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The Shanzhai Phenomenon and its Implications

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The seminar aims to review the Shanzhai phenomenon and explore its wider implications to management studies and even the current debates about the Chinese economic model or the Beijing Consensus. Shanzhai is an emerging form of informal economic activity and industrial development in China. Using a network model, Shanzhai companies imitates, learns, and innovates new technologies and products at a much faster pace than traditional forms of production. More recently, its influence has been pronounced, particularly in the mobile phone and tablet computer industry where it has developed a sophisticated industrial cluster located in Shenzhen, China that produces more than 200 million mobile phone handsets annually at a much cheaper cost than those available in the global marketplace. Shanzhai has been recognized as a complex industrial system that includes four distinctive levels – products, industrial systems, ethos, and culture. Its unique nature, grassroots localized background, strong “informal” features, illegitimate status and behaviors therefore make it an exceptionally rich and novel area in need of empirical investigation, theory development, and fundamentally better understandings.

This talk is part of the China Research Seminar Series series.

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