The strategic role of world-class universities in regional innovation system: China's Greater Bay Area and Hong Kong's academic profession

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

Abstract

Purpose: This paper aims to examine the strategic role of world-class universities and the international academic profession in the regionalisation project of China's Greater Bay Area (GBA). It illustrates the way in which the case of the GBA regionalisation project offers a potentially rich empirical example for adding contextual understanding to the literature of the Triple Helix model, which largely draws on inductive theorising from western successful innovation cases. The GBA regionalisation processes will provide a wealth of empirical cases for identifying circumstances that address tensions and increase interactions in the Triple Helix relationship of university, government and industry for fostering knowledge synergies.

Design/methodology/approach: Focusing on the case of Hong Kong, it engages in policy and stakeholder analysis and addresses three key research questions: What are the competitive advantages and potential strategic role of Hong Kong's universities and academic profession in the regionalisation of innovation systems in the GBA? What is the role of the governments in the regionalisation processes? What are the expected opportunities and challenges offered by the GBA policy initiatives for the future development of Hong Kong's universities and academic profession?

Findings: Hong Kong, given its status as an international finance centre and global city with intense internationalisation and established judicial system operated by the rule of law, will contribute to the GBA development by leveraging on its edge in scientific research and development and international networks of academic research through the world-class academic profession. Scientists and researchers in the city, possessing the competitive advantages of basic research and international partnerships, are highly regarded by the central government. The engagement of Hong Kong's scientific talents, can play an important role in achieving China's aspiration of becoming a global technology power.

Research limitations/implications: Analysis of this article implies that the GBA concept is currently China's ambitious but vague economic plan. The opportunities in which key node cities and knowledge/ innovation clusters will capture and capitalise from the regional 'co-opetitive' entrepreneurial ecosystem are still unclear. The future of the GBA regionalisation is so dynamic and open-ended that grounded concepts related to the governance innovation/ discourse of 'one country two systems' and social connectedness and capitalisation with Chinese characteristics will help in making sense of the contextualisation of a Chinese regional innovation system and enhancing the sophistication of reconceptualisation of the Triple Helix model.

Originality/value: This article will add to the literature some novel contextualised knowledge about the GBA's potential triple-helix relationship between government-university-industry in the 21st century. The empirical example of China's GBA will also shed light on a new understanding of the role of international social capital in the entrepreneurial knowledge economy, dynamics between basic and applied research, and a synergistic interface between regionalisation and national innovation system. Copyright © 2020 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAsian Education and Development Studies
Early online dateAug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Aug 2020

Citation

Tang, H.-H. H. (2020). The strategic role of world-class universities in regional innovation system: China's Greater Bay Area and Hong Kong's academic profession. Asian Education and Development Studies. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1108/AEDS-10-2019-0163

Keywords

  • Hong Kong
  • Triple helix
  • Academic profession
  • China's greater bay area
  • Regional innovation system
  • World-class universities

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