La classe moyenne du Royaume du Milieu

HONG KONGPourquoi la Chine a-t-elle si bien réussi en l’espace de juste trente ans depuis le lancement des réformes économiques de Deng Xiaoping ? Les raisons généralement avancées font état d’extraordinaires facteurs démographiques, géographiques et globalement culturels de la Chine. Ce qui est moins bien compris est que la Chine doit aussi son succès à ses entrepreneurs – et à leurs modèles d’activité profondément spécifiques.

Il y a deux aspects clé dans l’esprit d’entreprise chinois. Les hommes d’affaires chinois prospères ont traditionnellement mis l’accent sur la confiance et le sens des responsabilités pour remplir leurs engagements (xinyong), le développement progressif de liens amicaux (ganqing) avec les clients et les fournisseurs, et la capacité à bâtir des réseaux relationnels (guanxi) qui sont souvent fondés sur une origine ou une affinité communes. Ils insistaient aussi sur la nécessité d’être audacieux, sobre et ambitieux, ainsi que sur la capacité à s’adapter aux évolutions des conditions du marché.

Certaines de ces caractéristiques sont plus fortement culturellement spécifiques que ne le laisse supposer la description de l’esprit d’entreprise comme processus de « destruction créatrice » proposée par Joseph Schumpeter. Mais l’audace et l’adaptabilité s’accordent avec les notions mises en avant par Schumpeter de développement de nouvelles combinaisons et de la nécessité de se renouveler. Les activités traditionnelles comme par exemple le textile de gros, la banque ou les mines de sel ont élaboré des schémas de partage des profits entre les propriétaires, les partenaires et les employés au fil de leur développement dans le temps ou dans le cadre de chaines de points de vente à travers le pays.  

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