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Technological innovation systems (TIS) play significant roles in technology innovation. Apart from promoting technology innovations, some TIS can contribute to the sustainability of industry, while others cannot. However, existing innovation studies about understanding how TIS can impact industry sustainability have proven to be insufficient, especially in the industry of information technology (IT). By comparing two TISs of TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE in China’ telecommunication industry, this work aims to answer the questions about how TIS may impact IT industry sustainability, and what kinds of TIS enhance sustainability? An innovation system functions based framework is applied to structure the data collection and result analysis. Extensive documentary research and semi-structured interviews are conducted in this research. The comparative case study suggests: a well-functioned TIS significantly contributes to sustainability of IT industry, by pushing forward the process of socio-technical transformation; TIS functions are determined by its configuration, and a well-configured TIS could be characterised as: constituted by stable and early enrolled core actors, who connect with diversified and early developed networks, and influenced by both regulative powers and normative influences. This work advances the understanding of how industry sustainability is impacted by TIS, and what a TIS should be for enhancing sustainability. In practice, this work also offers practical implications for other technology late-coming countries who want to catch up through technology innovation like China.
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