Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Mary Han, Vanessa Ratten and Isabell M. Welpe
Hung-bin Ding and Hsi-mei Chung Introduction In the last three decades, the Taiwanese economy has moved quickly from labor-intensive activities to technological innovation and the ability to understand customers around the world. Much of Taiwan’s past success has been attributed to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the emergence of the ‘black-hand’ technicians (Wu and Huang, 2003). They are specialists of narrow tasks such as operating certain types of machines. These technician-entrepreneur ventures are the backbone of the post-war Taiwanese economy and the driving force of high economic growth in the 1970s and 1980s. A signature character of black-hand entrepreneurs is their strong sense of cost management and excellent manufacturing capability. Although many of these business ventures are profitable – some even grow to become large enterprises – very few such ventures develop capabilities in corporate research and development (R&D) and marketing. In the era of fast industrial growth, entrepreneurial successes of many black-hand entrepreneurs motivate more black-hands to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. However, the increasing importance of technology-intensive industries such as semiconductor and information technology (IT) in Taiwan, and the emergence of China and other low-cost economies in the 1980s, have brought significant challenges to the business model building on cost saving and manufacturing excellence. The Taiwanese government and entrepreneurs have made great efforts to build an enabling environment for entrepreneurship in the last 15 years. In this chapter, we review these recent developments, followed by a brief discussion on their impact on internationalization entrepreneurial activities. Government policy on SMEs...
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