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UCLA Asia Pacific Center Hosts Virtual International Symposium on Research on Taishang (Taiwanese Business)

UCLA Asia Pacific Center Hosts Virtual International Symposium on Research on Taishang (Taiwanese Business)

With support from the Ministry of Education for UCLA’s Taiwan Studies Lectureship (TSL) program, the Asia Pacific Center hosted a two-day international symposium on Global Chinese Entrepreneurship on November 20–21, 2020. It was co-sponsored by the Center for Global Management at UCLA Anderson School of Management, and the Contemporary China Research Cluster at the University of Hong Kong. 

The symposium, organized by APC director Min Zhou—Professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies and Walter and Shirley Wang Endowed Chair in US-China Relations and Communications—was originally planned as the TSL annual conference to be held at UCLA in spring 2020, but it was rescheduled to a virtual format because of the pandemic. A positive effect was that over 165 scholars, students, and members of the public around the globe were therefore able to take part, and the four panel sessions were all scheduled to facilitate participation from Asia and Europe. 

The program featured a keynote speech by Dr. Wu Jieh-min, Research Fellow at the Sociology Institute at Academia Sinica, and 31 participants from Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China, Europe, Oceania, and the United States gave presentations on their research. 
Dr. Wu launched the symposium with a presentation on Taishang, China, and Global Value Chains, drawn from his 2019 book, Rent-Seeking Developmental State in China (National Taiwan University Press). This retells the story of China’s economic success from the perspective of Taishang (Taiwanese businesspeople) and explains the connections between China and global capitalism. 

Panel 1, moderated by Yong Chen, Professor of History at UC Irvine, presented papers that further elucidated patterns of Taishang and other overseas Chinese entrepreneurs in relation to China’s global economic development. These included “Taishang-Style Enterprises: The Taiwan Factor in the Emergence of Chinese Private Enterprises in the Pearl River Delta, China,” by Prof. Cheng Chih-peng, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan. 

Panel 2, moderated by Sherry Wu, Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations & Behavioral Decision Making at UCLA, focused on the practices and ideologies of entrepreneurs themselves. The papers included “‘I Sell Therefore I Exist’: Markets' Contestation, Digital Labor, and Emotional Petit Capitalism of Chinese Migrant Women in Taiwan” by Dr. Beatrice Zani, Sciences Po Lyon, France, and “Cultural Rationales for Becoming an Entrepreneur: An Ethnographical Approach to the Entrepreneurial Motivations of Chinese Newcomers in Tokyo”
by Bin Li from Free University Berlin in Germany. 

Panel 3, moderated by Jay Chok, Associate Professor of Management at Keck Graduate Institute, Claremont Colleges, presented case studies of Taishang and other Chinese overseas entrepreneurs around the world. These included Privileged Migration and Middle Minority: Comparing Taishang in Dongguan and Jakarta, a paper by Prof. Ping Lin, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan. 

Panel 4, moderated by Tak-Jun Wong, Joseph A. DeBell Professor of Business Administration and Accounting, University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, focused on women and family in the context of global Chinese entrepreneurship. The papers included “Entrepreneurial Masculinity and Disjunctive Intimacy: Taiwanese Businessmen and Their Families across the Taiwan Strait” - presented by Prof. Shen Hsiu-Hua from National Tsing Hua University, and “Transgenerational Intent of Taiwanese Business Families: Immigrant Context as Exposure to Country Differences in Family Logic” - by Stone Han and Chung Hsi-Mei from I-Shou University in Taiwan, and Artemis Chang from Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

The full conference program and a recording of Dr. Wu’s keynote presentation can be viewed at Two special journal issues drawn from the conference presentations will be published. A special issue of the Journal of Chinese Overseas on “Immigrant Entrepreneurship in the Contemporary Era of Globalization: Gender, Family, and Divergent Patterns” edited by Prof. Min Zhou is scheduled for December, 2021. And a special issue of the Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship on “Chinese Entrepreneurship in a Globalized World: Culture, Place, and Mobilities” co-edited by Prof. Zhou and Prof. Howard Lin from Ryerson University is scheduled for February, 2022.

The UCLA Asia Pacific Center is currently home to the UCLA Taiwan Studies Program and it manages several Taiwan studies partnerships that facilitate exchanges between students and scholars at UCLA and in Taiwan.