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China's Leap into the Information Age

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China's Leap into the Information Age

Innovation and Organization in the Computer Industry

Oxford UP,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

China’s largest tech companies, which emerged from the reforms of the 1990s, provide computers, software, servers and components to the world’s largest market — and they’re making very capitalistic profits.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


Chinese tech firm is an oxymoron, right? Not at all, according to this intriguing work by the late professor Qiwen Lu. This book, fascinating at times, offers an in-depth look at four successful Chinese tech enterprises. Taking each of the four as a case study, Lu thoroughly illustrates the challenges facing a bureaucracy attempting to break into a fast-changing industry. In spite of its good points, Lu's book isn't perfect. The text is laden with jargon, and at times it's difficult to understand exactly how these enterprises are organized. Still, there's plenty to like about this book. getAbstract recommends it to anyone interested in emerging economies, technology or international trade, or to anyone willing to have their expectations overturned.


In the 1980s, Chinese manufacturers weren't players in the personal-computer market. Even in the early 1990s, Compaq and IBM controlled the PC market in China. However, by the late 1990s, Chinese computer makers had taken control of two-thirds of the Chinese computer market. What changed?

Chinese companies such as Legend Group, Beijing Founder Electronics and China Great Wall Computer Group learned how to make PCs that were just as fast and often cheaper than those made by American companies. Chinese companies distinguished themselves in both performance and price in the computer industry, which is among China's most open and competitive markets. China became a net exporter of computer equipment in 1991.

Building Capability from the Top Down

Astute observers could have predicted this rise of homegrown Chinese PC firms. Their success is the result of a long process of capability building or technological learning, which began in the early 1980s, when the Chinese government reformed its science and technology system. In a developing nation such as China, technological concerns must obtain skills through a learning process, which is defined as acquiring the ability...

About the Author

The late Qiwen Lu was assistant professor of Asian business at the European Institute of Business Information in Fontainebleau, France. He died of liver cancer in August 1999, shortly after finishing this book.

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