Patterns of Catch-up in Technologies and Markets

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사회과학대학 경제학부
Issue Date
서울대학교 대학원
학위논문 (박사)-- 서울대학교 대학원 : 경제학부(경제학전공), 2014. 2. 이근.

This study focuses on two questions: how are latecomer firms in developing countries with low quality products and no brand recognition able to catch up with industry forerunners in developed countries with advantages in every aspect and do those firms follow any particular pattern achieving their success?
Several previous studies have explored the process by which particular companies were able to catch up with industry forerunners, but thus far have provided only fragmentary explanations. As such we have divided our primary research question of what process latecomers follow in catching up with industry forerunners into the following four research questions.
1) Are latecomers able to catch up with forerunners in the market without technological capabilities?
2) Do latecomers utilize technologies that are similar to or distinct from those employed by forerunners?
3) Is it necessary for latecomers to invest in cutting-edge or more recent technologies in order to catch-up?
4) Do science-based technologies increase over time during the catch-up process?
In seeking answers to the aforementioned research questions, we conducted an in-depth analysis of the catch-up phenomenon from the technological perspective primarily by using patent data, which has become more widely available in recent times, and reviewing existing catch-up theories.
We reviewed several cases, in which latecomers in developing countries did catch-up with the leaders in developed countries in different sectors, in order to examine whether a set of patterns exits that are generally followed by latecomers in the catch-up process. In particular, we selected the case of Huawei and Ericsson in the telecommunications equipment sector, Samsung Electronics and Sony in the electronics sector, Hyundai Motors and Mitsubishi Motors in the automobile manufacturing sector, and POSCO and Nippon Steel Corporation in the steel production sector. Huawei, Samsung, Hyundai Motors and POSCO are all large companies from developing countries that successfully caught up with forerunners in their respective sectors. An in-depth analysis of each pair of companies was conducted using patent data and other technological indices to find the similarities and differences in the technological catch-up process followed by each latecomer. A review of the existing literature and examination of outcomes revealed possible common patterns in the technological catch-up processes followed in the different sectors studied.
First, latecomers technological catch-up tends to precede a catch-up in the market. This reflects the fact that accumulated technological capabilities are the foundation of the catch-up process and a necessary condition for sustainable
rather than temporary
dominance over a longer period of time.
Second, latecomers tend to catch-up by using technologies that differ from those employed by incumbents. This was determined, considering the level of technological dependence between two firms, self-citation ratio and the number of received citations of patents.
Third, whether a latecomer can succeed in catching up with the forerunner by relying on more recent technologies depends on the technological nature of the sector, especially the typical length of the sectors technology cycle. This reflects the fact that during the catching-up process, latecomers depend on more recent technologies in the sector with short technological cycle and frequent generation change, while latecomers in the sector with less frequent technological generation change gradually tend to improve the existing technologies in a different way from forerunners rather than investing in up-to-date technologies, which can be verified by the measure of backward citation lag.
Fourth, whether a latecomers patent has a higher proportion of science-based citations tends to depend on the nature of the sectors knowledge base. Whereas the knowledge base of the IT sector depends on radical innovation and explicit knowledge, the knowledge base of the automobile manufacturing sector depends on gradual innovation based on experience and experimentation as well as tacit knowledge.
This study conducted an in-depth analysis and examination of the aforementioned specific research questions through patent data analysis and drew the following conclusions with regard to the catch-up process: A accumulated technological capacity is the base for the catch-up of latecomer firms with the forerunners, the latecomer catch-up with incumbents based on different technologies from the incumbents, latecomers in sectors with a short technological cycle try to catch up with the leaders by depending up-to-date technologies, and the share of basic science in their patents of latecomers tends to gradually increase in sectors with little tacit knowledge.
Lastly, this paper can provide directions for firms as to what conditions are needed for to be able to catch up with forerunners by making explicit the existence of several possible patterns of catch-up within the sector from the technological perspective through the patent analysis data. In addition, this study provides practical and useful implications for both incumbents and latecomers in establishing their technological strategies in general and their patent strategies in particular.

Key words: Patterns of catch-up, Technological catch-up, Catch-up in the market, Patents, Level of technological dependence, Self-citation ratio, The number of received citations, Backward citation lag, Science-base, Knowledge base, Sector
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College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학)Dept. of Economics (경제학부)Theses (Ph.D. / Sc.D._경제학부)
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