Strategic Network Orchestration in Emerging Markets: China’s Catch-up in the High-Speed Train Industry

Huaichuan Rui, Olga Bruyaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transitioning from catch-up in production to catch-up in innovation capabilities is es- sential to emerging market firms (EMFs) achieving internationalization and a competi- tive advantage. While some EMFs are now positioned among the world’s most advanced firms, many struggle to become independent innovators. Thus, understanding how EMFs can develop internal absorptive capacity and progress towards catching up in innovation capabilities remains important. Our study seizes this research opportunity and develops a network-based explanation of catch-up, which complements existing technological and organizational explanations. Specifically, we address the question of ‘How does the or- chestration of collaborative networks enable EMFs to catch up in production and inno- vation capabilities?’ by describing an important yet under-researched process of strate- gic network orchestration and showcasing the dynamic interdependencies between net- work orchestration and organizational learning. Our study provides a detailed account of Chinese high-speed train (HST) development from 1990 to 2020 and opens the possi- bility for future research on network orchestration in emerging market contexts. This pro- vides EMF managers with a set of actionable network orchestration mechanisms that can be used when designing and purposefully managing their strategic nets of domestic and foreign partners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97–123
Number of pages27
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue number1
Early online date7 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Feb 2021


  • catch-up
  • network orchestration
  • Developing countries
  • China
  • high-speed train
  • organisational innovation
  • industrial policy

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