Risk and Mobility: A Case Study of the Thin-Film Transistor Liquid-Crystal Display Industry in East Asia

Volume 09, Issue 2

As East Asian capitalism undergoes a series of changes, scholars have begun to study the effects of globalization on the development and decline of East Asian local industry and society. This article is a comparative analysis of the changing trajectories of the Taiwanese and Japanese thin-film transistor liquid-crystal display industries. It explores how Taiwan introduced, through collaboration, tacit knowledge from Japan, then conveyed that knowledge to mainland China, and closes with a discussion of the risks of tacit knowledge accumulation and cross-border talent mobility. Drawing on in-depth interviews and secondary-source analysis, the author shows that tacit knowledge and expertise are offshoots of the long-term accumulation of experience and technical knowledge that cannot be presented in manuals; they spread through the flow of technical personnel. Intellectual property rights cannot protect tacit knowledge. It is extremely difficult to keep it from traveling to other countries, which poses a risk for the development of Taiwanese high-tech industries. These findings help explain the surprising ways in which global technology flows affect employment in local high-tech industries.

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