Keywords: organisational learning, imitation, capabilities development paths, technological catch-up, Hong Kong, technology strategy, manufacturing strategy, innovation strategy, value chain, product life cycle, process capability, manufacturing industry, Asian newly industrialised economies, NIEs
Technological strategies and trajectories of Hong Kong's manufacturing firms
Hong Kong's post-war catching up with economically advanced nations is well documented. Starting as a piece of 'barren rock', the island economy has emerged as the 'Mart of East Asia'. While there are numerous explanations for the success from neoclassical development economists, few studies have focused on the technological strategies and paths of Hong Kong's manufacturing firms, the chief economic actors. This paper attempts to interpret Hong Kong's economic success by examining its national innovation systems. More specifically, this paper investigates the technological catch-up paths taken up by Hong Kong's manufacturing firms. It will argue that manufacturing firms in Hong Kong in general took on imitative strategies. Their capability development routes are attributed partly to organisational learning and partly to Hong Kong's unique physical, political and cultural environments. Relying on three major imitative strategies, namely 'reverse value chain' strategy, 'reverse product life cycle' strategy and 'process capability specialist' strategy, manufacturing firms in Hong Kong were able to compete and survive in the global markets. Furthermore, by extending their competence in managerial and consultancy services, firms in Hong Kong evolved into regional coordinators.