Title: Learning by decomposition and recombination in technological catching-up: a case study of a Chinese leading air separator system manufacturer, 1978-2008

Authors: Bin Guo; Xiaoling Chen

Addresses: School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China ' School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China

Abstract: By selecting a Chinese leading enterprise and world-class manufacturer in the air separator system industry, HASSMC, as the research subject of this case study, the present study investigates in depth its technological catching-up process during 1978-2008 to examine a proposed learning-based model for capability building in technological catching-up, in which the learning process is decoupled into two complementary processes as learning by decomposition and learning by recombination. The typical mechanisms in learning by decomposition and recombination have been investigated and summarised with empirical evidence. This study attempts to extend the absorptive capacity perspective for the context of technological catching-up in emerging economies, with an argument that latecomer firms can build up their absorptive capacity to effectively acquire and utilise external technology through externally accessible expertise other than internally possessed knowledge base, especially at the initial stage of technological catching-up.

Keywords: technological catching-up; capability building; technological learning; learning by decomposition; learning by recombination; China; air separator manufacturing; technological catch-up; emerging economies; latecomer firms.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPD.2013.055009

International Journal of Product Development, 2013 Vol.18 No.3/4, pp.344 - 375

Received: 07 Mar 2012
Accepted: 10 Sep 2012

Published online: 30 Sep 2014 *

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