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    Huiyao Wang Globalizing China: The influence, Strategies and Successes of Chinese

    Returnee Entrepreneurs. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2012. 204 pp. ISBN

    978-1-78052-388-0, £ 59,95 (hbk)

    Reviewed by: Yijun Xing, Beijing Jiao Tong University, China, and Yipeng Liu,

    University of Kent, UK

    This book investigates an emerging phenomenon about returnee entrepreneurship

    (Cumming, Sapienza, Siegel, & Wright, 2009), with a focus on Chinese returnee

    entrepreneurs. It deals with a broad range of issues associated with this phenomenon

    addressing for instance, the returnee development trajectory, entrepreneurial strategies and

    key success factors of this important type of entrepreneur. This is discussed in the context of

    systematic research findings. As the Vice Chairman of Western Returned Scholars

    Association and founding director of Centre for China and Globalization in Beijing, Dr. Wang

    Huiyao shares his insightful findings, reflective thoughts, and life experience with a wide

    range of audience who are interested in Chinese entrepreneurship. Given the important role

    that context plays in entrepreneurship (Zahra & Wright, 2011) and the rising power of China

    in the global economy, this book offers a special angle to understanding Chinese

    entrepreneurs and their influences on China and the rest of the world. Being the change

    agent with an increasingly important role in contemporary China, returnee entrepreneurs

    and their entrepreneurial actions ought to have a significant impact on China and the rest of

    the world.

    This book consists of seven chapters. Chapter 1 provides a historical account of Chinese

    returnees and their roles in China’s development. The most recent trend is an accelerated

    number of Chinese returnees to the country propelled by the national talent strategy. One

    highlight is the Thousand Talents Program launched in 2010 that mainly targets returnees.

    Although returnees contribute to and shape China’s development directions across business,

    academia, and even the public sector, returnee entrepreneurs are the focus of this book.

    Chapter 2 lays out the theoretical background by reviewing literature from the domains of

    talent flow, strategy, and entrepreneurship. In addition, the extant research on

    contemporary returnee entrepreneurs has been thoroughly reviewed with specific reference

    to emerging economies. A mixed-method research design was elaborated upon by

    integrating a quantitative survey, in-depth case studies, archives, and participant

    observations. Chapter 3 depicts the returnee entrepreneurs’ profile based on a survey

    conducted in 2008 with a random sample of 146 returnees. The results reveal many

    interesting aspects of Chinese returnees, including their motivations, personal qualities and

    strategic factors for starting a business in China. In addition, the influence of these

    entrepreneurs on industry and society are articulated. For instance, returnee entrepreneurs

    make a significant contribution to the building process and growth of high tech industries

    (Kenney, Breznitz, & Murphree, 2013). Several challenges encountered by returnee

    entrepreneurs are also discussed, including political, social and even cultural challenges.

    As the main findings, Chapter 4 illustrates the different entrepreneurial strategies deployed

    by Chinese returnee entrepreneurs according to the Environment-Strategy-Performance

    framework (Tan & Litsschert, 1994). Collectively, based on cross-case analysis of 30 cases,

    the author identified three entrepreneurial strategy models, namely the market strategy

    model, the technology strategy model, and the networking strategy model depending upon

    the variations of market uncertainty. This chapter also contains in-depth analysis of five

    successful Chinese returnee entrepreneurs and their ventures to examine winning

    entrepreneurial strategies. The examination of internal as well as external environmental

    factors provides a detailed account of the challenges and benefits of each entrepreneur’s

    journey. Combining a quantitative survey and qualitative case studies, Chapter 6 offers a

    summary of ten key success factors for Chinese returnee entrepreneurs, highlighting the role

    of technology leadership, international network, overseas experience, teamwork and venture

    capitalists in facilitating returnee entrepreneurs to succeed. Chapter 7 summarises Chinese

    returnees’ impact in promoting indigenous innovation, bridging China and the world, and

    assisting Chinese firms in the “China Goes Global” endeavour. Theoretical and managerial

    implications for entrepreneurs and governments are discussed. The author warmly

    encourages future research to explore the exciting Chinese returnee phenomenon.

    Despite the authority of Dr. Wang Huiyao and his comprehensive analysis, several aspects

    related to returnee entrepreneurs are not explored in this book. First, given the

    transformational nature of institutions in emerging markets, entrepreneurs might be offered

    the opportunity to shape institutional development (Bruton, Ahlstrom, & Li, 2010). An

    institutional perspective might help to reveal the co-evolution of entrepreneurship and

    institutions. Second, this book merely focuses on returnee entrepreneurs. The domestic

    private entrepreneurs might adopt rather different strategies in building ventures, which in

    turn affects institutional development (Nee & Opper, 2012). Moreover, a comparative

    analysis of domestic and returnee entrepreneurs could potentially shed some new light on

    Chinese entrepreneurship (Li, Zhang, Li, Zhou, & Zhang, 2012). Importantly, the interaction

    of returnee entrepreneurs with local entrepreneurs and governments may offer microfoundational

    understanding to entrepreneurial strategy and institutional change process

    which awaits further scholarly investigation.

    We would like to highly recommend this book to both academics and practitioners. The

    detailed analysis and lively entrepreneurial stories provide a much needed picture for both

    scholars and managers who are interested in Chinese entrepreneurship. China’s

    entrepreneurship landscape is changing quickly and returnee entrepreneurs are

    instrumental in shaping China’s future development across multiple sectors. The South

    China Global Talent Institute, the newly founded think-tank in December 2012 under the

    leadership of Dr. Wang Huiyao, will focus on Chinese returnees and talent issues further

    strengthening interests from academic, business and public sectors. Dr. Wang and his team

    will engage with the unfolding process of Chinese talent strategy development and generate

    more interesting and revealing studies about Chinese returnee entrepreneurs in the future. It

    is worth studying and understanding this important topic, because Chinese returnees are

    shaping and will continuously shape modern China in the forthcoming years.


    Bruton, G. D., Ahlstrom, D., & Li, H. L. 2010. Institutional theory and entrepreneurship:

    Where are we now and where do we need to move in the future?

    Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 34(3): 421-440.

    Cumming, D., Sapienza, H. J., Siegel, D. S., & Wright, M. 2009. International

    entrepreneurship: managerial and policy implications. Strategic

    Entrepreneurship Journal, 3(4): 283-296.

    Kenney, M., Breznitz, D., & Murphree, M. 2013. Coming back home after the sun rises:

    Returnee entrepreneurs and growth of high tech industries. Research Policy, 42(2):


    Li, H., Zhang, Y., Li, Y., Zhou, L. A., & Zhang, W. 2012. Returnees Versus Locals: Who

    Perform Better in China’s Technology Entrepreneurship? Strategic

    Entrepreneurship Journal, 6(3): 257-272.

    Nee, V., & Opper, S. 2012. Capitalism from Below: Markets and Institutional

    Change in China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Tan, J., & Litsschert, R. J. 1994. Environment – strategy relationship and its performance

    implications: An empirical study of the chinese electronics industry. Strategic

    Management Journal, 15(1): 1-20.

    Zahra, S. A., & Wright, M. 2011. Entrepreneurship’s next act. The Academy of

    Management Perspectives, 25(4): 67-83.