, O3

Suggested Citation

van der Borg, Jan and Tuijl, Erwin van, Upgrading of Symbolic and Synthetic Knowledge Bases: Analysis of the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industry and the Automotive Industry in China (December 1, 2011). Ca’ Foscari University of Venice Working Paper No. 25/100. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1983882 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1983882

Jan Van der Borg

Ca Foscari University of Venice ( email )

Dorsoduro 3246
Venice, Veneto 30123
Italy

Erwin Van Tuijl (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
Zuid-Holland
Netherlands

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