Leo DOUW (University of Amsterdam), Embedding Transnational Enterprises in China during the Twentieth Century: Who's in Control? , English/32 Pages, July 2004.


This is a commentary from a historical angle on the crucial importance which mainstream management studies attach to cultural differences as a problem in Sino-foreign companies working in China. It is argued that business brokerage, if considered over the longer term, is concerned with different societies in the first place, which encompass more than culture alone and which change continually over time. In particular, the gains made by the foreign sector in the Chinese economy have been conceived differently by the Chinese and the foreign sides, and the differences in economic development between China and the West play a big role in those perceptions. The history of business brokerage in China is reviewed from the early 19th century until the start of globalisation in the 1990s; it evaluates the significance of the so-called comprador system during the 1860s-1930s and the closure of foreign enterprise of the Chinese economy during the 1950s-1970s.