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Research Activities

Research Projects

FY 2006/2007 Research Topic: 4-11
Chinese Enterprises: The Quest for Industrial Upgrading amid Transition


In recent years China has been working to establish itself as the nation with the largest manufacturing capacity in the world, churning out enormous varieties of products from textiles to automobiles. Indigenous Chinese firms are gaining competitiveness in export-oriented manufacturing, which was once almost completely dominated by foreign firms. Behind this accelerated industrialization we witness an ongoing tide of transformation of industrial sub-sectors. On the one hand, China is building up capacity in industrial materials such as steel and petrochemical, including high value-added products that have been largely imported from industrialized countries in the past. In advanced sub-sectors such as communication equipment and semiconductors, the country is eager to build its own technological capabilities. On the other hand, in labor-intensive sub-sectors in which China still boasts strong competitive advantage, Chinese firms are pushing aggressively into the international market, exploiting the country's huge industrial agglomeration as leverage.

At the same time, Chinese firms as organization are still in the process of transition, and there are various challenges to be addressed. The reform of large state-owned enterprises remains the "final step" in the transition to a market economy. Private firms, though exhibiting spectacular growth momentum, often suffer from managerial instability. Future trends of industrial upgrading and corporate reform will have a significant impact on the long-term growth of the China's economy, and this will inevitably affect the development of the world economy.

In this context, our research project focuses on two subjects: (1) Taking stock of the progress of corporate reform up to now in order to clarify the challenges to be addressed; and (2) A survey of recent developments in some representative sectors (automotives, automotive parts, steel, semiconductor, textiles and garments, and daily commodities), with a special emphasis on industrial upgrading and the building of production networks. We then explore the questions of how corporate and industrial evolution will affect both China's economic growth and the development of the world economy.


April 2006 - March 2008


Members of the Research Project

IMAI Kenichi
HUANG Xiaochun (Associate Professor, Hirosaki University)
MARUKAWA Tomoo (Associate Professor, University of Tokyo)
NAKAYA Nobuhiko (Associate Professor, Nagoya University)
Xu Jingming (Ph.D. candidate, University of Tokyo)