Enhancing research on industrial economics in new development stage
China possesses the dual advantages of a complete industrial system and a super large market, and the long-term positive fundamentals of the economy have not changed. The recalibration of China’s industrial development strategies and the changes in the global industrial development environment have raised a series of important issues for the study of industrial economics, providing opportunities for the development of China’s independent knowledge system of industrial economics.
Modern industrial system
In recent years, the academic community in China has published many achievements surrounding the policy concept of the “modern industrial system,” but there is still room for further exploration and advancement along theoretical and practical dimensions.
Firstly, in the research on the modern industrial system itself, certain fundamental conceptual and theoretical issues remain to be addressed. Specifically, what constitutes an “industrial system,” and how does it differ from the concepts of “industrial structure” and “industrial ecology” in analyzing the interrelationships between industries? What are the evaluation criteria and indicator system for the modernization of the industrial system? Secondly, research on the real economy and manufacturing industry requires consensus regarding the definition and scope of the real economy, which requires in-depth study. The manufacturing industry is the core component of the real economy and the top priority in building a modern industrial system.
Innovation holds a key position in Chinese modernization. Innovation is a prominent subject in industrial economic research, and empirical research mainly adopts two paths: one involves using multiple innovation measurement indicators for econometric analysis, while the other entails conducting case studies on technological innovation in specific industries. In order to comprehensively enhance industrial innovation capabilities, certain important research issues still require strengthening. For example, how can a theory of industrial innovation systems with Chinese characteristics, aligned with the new development stage, be developed by drawing from the experiences and insights obtained from innovation analysis across various industries?
Digital, green and integrated research
The micro foundation of industrial economics lies in enterprises’ selection of technologies and allocation of various production factors to adapt to changes in the market and policy environment. With the accelerated application and infiltration of digital technologies and data factors into the industrial sector, coupled with the goal of green development, the intelligentization, greening, and integration of industries have had multiple impacts on micro-enterprises decision-making, and have also introduced many cutting-edge issues to industrial economic research.
Firstly, the development of the digital economy has facilitated research on real economic development. Building upon recent progress in the study of data factors and the digital economy, it is necessary to conduct in-depth research on the micro mechanisms by which data factors affect enterprise production decisions and competitive behaviors, incorporate research results from digital platform organizations, and construct new knowledge and theories for digital industry organizations. Secondly, accelerating the clean and low-carbon transformation of industries in the context of achieving “dual carbon” goals (the country aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060) will introduce new research questions pertaining to both the inputs and outputs of enterprises. Thirdly, the trend of integrated development of industries such as “manufacturing+services,” “manufacturing+agriculture,” “production+consumption,” and “product+data” is becoming increasingly apparent. What new challenges does the evolution of industrial forms bring to industrial correlation and statistics, and what further challenges does it pose to classic industrial economic theory based on industrial classification? How can the “integration dividend” brought by industrial integration development be measured? What impact does the trend of industrial integration have on market structure and competitive behavior? What challenges have emerged in defining relevant markets and implementing antitrust measures? These new issues go beyond the scope of traditional industrial economic research and require a new research agenda grounded in reality.
Industrial policy is an important means for governments to regulate the economy in reality, and it is also a classic issue in industrial economics research. The answer to the theoretical questions of how to define industrial policies and how to conduct research on industrial policies directly affects the positioning and effectiveness of industrial policies in fostering a new development pattern.
At the practical application level, an important task of current industrial policy research is to promote the transformation of industrial policies towards the new development stage. Studying the interactions of industrial policies between countries from a global perspective is also one of the research directions of industrial economics in the new development stage.
Huang Yanghua is a professor from the School of Applied Economics at Renmin University of China.