This article examines the relationship between the technological regime and the technological catch-up, using US patent data. This study first extends the notion of technological regimes as more appropriate for the catching-up context before it goes on to develop the quantitative expressions of technological regime variables. Then, it investigates in which technological classes technological catch-up tends either to occur or not to occur and what affects the speed of the catch-up. This study has found that catching-up is more likely to happen in those technological classes with shorter technological cycle time and more initial stock of knowledge and that among those candidate classes the actual speed of catch-up varies depending on appropriability and knowledge accessibility. This implies that the factors that determine the occurrence of catch-up and the speed of catch-up are different. Comparing the level of technological capability of the advanced and catching-up economies, the article has found that catching-up countries tend to achieve high levels in the technological sectors with shorter cycle time, easier access to knowledge, and higher appropriability, whereas the advanced countries show the exactly opposite performances. The study also confirms the organizational selection hypothesis such that the firms of different organizations and strategies show divergent degrees of fitness in the different environment or technological regime. We find that the Korean firms find themselves more fitted to technological regimes featured by low appropriability and high cumulativeness (persistence), whereas the Taiwanese firms are more fitted to technological regimes featured by high appropriability and low cumulativeness (persistence). Our findings are consistent with the following characterization of the firms in Korea and Taiwan. The Korean firms, dominated by the so-called Chaebols especially in patent registrations, are characterized as less flexible, large diversified conglomerates and pursing more independent R&D and learning strategies. The Taiwanese firms are characterized as more flexible, network-based, specialized firms and pursuing more cooperative R&D and learning strategies.
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