Catching-up of technological innovation capabilities

the solar photovoltaic industries in Taiwan, China, and Korea

Ching-Yan Wu, John A. Mathews

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


In this paper we investigate the technological innovation capabilities of the three Asian latecomer- namely Taiwan, China, and Korea- in the emergent solar photovoltaic industry. The solar photo voltaic industry is of particular interest in that it is poised between exploitation of first generation (crystalline silicon technologies) and new thin film and organic compound technologies, thus providing distinct sources of technological innovation capability as measured by technology portfolios. For this study, we deploy a new dataset of 75,540 solar photovoltaic patents taken out by Taiwan, Korea and China over the period of 31 years (1978 - 2008) and analyse the technological innovation capabilities revealed in these patents using a set of four technology platforms that we constructed. We demonstrate the patent portfolios of the three latecomer and explore what extent have the Chinese, Korean and Taiwanese followers developed their technological innovation capabilities so as to surpass the US, German, and Japan and acquire leading production positions since 2008; and how the variations of technological innovation capabilities among the major producers influence their business activities in the global solar PV industry. Our results show the various strategies adopted by Taiwan, China, and Korea to develop their solar PV industries, reflect their different national innovation systems involved, and response to the current trends of technology development in the global solar PV industry.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventInternational Conference on Management of Technology (21st : 2012) - Hsinchu, Taiwan
Duration: 18 Mar 201222 Mar 2012


ConferenceInternational Conference on Management of Technology (21st : 2012)
CityHsinchu, Taiwan


  • patent
  • solar photovoltaic (PV)
  • innovation capability
  • technology platform
  • catch-up
  • East Asia

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