Differential Forms of Technological Evolution and Catch-Up: Evidence from China (Fangrui Wang, Xiaolan Fu and Jin Chen)


Based on a categorization of technological change, this paper proposes three patterns of catch-up: incremental, disruptive, and revolutionary. Variations in innovation forms within the three patterns of catch-up are analyzed using Chinese firm-level survey data. The evolution of innovation follows an inverted U-shape in the case of the incremental pattern of catch-up. The disruptive form of catch-up follows a linear curve rather than the N-shape proposed by theory. In the case of the revolutionary pattern of catch-up, the evolution of innovation also follows an inverted U-shape but one which is less flat than that involved in the incremental pattern.

Working Paper