Abstract

The new standard for economic development in China, “New Quality Productive Forces,” not only relates to emerging high-tech industries but to traditional sectors, through the use of digital technologies, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI), through the future of AI+. This policy is a shift from economies of scale and resource-intensive production to “technological innovation, intelligent manufacturing, and the creation of high-value-added products” (State Council, People's Republic of China, 2024, p.1). This change in approach may be seen as a shift from a resource-based view to one concerning a platform economy, a shift from inside-out to outside-in (Zhou et al., 2024). This implies in China “support [for] the growth of the private economy and private enterprises, [and deepened] reforms in scientific and technological systems, as well as in the education and talent systems” (State Council, PR China, 2024, p. 4). In companies, corporate universities (CU), such as the Apple University, have been a method to develop new talent (Boston Consulting Group 2013). However, the limitation of CUs is that they were developed internally, with a focus on current products, standard operating procedures, and work efficiency. Evidence from China suggests an alternative model for CUs that meets the requirements of the platform economy more effectively: innovation ecosystems. In this model, CUs are developed not only internally, but also in partnership with schools and universities, a move from inside-out to outside-in. This model includes incubators, joint research centers, social networks, and innovation networks. Theories relevant to this field have also evolved, from knowledge absorption and absorptive capacity to exploratory and exploitative learning processes (Heimeriks, Bingham, & Laamanen, 2015). The outcomes shifted as well, from efficiency and productivity to technological exploration (Li, 2019), innovation performance (Love, Roper, & Vahter, 2014), innovation network success (Baum et al., 2010;) and value creation (Mani & Barua, 2015), This TREO suggests a discussion on how CUs, as innovation ecosystems, may meet the requirements of the platform economy, by comparing evidence from China and the guidelines of the “New Quality Productive Forces” policy in China with that of other countries, especially European ones.

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