Planning for high-tech industrial development in transitional China : the case of Shanghai
Abstract of thesis entitled
Planning for High-Tech Industrial Development in Transitional China: The Case of Shanghai
for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
at the University of Hong Kong
In August 2003
As a city's technology and knowledge level has become the vital element determining its competitive advantage and subsequently its position in the new international division of labor, many cities are making high-tech industrial development a significant component of their economic development strategies, and are constructing their own versions of Silicon Valley. Shanghai, the 'dragon head', has also proposed that its future role should be as the "high-tech hub and business center" of China and the Far East.
A wide variety of initiatives are being undertaken in Shanghai in an attempt to realize this high-tech-hub proposal, including the transformation of pillar industries, the provision of preferential policies and huge investments, and the establishment of venture capital and incubation facilities. These initiatives raise a number of important questions. How valid are they? What has Shanghai achieved and failed to achieve? What role should the government play in promoting high-tech industrial development in Shanghai?
This study seeks to address these questions. It applies a perspective of "spatial embeddedness of high-tech industrial development". On the one hand, cities and regions as spaces are deeply modified by technological advance. On the other hand, technological advance is not just a
narrowly technical issue, but is spatially embedded. Mediated by an extraordinarily broad range of social, economic and institutional elements, high-tech industrial development is profoundly shaped by space.
The aggregation of the elements mediating the space-technology interaction is referred to as 'business environment for high-tech industrial development' in this research, which comprises two parts: the innovation-relevant environment and the institutional environment. An assessment of the innovation-relevant environment in Shanghai discloses that, in boosting high-tech development, Shanghai achieves tangible objectives and improves the physical environment efficiently. Nevertheless, it is still quite weak in some soft dimensions, such as dynamic entrepreneurial culture, adequate business support services, sophisticated educational and professional system, comprehensive legal framework, etc.
In terms of the institutional environment, a survey in Shanghai reveals that China is halfway in its transition from a centrally planned economy to a market-oriented one. While old rules have broken down, new rules are established only partially; while market mechanisms have been gradually replacing bureaucratic command in ruling economic actives, institutional framework supportive of the market system is still underdeveloped; and while enterprises have been granted considerable autonomy in business operation, they are still halfway in their transformation from government-controlled instruments towards independent institutional actors which are in a parallel position of the government.
In fact, a business environment within which the political, social, economic, and institutional dimensions create the "synergy" that is catalytic to entrepreneurship and conducive to technological innovation is what Shanghai need to become a real powerhouse in the global high-tech arena. To establish such a business environment, China must change its previous partial understanding of "business environment" in physical terms, and both de-regulation and re-regulation processes are needed in transforming the urban governance system.
School:The University of Hong Kong
School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:high technology industries china shanghai institutional economics
Date of Publication:01/01/2004