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Special Issue on ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation in China: A Global Perspective’

Special issue call for papers from Multinational Business Review

Guest Editors:

David Ahlstrom, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Liang Wang, University of San Francisco
Xiaohua Yang, University of San Francisco
Changqi Wu, Peking University

Submission Deadline: August 15, 2017

Prospective authors are strongly encouraged to participate and present their papers in progress in the “China Innovation & Global Integration” conference in Beijing, China, May 17-19, 2017 (, and receive critical feedback from the editorial team and conference attendees.


In 2016, China reported a 6.7 percent GDP growth -- lowest in a quarter century. With the two traditional forces of China’s economic growth (low-cost labor force and heavy capital investment) losing steam, can China’s economic miracle be sustained? And if so, how?

Entrepreneurship and innovation are viewed as a key for China’s growth (Wang, Ahlstrom, Nair, & Hang, 2008). According to McKinsey, China needs innovation to generate a 2 to 3 percent increase in annual GDP in order to maintain a 5.5 to 6.5 percent increase in annual GDP for the next decade. This explains China’s recent initiative of promoting “Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation by All” (大众创业万众创新) as the national strategy for economic restructuring. China is witnessing an unprecedented wave of entrepreneurship and innovation activities, and the country’s venture capital funds totaled US$338 billion in 2016, the biggest in the world (Shen, 2016).

Further integration into the global economy is another key. Guided by the “Go Out Policy” (走出去), China's outbound foreign direct investment exceeded inbound foreign direct investment for the first time in 2014. According to the Rhodium Group, Chinese firms invested a record $15.7 billion in the USA in 2015, a 30% increase from last year, with privately owned Chinese companies comprising 84% of total investments. Additionally, China revealed its “One Belt One Road” (一带一路) strategy, which aims to integrate geographically connected countries in Eurasia and Africa by new or upgraded land and sea routes.

How will Chinese innovation and global integration change China and her trading partners? What are the opportunities and threats for organizations and entrepreneurs, both inside and outside China? How should governments, corporations, and global institutions respond to facilitate continuing economic growth in China? These are the questions that concern policymakers and business leaders today.

Special Issue Purpose and Potential Research Questions

As The Economist (2016) recently reported, “Companies that want a glimpse of the future of mobile commerce should look not just to Silicon Valley but also to the other side of the Pacific”. This prediction echo an optimistic view of China’s prospects in innovation (Lin, 2016; Yip & McKern, 2016). In contrast, the pessimistic view highlights the difficulties for China to transform itself into an “innovation society,” including an underdeveloped intellectual property system and increased global tension (Lewin, Kenney, & Murmann, 2016), and a number of management concerns (Wang et al., 2008).

We believe that an assessment of China’s future growth prospects, particularly with respect to innovation should consider both its further global integration and ongoing trends in the domain of entrepreneurship, innovation, and new venture creation. In particular, a global perspective is much needed for a better understanding of China’s innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly in a comparative international context. Is there a unique Chinese model of innovation and entrepreneurship, or are there characteristics observed in China but generally applicable to the other economies?

This special issue of Multinational Business Review (MBR) invites submissions that investigate the ongoing innovation and entrepreneurship trends in China, broadly defined, from a global perspective. We look for studies that could include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in China and beyond. How do entrepreneurial ecosystems (Nambisan & Baron, 2013; Spigel, 2015) take shape in China, with connections overseas? Where are the inchoate and regional innovation clusters in China and how do they emerge, evolve, and connect globally (Tan, 2006; Wang, 2017; Wang, Madhok, & Li, 2014; Wu & Wei, 2013)? How do people and organizations such as VCs, law firms, universities and research institutes interact with each other in shaping an entrepreneurial ecosystem (Lerner, 2009)? Is this unique to China? What are the roles played by government policies at the national, provincial and local levels in China, and how do these compare with other countries?
  • Cross-border entrepreneurship and innovation. How do people and organizations in traditional entrepreneurial centers like Silicon Valley participate in building China’s entrepreneurial ecosystems, and vice versa? How do Chinese entrepreneurial ecosystems connect to, interact with and contribute to the existing global entrepreneurial ecosystem? How do Chinese VCs and angel funds go global for ideas, technologies and opportunities?
  • Two-way traffic innovation. What are the roles played by MNEs in China innovation and entrepreneurship (Collinson & Narula, 2014; Li, Chen, & Shapiro, 2010; Li, Shapiro, & Chen, 2013)? How do Chinese tech giants and/or startups create and commercialize innovative and entrepreneurial ideas at a global scale? How do knowledge transfer and reverse knowledge transfer function between Chinese multinationals and the host countries and between parent firms and overseas subsidiaries (Peng, Qin, Chen, Cannice, & Yang, 2016)? How does strategic asset FDI in advanced host countries enable innovation in home countries (Deng, Yang, Wang and Doyle, 2017)?
  • Characteristics of Chinese entrepreneurs inside and outside of China. Who are the entrepreneurs in China today (Ahlstrom & Ding, 2014)? What are the challenges and opportunities facing them, financially, socially and culturally? How do they respond? What are the processes through which they succeed or fail in creating their new ventures? What is the role of the Chinese diaspora in facilitating the emergence of Chinese entrepreneurs?
  • Business model innovation in China with global inputs and impacts (Guo, Su, & Ahlstrom, 2016). How do China’s tech giants and/or startups create successful business model innovation, especially in the mobile ecommerce sector where business models made-in-China are now being copied by Silicon Valley behemoths? Is there any conceptually distinct archetypes of business model innovation in China?
  • Innovation strategy with global inputs. How do Chinese firms utilize global resources to develop innovation capacity and shift from technology imitation to innovation (Dodgson, 2009)? What is the dynamic relationship between firm innovation strategy and the institutional environment in China? Do institutions enable or retard firm innovation strategy (Carney, Gedajlovic, &Yang, 2009)? How do entrepreneurial and innovative Chinese firms create firm specific advantages by leveraging country specific advantages in domestic and host countries (Yang, Yang, & Doyle, 2013)?
  • Intellectual property system and institutionalized trust. What does China do to create an intellectual property system that encourages and rewards innovation and entrepreneurship (Lewin, Kenney, & Murmann, 2016), and frame-breaking innovation in particular (Liou, Kwan & Chiu, 2016)? How effective is the Chinese intellectual property system comparing to the best practices in the world? How does the Chinese ecosystem perform in terms of cultivating institutionalized trust, free flows of information, and a culture for innovators and entrepreneurs to disrupt the status quo?

Papers for the special issue should be submitted electronically to MBR Online Submission System at, and identified as submissions to the ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation in China: A Global Perspective’ special issue.

Questions about the special issue should be directed to Professor Liang Wang at [email protected].


Ahlstrom, D., & Ding, Z. 2014. Entrepreneurship in China: An overview. International Small Business Journal, 32(6): 610-618.
Carney, M., Gedajlovic, E. and Yang, X., 2009. Varieties of Asian capitalism: Toward an institutional theory of Asian enterprise. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 26 (3): 361-380.
Collinson, S. C., & Narula, R. 2014. Asset recombination in international partnerships as a source of improved innovation capabilities in China. Multinational Business Review, 22(4): 394-417.
Deng, P, Yang, X., Wang, L., & Doyle, B. 2017. Chinese Investment in Advanced Economies: Opportunities and Challenges, Thunderbird International Business Review, forthcoming.
Dodgson, M. 2009. Asia’s national innovation systems: Institutional adaptability and rigidity in the face of global innovation challenges. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 26 (3): 589-609.
Guo, H., Su, Z., & Ahlstrom, D. 2016. Business model innovation: The effects of exploratory orientation, opportunity recognition, and entrepreneurial bricolage in an emerging economy. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 33(2): 533-549.
Lerner, J. 2009. Boulevard of broken dreams: Why public efforts to boost entrepreneurship and venture capital have failed - and what to do about it. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Lewin, A. Y., Kenney, M., & Murmann, J. P. 2016. China's Innovation Challenge: Overcoming the Middle-Income Trap. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Li, J., Chen, D., & Shapiro, D. M. 2010. Product innovations in emerging economies: The role of foreign knowledge access channels and internal efforts in Chinese firms. Management and Organization Review, 6(2): 243-266.
Li, J., Shapiro, D. M., & Chen, D. 2013. FDI spillovers at the national and subnational level: The impact on product innovation by Chinese firms. Management and Organization Review, 9(3): 413-435.
Lin, J. Y. 2016. New structural economics: The future of the Chinese economy. In A. Y. Lewin, M. Kenney, & J. P. Murmann (Eds.), China's Innovation Challenge: Overcoming the Middle-Income Trap: 32-55. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Liou, S., Kwan, L. Y.-Y., & Chiu, C.-Y. 2016. Historical and cultural obstacles to frame-breaking innovations in China. Management & Organization Review, 12(1): 35.
Nambisan, S., & Baron, R. A. 2013. Entrepreneurship in Innovation Ecosystems: Entrepreneurs' Self‐Regulatory Processes and Their Implications for New Venture Success. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 37(5), 1071-1097.
Peng, Z., Qin, C., Chen, R. R., Cannice, M. V., & Yang, X. 2016. Towards a Framework of Reverse Knowledge Transfer by Emerging Economy Multinationals: Evidence from Chinese MNE Subsidiaries in the United States. Thunderbird International Business Review.
Shen, L. 2016. China Is The Biggest Venture Capital Firm In the World. Fortune, March 9.
Spigel, B. 2015. The Relational Organization of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, early view.
The Economist. 2016. China’s tech trailblazers. August 6.
Tan, J. 2006. Growth of industry clusters and innovation: Lessons from Beijing Zhongguancun Science Park. Journal of Business Venturing, 21(6), 827-850.
Wang, L. 2017. Time and space in business: Dynamic geographic concentration and localized industry life cycle. Journal of Strategy and Management, forthcoming
Wang, L. C., Ahlstrom, D., Nair, A., & Hang, R. Z. 2008. Creating globally competitive and innovative products: China's next Olympic challenge. SAM Advanced Management Journal, 73(3), 4-15.
Wang, L., Madhok, A., & Li, S. X. 2014. Agglomeration and clustering over the industry life cycle: Toward a dynamic model of geographic concentration. Strategic Management Journal, 35(7), 995-1012.
Wu, A., & Wei, J. 2013. Effects of geographic search on product innovation in industrial cluster firms in China. Management & Organization Review, 9(3): 465-487.
Yang, Y., Yang, X. and W. Doyle, B., 2013. The location strategy and firm value creation of Chinese multinationals. Multinational Business Review, 21(3), pp.232-256.
Yip, G. S., & McKern, B. 2016. China's Next Strategic Advantage: From Imitation to Innovation. Boston, MA: MIT Press.