walking distance of each other, a proximity which fosters personal interchange and cross-pollination of ideas. NCTU, NTHU and ITRI train large numbers of workers for the industries in HSP; company executives and ITRI officials teach in the two universities; and university professors turn to ITRI for assistance in developing practical applications of new ideas and sit on advisory boards of local companies. ITRI “has been praised as the incubator of Taiwan’s chief executive officers of publicly held companies and talents for industries,” and the same could be said of NCTU and NTHU. 3 The companies located in HSP account for about 15 percent of Taiwan’s GDP, making the park one of the most productive pieces of real estate on earth.4
The creation of ITRI, perhaps the most important milestone in the entire course of Taiwan’s industrialization, was the brainchild of an elite group of highly competent bureaucrats and business leaders, most of them holding degrees in engineering.5 They frequently had extensive experience working for multinational high technology companies and were in a position to apply their practical experience to the development of indigenous companies and industries.6 They were relatively unhindered by political pressure—the Kuomintang Party (KPT), which held a monopoly on political power until 1990, had a tradition of relying on “scientific” government planning when it arrived on Taiwan in 1949, and technocrats “had already won a large measure of independence from party and military control.”7 This pattern was maintained
3As of late 2006 ITRI had cultivated over 60 CEOs and 18,000 specialists for Taiwan’s high tech industries. “ITRI Transforms Into a Value Creator from a Tech Follower,” Taiwan Economic News (October 24, 2006).
4Interview with Han-Ping David Shieh, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan, February 16, 2012. In 2007, the Geneva-based World Economic Forum ranked Taiwan in first place worldwide in industrial clustering competitiveness, a distinction “attributed mainly to the effect of the world-renowned Hsinchu Science Park.” “Taiwan Ranks 1st Place in Industrial-Clustering Competitiveness Worldwide: WEF,” Taiwan Economic News (December 26, 2007).
5Eleven of the first fourteen individuals to serve as Minister for Economic Affairs in Taiwan held degrees in engineering or science. K.Y. Lin, Taiwan’s chief economic planner in the 1950s and early 1960s, had a degree in electrical engineering, and of his two assistants, one was a physicist and the other a civil engineer. MOEA’s Industrial Development Bureau, which created ITRI, was dominated by engineers at the time. Robert Wade, Governing the Market: Economic Theory and the Role of Government in East Asian Industrialization (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 1990), p. 98.
6Morris Chang, with 25 years of experience at Texas Instruments, is a former head of ITRI and when he moved to set up TSMC, he founded TSMC and “loaded TSMC’s ranks with American-trained managers such as Britt Brooks, Doug Chance (the successive general managers of TSMC) and other international professional manager. Among the managers, most of them are Chang’s former colleagues at TI.” Chang’s “excellent education and work experience established his professional knowledge in the semiconductor industry and contributed to the creation of the focused business model of the pure play foundry.” Similar observations could be made with respect to many members of the generation of leaders which oversaw Taiwan’s economic development. T. H. Liu, S. C Hung, S. Y. Wu, and Y. Y. Chu, “Technology Entrepreneurial Styles: A Comparison of UMC and TSMC,” International Journal of Technology Management Vo. 29 ½ (2005) p. 681. SEMI Oral History Interview, Morris Chang (August 24, 2007, Taipei, Taiwan).
7Chiang Kai-shek’s government, shaken by Japan’s seizure of Manchuria in 1931, came to believe that its survival depended on governing through a highly educated and professional bureaucracy.