Encountering Chinese Networks
Western, Japanese, and Chinese Corporations in China, 1880-1937
By (author) Sherman Cochran
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Encountering Chinese Networks by Sherman Cochran
Book DescriptionBig businesses have faced a persistent dilemma in China since the nineteenth century: how to retain control over corporate hierarchies while adapting to local social networks. Sherman Cochran, in the first study to compare Western, Japanese, and Chinese businesses in Chinese history, shows how various businesses have struggled with this issue as they have adjusted to dramatic changes in Chinese society, politics, and foreign affairs. Cochran devotes a chapter each to six of the biggest business ventures in China before the Communist revolution: two Western-owned companies, Standard Oil and British-American Tobacco Company; two Japanese-owned companies, Mitsui Trading Company and Naigai Cotton Company; and two Chinese-owned firms, Shenxin Cotton Mills and China Match Company. In each case, he notes the businesses' efforts to introduce corporate hierarchies for managing the distribution of goods and the organization of factory workers, and he describes their encounters with a variety of Chinese social networks: tenacious factions of English-speaking compradors and powerful trade associations of non-English-speaking merchants channeling goods into the marketplace; and small cliques of independent labor bosses and big gangs of underworld figures controlling workers in the factories. Drawing upon archival sources and individual interviews, Cochran describes the wide range of approaches that these businesses adopted to deal with Chinese social networks. Each business negotiated its own distinctive relationship with local networks, and as each business learned about marketing goods and managing factory workers in China, it adjusted this relationship. Sometimes it strengthened its hierarchical control over networks and sometimes it delegated authority to networks, but it could not afford to take networks for granted or regard them as static because they, in turn, took their own initiative and made their own adjustments. In this book Cochran calls into question the idea that the spread of capitalism has caused business organizations to converge over time. His cases bring to light numerous organizational forms used by Western, Japanese, and Chinese corporations in China's past, and his conclusions suggest that businesses have experimented with new forms on the basis of their historical experiences--especially their encounters with social networks.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780520216259
(229mm x 152mm x 25mm)
Imprint: University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
Publish Date: 25-Aug-2000
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Sherman Cochran
Lius of Shanghai, Hardback (April 2013)
From the Sino-Japanese War to the Communist Revolution, a cache of letters from one of China's prominent families, the Lius of Shanghai, sheds light on a tumultuous era. Sherman Cochran and Andrew Hsieh show how the family confronted war, civil unrest, and social upheaval, and how--in the midst of it all--they built a vast business empire.
Chinese Medicine Men, Hardback (May 2006)» View all books by Sherman Cochran
Reconsiders the nature and role of consumer culture in the spread of cultural globalisation. This title moves beyond traditional debates over Western influence on non-Western cultures to examine the points where Chinese entrepreneurs and Chinese-owned businesses interacted with consumers.
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Author Biography - Sherman Cochran
Sherman Cochran is Professor of History at Cornell University. He has written Big Business in China (1980) and has co-authored (with Andrew C.K. Hsieh and Janis Cochran) One Day in China (1983).
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