Who are the Chinese private entrepreneurs? A study of entrepreneurial attributes and business governance

Guangjin Chen, Jun Li, Harry Matlay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to explore the key micro factors that are shaping Chinese entrepreneurship: socio-political origins, motivations, educational attainment, organisational forms and power structures. Design/methodology/approach - The paper employs a questionnaire survey approach, involving a sample of private entrepreneurs who responded in 1993, 1997, 2000, 2002, and 2004. Findings - The findings reveal a remarkable change in the origin of private entrepreneurs, from a lower to a higher social background. It emerges that individuals were primarily motivated to become private entrepreneurs by positive factors. Increasingly, since the late 1990s, individuals who chose private entrepreneurship exhibited much-improved educational attainments. Significantly, many enterprises have not yet separated ownership from the management function. Research limitations/implications - The data under investigation are not yet fully explored. Further analyses of the impact that the changing attributes of private entrepreneurs could have on entrepreneurial firms is planned for the near future. Practical implications - From the perspective of social changes, there is a need for differential policies to support novice entrepreneurs who originated from a poor social background. Current business governance indicate a tough task to create an organisational structure and management style that would maintain the entrepreneurial spirit and accommodate the needs for control, delegation, and co-ordination within the organisation. Originality/value - The paper uses the newly available nationwide survey data to explore the attributes of private entrepreneurs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-160
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


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