The January issue of JMS features a really interesting piece by Andrew Smith and Miriam Kaminishi about the historical origins of the concept of the ‘Confucian entrepreneur’. As anyone who has taught on the basis of international business textbooks can attest, the way in which Confucianism in drawn upon to explain phenomena in China’s political economy is often quite odd and uncomfortable. Below is the reference and abstract. Happy reading!
Confucian Entrepreneurship: Towards a Genealogy of a Conceptual Tool
First published: 16 February 2019
The concept of the ‘Confucian Entrepreneur’ is now used by many scholars to understand entrepreneurship in China and other East Asian countries. This paper traces the development of this concept from its roots in the writings of nineteenth‐century Western authors to its use in modern management journals. We show that while this conceptual tool has been adapted over time, the claims associated with it have remained largely similar. Use of the term Confucian entrepreneur implies belief that Confucian ideas induce Chinese entrepreneurs to behave differently than their Western counterparts, a claim for which the empirical foundations are weak. We do not go so far as to say that those who research Chinese entrepreneurship should discard the concept of the Confucian entrepreneur simply because of its historical origins in colonialism. However, we do call on researchers to reflect on the historical origins of their conceptual tools. By historicising our theories of entrepreneurship, this paper should encourage greater scholarly reflexivity and thus the development of entrepreneurship and management theory with greater predictive power.