Jumping Into the Sea: From Academics to Entrepreneurs in South China
Why and how did a group of Chinese scholars give up secure state jobs to start their own business? In this rare oral history, we follow the compelling story of three academics in a southern Chinese university who threw away their iron rice bowl to launch a private electronics company. Within the context of China's recent socioeconomic reform, Xiuwu Liu explores the political, economic, legal, social, and technological aspects of founding a private enterprise by telling the story of one such firm from its remote beginnings through to its successful operation. Xiuwu Liu follows the travails and triumphs of the firm's founders from their early attempts to contract with the university's own factory to their breakaway to found their own company. He traces the company's daily operation and growth in fascinating detail. What emerges is a very human, and at times heroic, account of individuals standing up to the powerful bureaucrats who determine individual destiny in contemporary China. It is a glimpse into the labyrinth of jealousies and friendships that exist in a work unit, a dimension of China that foreigners rarely see. As the only in-depth case study available of the development of a private, completely Chinese company, this work illuminates contemporary Chinese society as well as the resurgence of private enterprise.
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