1. ESRC Genomics Network (archive)
  2. Gengage
  3. The Human Genre Project

Egenis · Research

An Investigation of Interdisciplinary Research Patterns in the R&D Sector of the Biotechnology Industry in China

Kai Wang

Start date


Affiliated staff

Prof John Dupré and Prof Barry Barnes


Tel: 01392 269142 Fax: 01392 264676 Email: kw257@exeter.ac.uk Building: Byrne House Room Number: FF10


China’s rich and diverse biological resources provide the basis for its development of biotechnology. For example, it has a strategetic focus on applying modern biotechnological expertise to the research and development of Traditional Chinese Medicine. With a population of approximately 1.3 billion, and with the increasingly urgent problem of an aging population, China faces great challenges regarding agricultural development and healthcare. The development of the biotechnology industry therefore is of great significance to China’s sustainable development. However, the biotechnology industry in China is confronted by a variety of problems, including insufficient innovation, poor coordination, and a weak translational system between scientific research and industrial application. These factors have all negatively affected China’s biotechnology development. To tackle these problems, a series of strategies have been implemented both at national and industrial levels by the academic community and policy makers in China. Nonetheless, there is less attention being paid to the issue of interdisciplinarity in R&D organizations within the biotechnology industry in China than many analysts deem to be appropriate.


My primary research aim is to examine how interdisciplinary research (IDR) patterns develop in the form of evolving networks within a social context, and to identify what distinctive strategies are used in IDR groups for solving research problems. To uncover, identify and analyze common underlying patterns in research strategies widely adopted in the R&D sector, I propose to study several examples of work carried out by IDR groups within China’s biotechnology industry and allied research in university laboratories or research institutes. I will compare these with similar examples in the UK.


An historical approach to data collected about the types and results of research within China’s biotechnology industry will serve as a starting point, while undertaking a careful sociological analysis of the internal organization and hierarchy of relevant laboratories in relation to social context. Review and analysis of philosophical literature of the concepts of ‘discipline’ and ‘interdisciplinarity’ and of their interconnections within IDR provides the core theoretical framework for this study.

Policy implications

Included in this study, a comparative study of biotechnological research in the UK with that in China will generate insights to guide research governance at both the policy level and in management practices in both countries.