Stephen Cummings: The rise of innovation in China

Stephen Cummings used his time as a Visiting Fellow at Peking University to observe the current pace of innovation in Chinese businesses and cities.

School of Management’s Professor of Strategy and Innovation Stephen Cummings (centre) at Weiming Lake, Haidian, China with New Zealand Centre staff from Peking University
School of Management’s Professor of Strategy and Innovation Stephen Cummings (centre) in China at Weiming Lake, Haidian, with New Zealand Centre staff from Peking University

Professor Stephen Cummings, recently returned from three months in Beijing, says the common misconception in the West that China copies but doesn’t innovate is increasingly hard to justify.

Professor Cummings was hosted as an Academic Fellow by the New Zealand Centre at Peking University, and gave a series of lectures on Chinese and Western approaches to innovation at the top-ranked Chinese university."The Chinese are quickly gearing up to promote their approach to 'mass entrepreneurship'; and the 'Made in China 2025' and 'One Belt, One Road' initiatives are focusing Chinese businesses and cities on innovating up the value chain and leapfrogging current market leaders in many areas," he says.

Professor Cummings was also a keynote speaker, alongside MIT's Emeritus Professor Edgar Schein, at neighbouring Tsinghua University's first annual Innovation in Management conference.

He was interviewed after his address by Tsinghua Business Review—China’s equivalent of the Harvard Business Review—which published 'The Rise of Creative Strategy in China' about his research.

"Companies like Alibaba, Tencent and Tsinghua University’s own TUSPark—which has recently expressed interest in a $1 billion investment in Northland— are able to use big data from consumer behaviour to innovate and develop new products and services at incredible speeds.

"The Chinese may organise innovation in different ways and at different scales from the models we are familiar with in the West, but their systems are no less impressive."

Following his successful tenure at PKU, Professor Cummings has been awarded an Erasmus fellowship to visit Sweden later this year where he will observe the unique Science Park at the centre of Jӧnkӧping University that supports entrepreneurs and start-up companies.