Purpose – Through examining the development of the video compact disc player industry in China, this article aims to explore the main characteristics of world‐first innovation and identify four success factors for innovation followers to launch world‐first products in catching‐up countries. Design/methodology/approach – This article takes the form of a case study Findings – The main characteristics of world‐first innovation in catching‐up countries include: from the demand side, innovation is mainly pulled by the local market, rather than technology‐push; from the supply side, innovation cannot isolate itself from the rest of the world – suppliers of key technologies in advanced countries play an important role; inter‐firm alliances are an increasingly important way to generate world‐first innovation; and downstream integration capabilities are required for followers to mix pieces of technologies together at competitive pricing. The success of followers from catching‐up countries to launch world‐first products hinges on the four critical factors: strengths of complementary assets; figuring out ways to meet local market demand without relying on large R&D spending; emphasizing untapped innovation opportunities by multinationals; and positioning themselves on the proper points of the globally coordinated network for innovation. Originality/value – This article identifies the main characteristics of world‐first innovation and points out four success factors for innovation followers to launch world‐first products, which could be significant to managers in catching‐up countries. Findings of this paper are more relevant to large catching‐up countries such as India, Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia where a large domestic market could serve as important launch markets for the world‐first innovation.
Journal of Technology Management in China – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 1, 2010
Keywords: China; Innovation; Developing countries