Johns Hopkins SAIS expert available to discuss the global division of labor in renewable energy innovation

Renewable energy firms in China, Germany, and the United States have developed distinct and complementary innovative capabilities, according to a new paper by Jonas Nahm, Assistant Professor of Energy, Resources, and Environment at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
Using wind and solar sectors as a window into assessing broader patterns of industrial specialization in emerging high-technology industries, Nahm finds that firms utilize both legacy institutions and engage in relational learning in global networks to develop distinct niches in emerging industries. Even in highly globalized industries, firms respond to industrial policy by incrementally building on existing industrial capabilities and rely on familiar domestic resources and institutions to engage a global division of labor.
Based on an original dataset of more than 200 firm-level interviews, Nahm suggests that the rise of global value chains has widened the space for national diversity in industrial specialization. Firms no longer have to establish the full range of skills to bring an idea from lab to market, but can specialize and collaborate with others.
Nahm’s findings illustrate the role of industrial legacies in shaping a firm’s position in global value chains. It also shows that firms are active agents in maintaining distinct industrial specializations and domestic institutions under conditions of globalization. He is available to further discuss:

  • What are the differences in innovation strategies across Chinese, German, and U.S. wind and solar sectors?
  • Are the U.S. and China locked in a clean energy race? What will happen if the U.S. federal government stops supporting renewable energy?
  • What is the division of labor in global renewable energy supply chains?
  • What is the relationship between manufacturing and innovation in global renewable energy sectors?
  • Why are trade barriers detrimental to wind and solar innovation?
  • How can U.S. firms compete with China’s wind and solar industries?
  • Why has Germany been able to maintain a large manufacturing workforce in wind and solar sectors, despite a high-wage, high-regulation environment?
  • How can smart government policy support innovation, jobs, and growth in wind and solar industries?

Nahm’s research focuses on the political economy of development and industrial upgrading in green industries, the politics of innovation, and the political economy of the energy sector. In addition to China – his primary focus for the exploration of these themes – his research draws on cases in Germany and the United States. Before joining Johns Hopkins SAIS, Nahm was a Postdoctoral Fellow for International and Public Affairs at the Watson Institute at Brown University. He completed a PhD in Political Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), holds an MA in Political Science and Asia-Pacific Studies from the University of Toronto, and graduated with a BA in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge.
Read more: Renewable futures and industrial legacies: Wind and solar sectors in China, Germany, and the United States
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About Johns Hopkins SAIS
A division of Johns Hopkins University, the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is a global institution that offers students an international perspective on today's critical issues. For nearly 75 years, Johns Hopkins SAIS has produced great leaders, thinkers, and practitioners of international relations. Public leaders and private sector executives alike seek the counsel of the faculty, whose ideas and research inform and shape policy. Johns Hopkins SAIS offers a global perspective across three campus locations: Bologna, Italy; Nanjing, China; and Washington, D.C. The school’s interdisciplinary curriculum is strongly rooted in the study of international economics, international relations, and regional studies, preparing students to address multifaceted challenges in the world today.
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Tuesday, April 4, 2017