International, intra-national and inter-firm knowledge diffusion and technological catch-up: the USA, Japan, Korea and Taiwan in the memory chip industry
Using data on US patent citations, this paper investigates the pattern of international, intranational and interfirm knowledge diffusion in the process of technological catch-up by Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese firms in the memory chip industry. First, regarding international diffusion, this paper finds that the ordering of citations is exactly the same as the order of entry into the industry: Taiwanese firms tend to cite Korean firms, Korean firms tend to cite Japanese firms and Japanese firms tend to cite US firms. Second, the degree of intranational knowledge diffusion is proportional to the level of technological capability or order of entry, although it is also affected by organisational differences among the firms. Third, the difference in patterns of interfirm knowledge reflects difference across organisations, such that big Korean group firms are less oriented toward interfirm knowledge diffusion compared with their Taiwanese small and medium enterprise (SME) counterparts. To explain such difference, the role of government research institutions has been highlighted, especially since the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) accounts for the lion's share of Taiwanese-held patents and in the spin-offs of many firms in the industry.