Reinventing Mass Production: China's Specialization in Innovative Manufacturing

41 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2012 Last revised: 2 Nov 2013

See all articles by Jonas Nahm

Jonas Nahm

Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Edward Steinfeld

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: October 9, 2012

Abstract

Based on more than one hundred firm-level interviews conducted between 2010 and 2012, this paper examines the political economy of China’s emergence as a global manufacturing powerhouse. Our argument is that China’s industrial growth trajectory cannot be fully explained by either factor the cost advantages associated with markets or the policy interventions associated with the developmental state. Instead, we argue that China’s rise stems from the development of unique capabilities in innovative manufacturing. We provide a typology for understanding the phenomenon of innovative manufacturing, and show how it has led to a complex distribution of risks and rewards, as well as multidirectional learning, across a variety of national contexts. Thus, through our analysis of Chinese industrial upgrading, we generate new frameworks for understanding national competitiveness and industrial catch-up in the contemporary global economy.

Suggested Citation

Nahm, Jonas and Steinfeld, Edward S., Reinventing Mass Production: China's Specialization in Innovative Manufacturing (October 9, 2012). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper Working Paper 2012-25, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2159429 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2159429

Jonas Nahm

Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies ( email )

1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1984
United States

Edward S. Steinfeld (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

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