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The Role of Technological Trajectories in Catching-up-based Development: An Application to Energy Efficiency Technologies

Wednesday, 6 September 2017
12:00 noon to 1:00 pm
ESI Conference Room
Dr. Zhong Sheng


The authors, Zhong Sheng & Bart Verspagen argue that the analysis level of a technological trajectory is very suitable to analyze the decisions of latecomer countries with regard to the technological area that they should focus on. Technological trajectories are the main focal points along which technological innovation develops, and they are more detailed than the common sectors. We present a collection of methods that have been proposed in the literature to identify the main technological trajectories. These methods use patent citation networks, and are applied to three separate fields in energy efficiency technologies, based on the OECD ENV-TECH list and patent data from the European Patent Office. We identify the relevant technological trajectories, and analyze how the main countries active in these fields can be classified as either latecomer or incumbent countries. We then present two measures for assessing countries’ contribution and interest in these fields. We use an explorative regression model to establish that latecomer countries tend to contribute to a lesser extent than incumbents to the main technological trajectories in the fields under investigation.


Dr. Zhong Sheng joined the Energy Studies Institute in August 2017as a Research Fellow.  He was previously a PhD Fellow at the United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) in the Netherlands funded by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Sheng obtained a PhD in Economics from Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Prior to that, he completed an MA in Development Economics at the University of Warsaw in Poland, funded by the European Commission Erasmus Mundus Programme. Before that, Sheng earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Fudan University, China.

His research interests include sustainable development, innovation and technological change, with a focus on energy efficiency. His research field also covers areas such as applied econometrics and quantitative methods.

He has extensive academic and professional working experience. He tutored in the bachelor’s program at the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics and in the master’s program at Maastricht Graduate School of Governance. He served as a supervisor for several bachelor theses at the same University. He also previously worked at UNU and UNIDO on various projects, including the International Social Protection Studies Programme (funded by GIZ Germany), UNIDO Industrial Development Report 2016 and UNIDO Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development Working Paper Series.