The rise of China's new energy vehicle lithium-ion battery industry: The coevolution of battery technological innovation systems and policies

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In recent decades, the technological innovation systems (TIS) framework has been applied to the study of technology development and diffusion. While policy is considered a key element of TIS analysis, less attention has been paid to the influence of TIS dynamics on policymaking. To better understand the coevolution between TIS and policies, this paper develop an analytical framework to highlight the coevolution between TIS dynamics and policymaking. The framework underlines not only the influence of policies on TIS functionality, but also that changes in TIS functionality may in turn feed back into policymaking: policymakers may observe changes in TIS functionality and adjust policies to account for this, but changes in TIS functionality may also have implications for the ability of TIS actors to influence policymaking. Empirically, we study the new energy vehicle battery (NEVB) industry in China since the early 2000s. In the case of China's NEVB industry, an increasingly strong and complicated coevolutionary relationship between the focal TIS and relevant policies at different levels of abstraction can be observed. Overall, we argue that more research is needed to better understand the agency side of how TIS development leads to changes in policymaking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100689
JournalEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The key policy document at high-level abstraction in this period was the Decision of the State Council on Accelerating the Cultivation and Development of Strategic Emerging Industries, or the Strategic Emerging Industries (SEI) program in 2009. It was specified in this document that starting from 2010, the state would launch a number of major projects and programs with the aim to promote strategic emerging industries with good market potential. The high-level policy aims, thus, shifted from the earlier emphasis on state-funded S&T activities to the cultivation of strategic industries such as energy conservation and environmental protection, renewable energy, new materials, new energy vehicles, etc., that have mass-production potentials. Unlike the MLP program in the first phase, where the state was one of the major players in supporting S&T development, in this period, government was supposed to create favourable market conditions for enterprises to commercialize and test commercializable technologies (Chen and Naughton, 2016). In contrast to the MLP, which was initially led by MoST and started as a science policy and only subsequently spilled over into industrial policy, the governing body for the SEI program was from the start the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the main economic planning agency (Chen and Naughton, 2016). The SEI program stipulated that policy effort should be made to support market expansion and business model innovation (high-level policy aims). It was argued that NEVs provided a good opportunity for industrial upgrading and transformation. Therefore, if China wanted to build a globally competitive automotive industry in the future, it had to strive to become one of the pioneers in research, technology development and commercialization of NEVs (, 2010)Huiwen Gong acknowledges financial support from Marie-Curie Standard Individual Fellowship, grant 894063; Teis Hansen acknowledges funding from the Research Council of Norway through FME NTRANS, grant 296205.

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© 2022

    Research areas

  • China, Coevolution, New electric vehicle battery industry, Policymaking, Technological innovation systems

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