Entrepreneurship and the Internationalisation of Asian Firms
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Entrepreneurship and the Internationalisation of Asian Firms

An Institutional Perspective

Henry Wai-chung Yeung

This book applies an institutional perspective on transnational entrepreneurship to empirical investigations of transnational corporations (TNCs) from Hong Kong and Singapore. Henry Wai-chung Yeung argues that significant variations in institutional structures of home countries explain variations in the entrepreneurial endowments of prospective transnational business networks. This is illustrated by empirical data from two in-depth studies of over 300 TNCs from Hong Kong and Singapore and over 120 of their foreign affiliates in Asia.
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Chapter 4: Entrepreneurs in International Business

An Institutional Perspective

Henry Wai-chung Yeung


A strong bias among Asian companies – and a key strength – is entrepreneurship. This is fine when a company is small, but creates special challenges by the time you grow to become a trans-nationally organised corporation. The structure needs to evolve not into a large centralised bureaucracy but into a series of small, relatively independent, entrepreneurial profit centres. (Victor Fung, Chairman of Li & Fung, one of the largest trading companies in Hong Kong, 1997: 222; see also Magretta, 1998) INTRODUCTION It should be clear by now that the pre-existing configurations of institutional structures have important implications for transnational entrepreneurship through their impact on entrepreneurial endowments and resources. This chapter extends the theoretical discussion in Chapter 1 and employs the institutional perspective on transnational entrepreneurship to analyse international business activities by Asian entrepreneurs. In particular, I examine the transformations of domestic entrepreneurs from Singapore (and Hong Kong) into transnational entrepreneurs. My main argument is that these transnational entrepreneurs are well endowed with networking skills and capabilities that enable them to participate actively in cross-border business networks and transnational ventures. The institutional environment in Asia also favours the strategic formation and implementation of such networks. In other words, there are intense interactions between individual entrepreneurs and their embedded business systems. These business systems tend to structure and shape the repertoire of entrepreneurial endowments and resources enjoyed by transnational entrepreneurs (see Figure 1.1). This chapter therefore aims to show how transnational entrepreneurs from Singapore operate across borders to establish successful foreign ventures...

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