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Transnational Communities Programme

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Ethnic enterprise, class, and the state: The Chinese in Britain, Southeast Asia and Australia

  Short Summary

Principal Investigators
Professor Gregor Benton
School of History and Archaeology
Cardiff University
P.O.Box 909
Cardiff CF1 3XU
Dr Edmund T. Gomez
East Asian Studies
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT
Professor Gregor Benton
Tel: 01222 874000
Duration of Research
April 1999 - April 2002

Aims and objectives

Overseas Chinese have faired well in business and are seen by some writers as "global tribes" and potentially immensely wealthy players on the world business stage. According to such writers, overseas Chinese owe their business acumen to ancestrally derived cultural values of an almost "racial" nature. However, their theory is unable to explain why Chinese businesses thrive better in some contexts than in others and why some Chinese sub-groups from this or that part of China have performed better in business than others of their compatriots. This research aims to explain these differences.

Methodology/study design

The class and educational background of the different sub-groups and the contexts in which they find themselves will be looked at. Their historical origins will be traces and the political and economic systems under which they exist will be explored, in particular, the nature of their reception by the state authorities in their new homelands. Case studies of large, medium and small-scale enterprises will be carried out to compare ownership and control patterns and the form of corporate development of Chinese companies. The four contexts of the research are Britain, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, which all have large Chinese business communities.

Academic and Policy implications

This research will yield huge archives of material on overseas Chinese and will contribute new knowledge about the actual operations of ethnic enterprises. The findings will be of use to Government and international bodies at the European and Southeast Asian levels concerned with economic cooperation and also to Government bodies concerned with formulation policy on race relations and immigration. In the business community, the research will provide information on potential investment areas and possible joint-ventures.


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