Measuring Innovative Capacities of Chinese Firms with Case Study of Huawei




Assistant Professor of Political Science

Project Summary

Coming from China and having parents both work for the Chinese government, I am deeply interested in understanding the Chinese political system and looking for potential ways to improve the Chinese government. As a prospective PPE major, I really enjoyed Professor Hou’s PSCI229 Chinese Domestic Politics class during my second semester at Penn and decided to work for Professor Hou’s Chinese politics research in the summer. Our research goal is to measure Chinese firms’ innovative capacity through quantitative data analysis and see how government policies influence innovation growth.

In my first part of research, I cleaned and analyzed data from Chinese Annual Manufacturing Firms Survey, which includes detailed operating, financing and investing variables of Chinese manufacturing firms across all sub-classifications. I narrowed our time span down to 2006-2007, when the Chinese government proposed a significant innovation policy called “indigenous innovation”(自主创新). I am interested in seeing how the policy change affects Chinese “high tech” firms’ average performing and if there is any regional innovation difference caused by the policy. Beyond that, I added up patents data from WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) to further complete the data for future research. In my second part of research, I did a case study of the Chinese telecommunication conglomerate Huawei. I not only summarized corporate history and statistics, but also focused on its differences with other telecommunication firms (Cisco, ZTE and Xiaomi, etc.) by looking at metrics such as R&D expense, employees’ education level, patents applications etc. I also connected to some Huawei employees to learn the distribution of its R&D center and product lines.

Working on this project was really eye-opening, and I learned many valuable research skills and data management skills. In this data-oriented project, I used multiple innovation database like Derwent, WIPO, and PatentScope to analyze and confirm our results. I also learned to merge and consolidate data by JMP and make illustrative charts by Excel. Other than hard skills, I found Penn Libraries a useful resource for research. In order to complete our data, I have to consult librarians to find useful innovation measurement and guide me how to access various database. They are really helpful and have provided many good advices on my research.

In conclusion, my summer research introduced me to the new, exciting field of China’s innovation growth. By analyzing multiple data sources, I gained a thorough understanding of Chinese firms’ innovation landscape and their relationship with policy changes. I believe my work this summer ended up laying the foundation for my future interests in PPE, and other research projects I will pursue during my career.