Graduate Entrepreneurs in Urban China: The Impact of Changing Institutional Environment on the Role of Social Networks

Date: June 3, 2021 (Thursday)

Time: 15:00-16:00 (Hong Kong Time)

Format: Zoom

Chair & Discussant:

Dr Mengyang LI

Southern University of Science and Technology

Presenter: Dr Yuyang KANG

Lingnan University

About the Chair & Discussant

Dr Mengyang LI is a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Higher Education Research, Southern University of Science and Technology. She obtained her PhD from the Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong. Her main research interests include international scholarly relations, internationalization of humanities and social sciences, international higher education, and general education in higher education.

About the Presenter

Dr Yuyang KANG is Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, Lingnan University, Hong Kong. Her research interests include higher education management, youth development, internationalization of higher education in general. Her current research projects focus on higher education development in the Great Bay Area of China, and employment outcomes of Chinese university graduates.


Extended research has shown the significance of social networks in influencing entrepreneurship in China. However, much less is known about how rapid urbanisation and internationalisation have influenced the changing role of different social networks in the younger generation. This article draws on initial fieldwork conducted in Shenzhen to discuss the traditional and transitional elements in young graduate entrepreneurs' familial and professional ties. It examines in detail the changing role of family and pseudo-family networks and identifies a new type of professional network in Shenzhen, termed ‘giant company old boy’s society’ by the author. This type of network originates from professional networks in one's previous employment experiences which later transform into ties ascribed by people's identity as members of a specific community with characteristics of Chinese guanxi and strong ties. This article argues social networks serve as a substitute to unstable institutional support in urban China. This article concludes by discussing the changing nature of guanxi and social networks in urban China and its implication to entrepreneurship development in countries with rapidly changing social context.