GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2018, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (5): 910-924.doi: 10.11821/dlyj201805005

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Development pattern of scientific and technological innovation and typical zone in China based on the analysis of scale and efficiency

Hanchu LIU1,2(), Jie FAN1,2(), Kan ZHOU1   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 10049, China
  • Received:2017-12-25 Revised:2018-03-06 Online:2018-05-20 Published:2018-05-20
  • About author:

    Author: Shi Zhenqin (1988-), PhD, specialized in regional development and land space management in mountain areas. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Deng Wei (1957-), Professor, specialized in mountain environment and regional development.



The increasing influence of scientific and technological (S&T) innovation on the regional development spatial structure in China promotes the Chinese economy into a new era of endogenous growth driven by innovation. A large capital investment, from central to local, has been provided to enhance the capacity for innovation. Such an investment is important for the regional development within the transitional period. However, the S&T innovation efficiency is recognized as a more crucial factor affecting sustainable development in the long run. From the input-output perspective, this study develops a comprehensive framework for measuring the S&T innovation efficiency of 30 provinces in China. A methodology combining the distributed lag models of Almon and the variable returns to scale model is set up to assess the effective cumulative total investment scale of technological innovation and S&T innovation efficiency in China at the provincial level. Based on this assessment, the spatial variation and evolution of the S&T innovation efficiency are examined. Further, the type of region is identified by synthetically considering its investment scale and the S&T innovation efficiency, followed by several policy suggestions. The results are obtained as follows: (1) a large innovational investment gap, which is larger than the economic gap among regions, exists between coastal and inland areas; (2) the total S&T innovation efficiency of China is comparatively low, but the rising trend is continuous; (3) the S&T innovation efficiency shows an obvious spatial heterogeneity as high-efficiency provinces are mainly concentrated in wealthier coastal areas such as cities of Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai, as well as provinces of Zhejiang and Guangdong; the S&T innovation efficiency experiences a gradual decline from east to west within China; (4) a high spatial coupling between the S&T innovation efficiency and the level of economic development is observed as the S&T innovation efficiency decreases with the decline in the economic level; and (5) the 30 provinces can be classified into four types in terms of their investment scale and S&T innovation efficiency: the regions that are leaders, those that need to make a breakthrough, need to be promoted, and need to develop fast. Thus, policy suggestions could be put forward according to the strength and weakness of each type of region.

Key words: scientific and technological innovation, innovation efficiency, development pattern, hysteresis effect, DEA model, China