Title: A sustainable Chinese catch-up?: Product quality and interactive learning in the offshore wind industry
Author: Marius Korsnes
Address: Centre for Technology and Society, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Knowledge, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 7491 Trondheim, Norway
Abstract: This paper has two main contributions: first, it provides a first-time overview of actors in China's emerging offshore wind industry and details technology sourcing strategies and ownership status. Second, it points out the importance of supplier-manufacturer links for technological learning and product performance in China. The paper finds a lack of attention to product quality amongst offshore wind industry stakeholders, and, as anticipated, time pressure and cost savings were important reasons for this. More surprisingly, the paper finds that the prevailing feedback practices between suppliers and manufacturers were unhelpful in ensuring product quality. This was particularly the case in two instances: when ties between the supplier and purchaser were too close (as was true for companies in the same industry group) and when ties were too shallow (as when turbine manufacturers 'shopped' for components, or when suppliers did not care about feedback from manufacturers). Feedback practices in large state-owned enterprises were particularly unfortunate, leading to missed learning opportunities. Unless such relationships are changed and catered for, Chinese firms will likely continue to struggle to catch up with frontier firms.
Keywords: interactive learning; technological catch-up; China; offshore wind turbines; product quality; wind energy; wind power; technology sourcing strategies; ownership status; supplier-manufacturer links; technological learning; product performance; turbine manufacturing; state-owned enterprises; SOEs.
Int. J. of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development, 2016 Vol.8, No.2, pp.172 - 196
Submission date: 26 Jun 2015
Date of acceptance: 05 Jul 2015
Available online: 18 Jun 2016