INTA Doctoral Candidate’s Research Solicited by Security Review Commission

Michael Murphree, a doctoral candidate in The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs (INTA), found himself conducting field research in China (officially the People’s Republic of China) this past summer through a grant from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC). His research, co-authored with Dan Breznitz, associate professor with a joint appointment in the Scheller College of Business and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, revealed a high degree of government involvement in the China’s technology standards policies, but not in the usual way.

“Although the U.S. government and enterprises are highly concerned about China’s development of unique and exclusionary standards―where foreign enterprises are not allowed to contribute or are only allowed to participate on an unequal basis―these standards are no longer the general focus of Chinese policy, nor have they been successful, even within China’s market,” explained Murphree.

He said the new focus lies with the government’s emphasis on cheap technology, and that comes with its own challenges.

“In Chinese standards, there is a growing consensus that proprietary technology should be licensed for free or at a nominal rate in order to make the standard internationally competitive. For Chinese firms, which are producers of physical products, this is designed to improve their sales and profit margins. For firms which emphasize the monetization of intellectual property as a competitive strategy, this is a potential challenge,” Murphree said.

Murphree and Breznitz conducted interviews in Beijing, Xiamen, and Qingdao through the USCC grant. Their research, presented in the paper “The Rise of China in Technology Standards: New Norms in Old Institutions," is now available online.

The Commission was created by the United States Congress in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and China and to provide recommendations, where appropriate, to Congress for legislative and administrative action.

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