Research on Chinese family businesses: Perspectives

Xin Chun Li, Ling Chen, Jess H. Chua, Bradley L. Kirkman, Sara Rynes-Weller, Luis Gomez-Mejia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


This introduction traces the disappearance of Chinese family businesses from 1949 to 1978, their revival since then, and their future challenges. It then summarizes the three papers included in this Special Issue and proposes an agenda for family business studies in China. The article first focuses on the nonmarket social and political network strategies that these family-centered business organizations have had to adopt in order to overcome the difficulties they faced in accessing opportunities and resources as a result of Chinese culture's traditional low esteem for merchants and the government's continuing preference for a state-dominated economy. Family firms have so far been able to grow disproportionately rapidly in China's economy because, by leveraging the shared interests and dedication of immediate and extended family members, they have been able to achieve lower cost and higher efficiency, respond quickly to market changes, and expand social and political networks. These nonmarket strategies, however, also have a dark side. Furthermore, as the liberalization of China's economy deepens, competition must rely critically on market strategies such as innovation, alliances, and internationalization. The proposed research agenda addresses these future challenges as well as some research questions unique to Chinese family businesses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-597
Number of pages19
JournalManagement and Organization Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 20 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Agency
  • Charitable donations
  • China
  • Family business
  • Internationalization
  • Nonmarket strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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