Chinese Business History: Interpretive Trends and Priorities for the Future

By Robert Gardella; Jane K. Leonard et al. | Go to book overview

Chinese Studies in History, vol. 31, nos. 3-4, Spring-Summer 1998, pp. 35-64. © 1998 M.E. Sharpe, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 0009-4633/1998 $9.50 + 0.00.

MAN BUN KWAN


Chinese Business History in the People's Republic of China
A Review

Reviewing historiographical development China, Harold Kahn and Albert Feuerwerker observed in 1964 how Chinese historians moved from the classroom to the platform in "a genuine attempt to find legitimization in China's past for the domestic and external developments of her most recent present." 1 Little seems to have changed thirty-two years later and developments have been attributed to a state-sponsored pluralism. 2 With a decade of economic reform since 1979, and another half-decade since 1991, it is perhaps an opportune time to take stock of changes in historiography, specifically business history, in China.

There is no lack of material from which a conclusion might be drawn. Although there is no Chinese equivalent of the term business history, this genre of economic history, loosely defined as the history of an enterprise, whether it be handicraft or industrial, commercial or financial, public or private, may be traced to Wei Yungong Record of the Jiangnan Arsenal [Jiangnan zhizaoju ji] in 1905. Since 1949, and especially after 1979, selected sources, monographs, and papers in academic journals related to the subject easily exceed 1,000. 3 In addition, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conferences have published at least 14,000 articles on various

____________________
From a paper presented at the workshop on Scholarly Research on Chinese Business History: Interpretative Trends and Priorities for the Future, University of Akron, Octo-ber 27-29, 1995.
Man Bun Kwan is on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati Department of History.
Critical comments by conference participants, especially S. Cochran, A. Feurerwerker, W. Kirby, and M. Zelin have helped me in revising this essay. All errors, of course, are mine.

-35-

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