On Being "Chinese Overseas": The Case of Chinese Indonesian Entrepreneurs

Juliette Koning

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Two things characterize the ethnic Chinese overseas: their subjection to discrimination and their over-representation (relative to the local people in the place of destination) in self-employment and entrepreneurship (Chan Kwok-bun 2004:xiii). Much has been written on ethnic Chinese firms in Southeast Asia. A major part of the scholarly attention has gone into trying to understand and explain business success. As such the debate has for a long time, in a rather dichotomizing way, been divided into capitalist (profit maximisation) and cultural (personal relationship) explanations as the main drivers for this so-called success. Since the late 1990s the debate has entered a new phase, sometimes referred to as the "revisionist mood‿ enhancing the deconstruction and de-mystification of ethic Chinese businesses. Interestingly enough the debate has been rather quiet on issues of identity and ethnic self-representation. This is where this paper tries to fill a gap. By focusing on the role and meaning of ethnicity and religion (as identity markers) in enterprise development, leadership and management styles, and decision-making and networking I hope to contribute to a better understanding of the significance of "being Chinese overseas‿ and "New-Born Christian‿ in entrepreneurial identity. Empirical case material on several new-born Christian ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs of small and medium sized companies in Indonesia shall be used to explore this delicate relationship. The overtly non-Christian socio-political domination and the contested citizenship position of ethnic Chinese in parts of the region shall be features of the necessary contextual discussion.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrderiksberg
PublisherAsia Research Centre. Copenhagen Business School
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes
SeriesCopenhagen Discussion Papers

Bibliographical note

Paper presented at the inaugural international workshop ‘ChinaWorld’ on 10-11 March 2006 at Asia Research Centre, Copenhagen Business School


  • Ethnic Chinese
  • Indonesia
  • Entrepreneurship
  • New order
  • Chineseness

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