Wen, Yun - The Rise of Chinese Transnational ICT Corporations: The Case of Huawei...

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Summer 2017
Degree type: 
School of Communication
Communication, Art & Technology
Senior supervisor: 
Yuezhi Zhao
Thesis title: 
The Rise of Chinese Transnational ICT Corporations: The Case of Huawei
Given Names: 
This dissertation considers the case of Huawei Technologies, a China-based transnational ICT corporation, as a microcosm to investigate the rise of China’s ICT corporate power and its relevant global implications. By focusing on the interrelation of transnational capital, state and class, this study aims to understand how China’s most competitive ICT firm was born and developed, how it forged connections with the Chinese state and intertwined with the trajectory of China’s ICT development, and how it responded to various forces of corporate China’s globalization and evolving geopolitical economic tensions. This dissertation establishes the transnational corporation as an analytical unit and places the emphasis on Huawei’s corporate activities and structure, including the firm’s domestic capital accumulation, international expansion, technological capability development, organizational structures and labor process. It argues that the rise of Huawei was closely tied to the turns and twists of China’s digital revolution. It came to symbolize a continuity of China’s nation-centric developmental strategy and the legacies of self-reliant development on the one hand, and was enmeshed with the country’s aspirations of reintegration into transnational digital capitalism on the other. The company’s strategy of internationalization, in conjunction with the Chinese state’s outward expansion, illustrates a peculiar logic, pattern and ramification of Chinese capital’s outward expansion. By investigating the dynamics and contradictions of Huawei’s capital accumulation, this dissertation also foregrounds the geoeconomic and geopolitical tensions arising from the globalization of China’s corporate power. This case suggests a potential realignment of the global political economic order. Huawei’s story sheds light on certain indigenous experiences and distinguishing features that contribute to a path-breaking model of development. The firm’s path to technological innovation provides an example to look into the possibility of nurturing a self-reliant model of technological development in the context of China’s industrial restructuring. Its innovative design of the ownership structure also illustrates a distinct corporate structure and managerial practices with Chinese characteristics. This dissertation concludes that at the core of China’s path-breaking model lies in local alternatives and indigenous agencies that have the ability to insist on self-reliant, open-minded, innovation-oriented development strategies.
Huawei; transnational ICT corporation; digital capitalism; globalization; Chinese model; geopolitical-economic tension.
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