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Indiana University

Experiences inform research and teaching

Jeffrey Hart, left, on the bus between visits with Tricia McDougall of the Kelley School of Business

Each member of IU’s delegation of scholars, business people and journalists had their own goals and objectives to accomplish during our visit to China. In this guest column by Jeffrey Hart, professor of political science in IU’s College of Arts and Sciences, he discusses how our experiences at the places we visited will help frame his future research and teaching.

Here is Jeff’s recollection:

“When Scott Kennedy asked me several months ago if I was interested in joining a study group that was traveling to China, I jumped at the chance.  My research on the politics of competition in high tech industries suggested that when demand and production shifted away from the industrialized nations to what are now called the emerging nations, so did R&D and innovation.

“This had happened, for example, in the flat panel display industry, when first Japan, and then later Taiwan and South Korea, became the main location for producing displays.  Since production of flat panel displays was now shifting to China, I wanted to see for myself if China would be the new location for innovation in that industry.

“A broader, but related, question, was whether China would be able to upgrade its production to higher value-added, knowledge-intensive goods and services as had happened earlier in Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.  I wanted to know more about the “industrial policies” that China was adopting in order to assure this result.

“So Scott was kind enough to arrange visits to a flat panel display firm in China (Tianma), to a biotech firm (Crown Bio), and a television station that featured digital televisions services bundled with phone and Internet access to cable customers.

“Thanks to the visits, it was possible for me to draw some short-term conclusions about Chinese innovation and to apply for funding for further research on these and related questions. As important as the study tour was for enabling me to pursue some of my research interests, it also gave me an insight into the tremendous dynamism of the Chinese system, insights that I can share with my colleagues and students.

“I have already delivered two talks at conferences using examples from the trip and my students have seen my photos of what Shanghai and Hangzhou look like and have heard about how U.S. firms and state and local governments are partnering with Chinese firms and regional governments to pursue their goals.  In short, it was a great trip.  I hope I will be able to go back for another look.”

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