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215 x 140 mm, 35 pp
English, 1994/01
ISBN: 978-962-441-038-9

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Chinese Entrepreneurship in Context
Tai-lok Lui, Thomas W.P. Wong
HKIAPS, Occasional Paper Series
Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, CUHK

This paper is an attempt to join the current research on the Chinese entrepreneurial ethic on two counts. First, we shall review the literature and identify the ambiguities in the current conceptualizations of Chinese entrepreneurial ethic. It is our suggestion that there exists the tension between, on the one hand, an emphasis on strategizing behaviour and, on the other, a tendency to insist on a culturalist collimation in the current discussion. We shall contend that existing research largely supports the strategic perspective. Furthermore, it is argued that, in order to grasp the meaning of Chinese entrepreneurship, one must place it in its social context and see it not as a value for defining ends of actions but as a tool for developing action strategies. Secondly, drawing upon survey data on social mobility in contemporary Hong Kong, we shall examine the construction of the Chinese entrepreneurial strategy in the context of social stratification and opportunity structure. Our findings suggest that entrepreneurship can best be conceived as an option of mobility strategy in an economy characterized by rapid growth and the predominance of small business. Moreover, in our analysis of entrepreneurship as a mobility strategy, we shall point out that running a small business is by no means the only channel of social mobility in contemporary Hong Kong. Equally important is the strategy of credentialism and bureaucratic career. By placing the Chinese entrepreneurial ethic in its social context, we are able to see its connection with other strategies of social advancement.

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