2016 Volume 4 Issue 4 Pages 27-41
Having once been the headquarters of ‘Made in China,’ Shenzhen’s industry is currently undergoing profound change. The appearance of new urban places for technological innovation is reviving the ageing industrial processes of this manufacturing city. It is supposed to transform Shenzhen into the Silicon Valley of hardware. Two groups, one local, the shanzhai community made up of entrepreneurs and companies historically based on a strategy of imitating high end products, and the other, a more international maker community, are thought to be the main drivers of this change using values of ‘open innovation’. The building of this ecosystem relies largely on practices associated with being open-source. Like in California, open innovation contributed to the creation of resources for the development of a vast high-tech industry. This ethnographic field study shows how, while both communities, the international makers and the shanzhai, draw on open innovation, they do not have the same values. For the shanzhai, open innovation means total deregulation and a kind of coopetition that poorly masks fierce competition. For the makers, open innovation does not entirely eliminate the classic tension between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ commons in the world of makers. These two communities still rarely collaborate.