China's Rational Entrepreneurs: The Development of the New Private Business Sector

China's Rational Entrepreneurs: The Development of the New Private Business Sector

China's Rational Entrepreneurs: The Development of the New Private Business Sector

China's Rational Entrepreneurs: The Development of the New Private Business Sector

Synopsis

The ability of China's entrepreneurs to establish firms in the midst of a strangling bureaucratic system is a topic which demands attention not least because it forms the basis of China's economic development. Combining theoretical approaches with extensive fieldwork, China's Rational Entrepreneurs presents a fresh angle of analysis for understanding the behaviour of Chinese entrepreneurs and what kind of relations they have with local government in order to secure long-term business success.

Excerpt

Gordon Redding

The challenge of analysing management in China is affected by large influences which make its circumstances unique. In the first place change has been very fast. The period from 1980 - when private business was conducted furtively on pavements watching out for policemen, or in whispers between conspirators - to the point now - where it accounts for half the economy and where party membership is possible for business owners - has been a period of immense growth at blinding speed. This makes the economy a moving target as far as analysis is concerned. The second distinct feature is the persistent role of the state in the economy, reflection perhaps of a historical sense of state duty to maintain order. This means that market logics have so far played a muted role in much that has occurred. The third feature which singles out China from other nations is the legacy of a major social catastrophe - the Cultural Revolution - and its unvoiced influences on people's minds and attitudes, at least now among those who lived through it when they consider the thirty million who did not.

The main idea in this paper is that societies, in making sense of their surroundings, come to different agreements in the process of interpreting reality, and that these different mental landscapes shape the behaviour of people in them in ways which produce different economic structures and behaviour. The case is developed of how a Western form of rationality was central to the evolution of Western capitalism. By examining how this took place, the ground is laid for proposing the possibility of a Chinese alternative.

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