Sustained upgrading of technological capability through ambidextrous learning for latecomer firms

Xinmin Peng, Suli Zheng*, Simon Collinson, Xiaobo Wu, Dong Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Many prior studies have examined latecomer firms’ learning and upgrading; however, the context of upgrading changes significantly when they passed the initial catch-up stage and we know very little about how latecomer firms achieve continuous upgrading after they enter into beyond catch-up stage. This study employs a longitudinal case study to investigate how a latecomer firm pursued ambidextrous learning and achieved technological upgrading successfully in three different stages. We find that latecomer firms can achieve sustained technological upgrading through ambidextrous learning and that the specific learning mode in different stages can evolve with windows of opportunity and technological capabilities. These findings extend our understanding of how latecomer firms can upgrade to the innovation frontier and shed new insights into the ambidextrous learning literature. Implications for policy are discussed and directions for further research are outlined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalAsian Journal of Technology Innovation
Issue number1
Early online date21 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [grant numbers 71772097, 71572187, 71502163, and 71232013].

Publisher Copyright:


  • Ambidextrous learning
  • catch-up
  • latecomer firms
  • technological capability
  • upgrading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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