Accepted paper:

Ethnic Entrepreneurship and Community Responsibility


Bernard Wong (San Francisco State University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper compares and contrasts the Chinese American entrepreneurs in Chinatown with those in Silicon Valley's high-tech businesses. Their definitions of social responsibility and cultural-specific business practices will be examined.

Paper long abstract:

Using the concept of "moral economy" and the ISO International Standards Guidance (ISO 2600), the paper will compare the differences and similarities in the attitudes toward community responsibility and business operations among the Chinese American entrepreneurs who function in and outside of Chinatown. Data obtained from fieldwork indicate that entrepreneurial success/failure has much to do with the application of cultural values in economic activities. Further, entrepreneurs in different localities were guided by different definitions of social responsibility; business practices pertaining to maintenance and profit maximization were influenced by cultural values important to the larger society as well as the ethnic community. The concept of "moral economy", contrary to the claim of many, is not only applicable to pre-capitalist societies; it is relevant to the ethnic enterprises in America. Entrepreneurs, who pay attention to social justice and community welfare, as indicated in the data, do have results. Finally, the paper examines how Chinese employees use cultural-specific methods such as gossip, resistance, protest, resignation, slow-down and other cultural mechanisms to exact employers' compliance to standards for social justice.

panel PE19
Urban development, business operation and social responsibility (Social Responsibility) (IUAES Commission on Enterprise Anthropology)