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“Cultural Bonds” in High Technology: Collaborations between Chinese Researchers in Nanotechnology

R. Leung and J. Li
University of Wisconsin-Madison, US

Keywords:
culture, collaboration, US-China relations

Abstract:
Socio-cultural issues have attracted increasing attention from policy makers in high technology. For example, a certain “culture” of high-tech fear, exemplified by Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel Prey, seems to have emerged in U.S. In this paper, I examine the cultural dimension of nanotechnology in an alternative way. Specifically, I look at how cultural bonds enter into scientific collaborations between ethnic Chinese researchers residing in U.S. and China. In U.S., ethnic Chinese researchers have constituted a large and important workforce. Although collaborations with researchers in China are not geographically convenient, professional journals have published a high number of collaborative studies that involve ethnic Chinese scientists residing in U.S. and China. I analyze the motivations behind such “culturally-based” collaborations. While patriotism plays an important role, new economic opportunities in China have added significant incentives for American Chinese researchers to collaborate with researchers in China. I also discuss the implications of such collaborations in the context of China’s modernization and changing US-China relations.

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