S-Space College of Business Administration/Business School (경영대학/대학원) Dept. of Business Administration (경영학과) Seoul Journal of Business Seoul Journal of Business Volume 15, Number 1/2 (2009)
Technological Catching-up and Latecomer Strategy: A Case Study of the Asian Shipbuilding Industry
- Sohn, Eunhee; Chang, Sung Yong; Song, Jeayong
- Issue Date
- Seoul Journal of Business, Vol.15 No.2, pp. 25-57
- Technological catching-up; latecomer strategy; imitation; learning myopia; technology regime; shipbuilding industry
- This paper investigates the role of imitation and innovation in technological catching-up. On the one hand, excessive innovation and no imitation can never provide latecomers with absorptive capacity to embark on catching-up along the existing technological trajectory. On the other hand, excessive imitation and no innovation can debilitate the ability of latecomer firms to leapfrog incumbents by creating a new trajectory and further reducing the technological gap. Thus, we argue that successful technological catching-up in the long term can hardly be achieved without a fine balance between imitation and innovation at the early stage of catching-up. We also propose that occurrence of technological uncertainty at the later stage of catching-up allows latecomers with such balance to realize radical technological leapfrogging. By conducting a case study on the shipbuilding industry in the 20th century, we find supporting evidence that validates our argument.