Alliance-based Network View on Chinese Firms’ Catching-up: Case Study of Huawei Technologies Co.Ltd

Ying Zhang


With China’s rapid economic growth in recent years, many Chinese firms especially in high-tech industries have started to technically lead in the international market. In this study, we aim to uncover the root causes that lead to Chinese firms’ catching up from network perspective. By taking Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. as a case, we integrate absorptive capacity development and firm-level catching up into an alliances-based network framework. We found that network alliances with firms and universities complement each other at different catching up stages; and alliances-based network provides a springboard for Chinese firms to shorten catching up path. We argue that in Chinese context, impact of FDI on firms’ performance comes into effect only if partnership is carried out; alliances with universities facilitate development of absorptive capacity at an early stage; Partnering with leading players stimulate R&D investment at a late stage and simultaneously enhance firm’s innovation performance as well.

Key words: Strategic alliances, Network, Chinese firms, absorptive capacity, catching up

JEL Code: M13, O32, O19, L24

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872