The decision and process of standard-setting in a catch up strategy for latecomer countries: the cases of China and Korea


This paper examines standard-setting process in China in relation with standard-setting processes in Korea to illustrate the key factors and mechanisms affecting catch up in latecomer economies, particularly from the perspective of government decision and support. It has three contributions to the existing literature. First, it offers a new perspective in understanding standard-setting in the context of latecomer economies. Most of the existing research focus on either the Chinese standard or pay attention to the Korean standards. Only a few studies have compared the standard-setting process from the two countries. Although there are a number of studies on Chinese innovation and catch up, discussions and analyses from standard-setting perspectives are still rare. Until now, within latecomer economies, the only successful standard-settings come from Korea and China (ITU, 2007) and lessons drawn from the two countries will be significant. This research fills gap and explores catch up strategy from the view of standard-setting based on the successes in two countries. Second, this paper further articulates the key factors and mechanisms affecting catching up through technology standard development, particularly from a government decision perspective. How a technology standard is set in a latecomer economy and how the Chinese government has dealt with the diverse interests of various market actors while pursuing its own policy agenda are being explored. It is of particular interest to investigate to what extent government intervention can modify the outcome of a path-dependent process of standard competition. Third, the findings have important practical implications. This paper aims to bridge catch up theory and standardisation theory to understand how the method of standard-setting can serve national goals in a latecomer economy. It also examines neo-classical and path dependence theories in the context of latecomers.

Working Paper