by Giovanni Balcet[1]


Globalization is at a turning point. The shift from a dominant optimistic free-trade approach to neo mercantilist policies opened the way to present times trade wars and (even more important) technology wars. They involve mainly the US and China, but also the EU and other global and regional actors, reducing cooperation areas and expanding areas of new conflicts.

This panel proposed a comparative overview of three key industries, in order to shed light on the radical changes taking place in the innovation and internationalization processes in Chinese industry in the new global scenarios, with special attention to the disruption of global supply chains.

Ignazio Musu focused on industrial dynamics and technological innovations in China's fast energy transition.

Francesca Spigarelli and Gianluca Sampaolo deeply discussed the evolving geopolitics and technology rivalry in the Semiconductors industry.

William Hua Wang analyzed technological trajectories and strategies in the Chinese automotive industry, focusing on new energy vehicles.

Together, these synergic case studies provided relevant empirical insights and an improved conceptual network on the evolving landscape of Chinese industrial innovation.

Network analysis and in-depth comparative company case studies proved to be crucial instruments in empirical research and a way to future research achievements.

A growing divergence appeared between States policies and the strategies developed by Transnational Corporations (TNCs). A good example is provided by the interdependence between CATL and Tesla in the field of advanced components and batteries for electric vehicles, produced for the Chinese and for the global market. The US-China rivalry for technology leadership in the Semiconductor industry and related policies has deeply impacting company strategies as well as global and regional supply chains.   

Reshoring, nearshoring or friendshoring were different answers by TNCs to evolving scenarios and to the pressure of the States neo mercantilist policies, after decades of cost-saving offshoring strategies. De-coupling, in the worst case, or de-risking moves may result from those processes. In any case, a major shift in the difficult balance between competition and cooperation is under way, in the “great game between great powers” for global technology leadership.

Beside tariffs, export or import limitations, R&D incentives and other subsidies, attractiveness policies have been a growing component of industrial policies implemented by States and by local administrations (such as provinces and municipalities) worldwide. These policies are consistent with the new (but old fashioned) economic nationalism, affecting not only trade but increasingly international production, global technology and FDIs.

Other implications of the industry case studies concern theory as well. As Peter Buckley pointed out in the panel during the discussion, the choice between internalization and vertical integration or open platforms, especially in the case of new energy vehicles, is a crucial theoretical issue in international business studies.

These contributions also suggested conclusions on policy implications in the current conflictual geopolitical environment.  In this context, EU industrial policies tend to be very late and insufficient.

A possible concluding remark is that a good amount of international cooperation in industry and technology is highly needed in order to face today’s global challenges, including climate change, energy transition and the building of a low-carbon economy. Global economy is so complex and integrated that a process of sharp and deep fragmentation would be very costly not only for involved companies and for single countries, leading to a lose-lose game, but also for the future of the planet.


[1] University of Turin, Questo indirizzo email è protetto dagli spambots. È necessario abilitare JavaScript per vederlo..


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