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Traditional Religions and Christianity and Chinese Entrepreneurship——A Case Study of the Private Entrepreneur Communities in Fuzhou and Quanzhou Cities in Fujian Province

GAN Mantang

Associate Professor, Sociology, Fuzhou University



At present,many problems in China's market economy have aroused people’s concerns about the social responsibility of entrepreneurs. Does religion help to promote the social responsibility of entrepreneurs? Foreign researchers have reached positive conclusions on the relationship between Christianity and entrepreneurship. And how does this question relate to the non-exclusive Chinese traditional religions, which here mean Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and community temple worship, as well as ancestor worship in folk beliefs. Max Weber held a negative viewpoint on the relationship between Taoism and Confucianism with capitalism. But as time has passed, contemporary capitalist economies of East Asian countries have shown great success. What is the status quo of Chinese entrepreneurs’ religious beliefs when China’s economy stands out globally? This project aims to find out whether such religious beliefs help to foster entrepreneurship.

Under the guidance of religious sociology theory, the project takes the entrepreneur community in Southeast China as a case in point and targets the impact of the religious beliefs of Chinese entrepreneurs on entrepreneurship. The stance is that most Chinese entrepreneurs have a religion complex, mainly harboring Chinese traditional beliefs, as well as non-other religions (Christianity, Catholicism, etc.). This study also seeks to identify the different social responsibilities between entrepreneurs of traditional religious beliefs and Christian entrepreneurs, thus validating the impacts of different religions or spirituality on entrepreneurs’ social responsibility.

The  hypotheses of the research are as follows: (1) traditional religious entrepreneurs are stronger than Christian entrepreneurs in the areas of innovation and risk-taking; (2) when it comes to integrity, the situation is the contrary; (3) however, the trust and responsibility tend to assume homelandism, which is based on kinship and proximity with a pattern of difference sequence, under which acquaintances can easily be trusted, while strangers can not.

The theme and analysis framework of this research: Do traditional religious beliefs help to promote entrepreneurship? Do different levels of religious beliefs lead to different levels of entrepreneurship? Traditional religious beliefs will be taken as the independent variable, and entrepreneurship as the dependent variable. Under the guidance of religious sociology theory, the research gathers data empirically and analyzes them quantitatively as well as qualitatively in an effort to explore the impact of religious beliefs on entrepreneurship. Two cities --- Quanzhou, Fuzhou, where the private economy is most developed in Fujian province, have been selected as the survey sites. Private entrepreneurs, the companies’ primary owners and managers, are singled out as the subject. There are two questionnaires: one surveys the religious beliefs of 200 entrepreneurs (30 Christian entrepreneurs and 170 non-Christian entrepreneurs). A quota sampling is employed, mainly based on the findings from a survey of Chinese religious beliefs carried out by the Chinese Religious and Social Research Center, Purdue University, including 30 copies of in-depth questionnaire. The second questionnaire surveys 400 employees working in the surveyed entrepreneurs’ companies in order to find out how the employees evaluate their employers.

Two theses and one research report will be completed during the funded time. The theses are “Traditional Religious Culture and Entrepreneurship in Southern Fujian” and “A Comparative Study on the Effects of Two Types of Spirituality on Entrepreneur Social Responsibility.” The research report is entitled, “Traditional Religious Culture and Chinese Entrepreneurship."

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