Why China hasn’t produced a Steve Jobs yet

I recently retired as UK senior partner of BDO after 23 years as a partner with the firm. Last year, I took up a position as visiting professor at Xiamen University, China. My wife is Chinese and I decided to spend three months exploring business opportunities in the region and trying to learn some Mandarin.

I’m blogging about my experiences in China for Real Business – catch up on my journey so far. 

I’m sure the Western press has carried many column inches on Steve Jobs since his death; the Chinese press and public have been eulogising the man too. 

Professor Panos Mourdoukoutas of Long Island University has suggested that China does not have Schumpeterian-style entrepreneurs like Jobs because of the country’s “Confucian conformity to existing norms” and its history. He also sees Chinese business as “‘units’ within a central plan rather than ‘firms’, within a (consumer-centred)market economy”. 

I agree with those points and would add that it is currently handicapped by a preference for education which teaches by rote, and doesn’t encourage students to ask “why?” – which might otherwise develop their creativity (and possibly their political demands too).  

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