Does entrepreneurship, as it is defined in the United States and in other capitalist societies, exist in the People's Republic of China? If so, what does it look like? How does it work, and what challenges do its practitioners face from the government, consumers and competitors large and small?
In their new book, Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth in China, Ting Zhang, research assistant professor in the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business economic research center, the Jacob France Institute, and her co-author Roger R. Stough, vice president for research and economic development and professor of public policy at George Mason University, present a groundbreaking analysis of the existing economic dynamics and factors contributing to entrepreneurship in China.
The book, published by World Scientific Publishing Company Inc., gathers prominent contributors from a number of different fields, including regional science, economic planning, international trade, finance, and business, Chinese higher education, and that nation's field of public policy, to investigate, test and analyze issues surrounding the potential of entrepreneurship in China.
The authors' focus includes Chinese-style entrepreneurship as a driver of the country's economic growth, and a comparison of it to that of more market-oriented economies. Zhang and her contributors first pose a theoretical question of whether entrepreneurship exists in China, and, from there, its reach and what form it takes. They consider whether entrepreneurship in China is important to economic growth, and discuss how public policy can help to enhance the entrepreneurship and thus economic environment in China.
"China's entrepreneurship development and economic growth are tightly related, and our examination reveals strong regional disparities in wealth, stages of economic development, and education," said Zhang. "There is also a non-market dimension of the economy and entrepreneurship in China, due to its underdeveloped market economy and fuzzy property rights arrangements."
Zhang sees China's entrepreneurship and economic growth as transforming from network-based and labor intensive models to activity that is based in innovation with an increased emphasis on sustainability.
"Entrepreneurship and economic growth in China face enormous opportunities as well as challenges," she said. "Looking at data provided by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and the research conducted by Zoltan J. Acs [professor in the School of Public Policy and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Public Policy at George Mason University], China follows a knowledge intensive path to economic development; however, more effective knowledge transfer, spillover, and implementation would be crucial."
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor is the world's largest study of entrepreneurship.
Gathering data from many other sources with empirical research and case studies, Zhang says that Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth in China reveals that financing is another major area that China could enhance, given the level of legal impediments that potential borrowers and investors can encounter.
"Providing better institutional venture capital channels, enhanced accessibility to debt financing, better liquidity, a better stock market, and better corporate governance—all of these are things they could strengthen," Zhang said. "This could help with more entrepreneurial activities, smoother mergers and acquisitions, and economic growth."
Zhang noted that the book tested and showcased ideas that, if implemented, would result in higher levels of business diversity, private wealth, entrepreneurial culture, education, and effective public-private partnership. All of these, she said, are drivers to entrepreneurship and economic growth in China.
"It also helps readers to understand China's entrepreneurial and economic environment from cultural and historical perspectives," Zhang said. "The dynamics between entrepreneurship and economic growth in China provides insights that can be extended to many developing countries as well as the developed world."
Zhang's research interests include workforce development, entrepreneurship, regional economy, administrative records, and aging. She recently has focused on developing a profile of Maryland employment and business dynamics, examining recession impacts, tracking worker placement, investigating job creation mechanisms, exploring geographic dynamics of the economy, and diagnosing data quality using administrative records.
Zhang is the author of three books, two monographs and a number of academic journal articles. She is also a referee for several internationally renowned academic journals. Her book Elderly Entrepreneurship in an Aging Economy: It's Never Too Late was reviewed by The Gerontologist. She has been recently quoted by Bloomberg Businessweek and the Baltimore Sun regarding older people's entrepreneurship and Maryland's local economy and job creation, respectively. In addition to conducting research at the Jacob France Institute, Zhang also teaches in the Merrick School of Business. She has previously conducted research at George Mason University, the World Bank, the Urban Institute, and the Council of Graduate Schools, and taught at UMBC.
She was a winner of the Kauffman Dissertation Fellowship Award, a finalist in the Charles Tiebout Prize for Regional Science, a recipient of a U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration Research Fellowship Award, the Public Policy Paper Competition by Virginia Department of Transportation, and several other awards, grants, and fellowships.