As part of our series of TIM-troductions, meet Kenneth Huang who is currently at the National University of Singapore, which is in, you guessed it, Singapore! So, Kenneth…
What are your research interests right now?
My research focuses on innovation, technology management and entrepreneurship especially in the contexts of high-tech industries such as AI, biotechnology/life sciences, information and communications technology (ICT), energy and environment. In particular, I seek to understand how different institutional arrangements in intellectual property (IP) and associated technology strategy and science policy shape the knowledge processes, innovation performance and productivity of technology-based firms, public organizations and universities, engineers/scientists and regions. I examine these important issues in developed economies like the U.S. and in emerging economies like China and ASEAN, which present different, often contrasting, institutional environments and conditions for innovation.
What do you think is your most exciting contribution to academia?
A key contribution I have made is to advance our understanding of how different formal and informal institutions can facilitate or impede technological innovation and scientific knowledge. In particular, I have examined how formal intellectual property rights (IPR) regime shapes follow-on scientific and innovation activities. I found that in developed economies like the U.S., overlapping patent rights (i.e., patent thickets) decrease follow-on scientific knowledge utilization and innovation in the context of genomics. In developing or transitional economies like China, having a strong IPR regime does not necessarily induce domestic firms to take up more patenting to protect their intellectual assets. Indeed, compared to foreign firms which readily adopt formal IPR protection (e.g., through more patents), domestic Chinese firms are deeply embedded in China’s informal institutions to advance their private interest, access political or social capital and optimize performance. This is manifested in Chinese firms’ stickiness or lack of responsiveness to formal institutional changes in IPR regime as they tend to rely more on informal norm-based approaches and guanxi networks. I continue to investigate how other informal institutions such as culture/cultural tightness and norms shape innovation outcomes in emerging economies. Interestingly, I find that the quality and transparency of local government (i.e., public governance) and corporate governance play a major role in influencing innovation trajectories in firms and organizations.
Tell us something personal about yourself.
I am an avid cyclist. I also enjoy traveling and exploring different countries and lesser known regions and immersing in their culture and food! I often do this in the company of family and close friends which is especially fun and memorable!
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