Book Review: Chinese Entrepreneurship in Singapore

Authored by Clive Lim

Reading Chinese Entrepreneurship in Singapore: History, Faith & Culture provides a glimpse into the lives and mindsets of the selected entrepreneurs. These are men and women culturally rooted in Confucian teachings, yet who made choices shaped by their Christian beliefs. We are introduced to 12 entrepreneurs whose values have been moulded by their Chinese ancestry, families, and their relationship with God.

The book is split into two sections: the first half covers the history of both the Chinese and Christianity, and the second half picks up on 12 case studies representing modern Chinese entrepreneurs. The preceding section sets the stage for the latter in helping us understand the motivations of these modern-day Chinese entrepreneurs residing in Singapore, as influenced by their culture, beliefs and social systems.

I personally resonate with many aspects of the book. As a Singaporean Chinese, I am familiar with the ever-present expectation of having to succeed in life and the imbued need to work hard. There is nothing more noble, it seems, than slogging one’s way to the top and doing everything to maintain such a standing. The desire to succeed may not entirely come from parental expectations, though the significance of this cannot be denied, but a good Chinese son would view it as his duty to work hard, make his parents proud and provide for the family. This sense of responsibility almost justifies the need to sacrifice the less-pragmatic things in life — personal time, sleep and even the emotions of loved ones.

The 12 entrepreneurs faced similar pressures, and then some, as ethnic Chinese. Sacrificing personal time, working alongside family members in running the business, and extolling the virtue of hard work are themes that run throughout the lives of the majority of these entrepreneurs. At the same time, their Christian faith forces them to come face to face with the impact of their actions. Is it Christian to be generating so much wealth? Are they responsible for being a positive impact to society and the environment through their businesses? Such questions are explored in the interviews that the author conducts.

Ultimately, this book will be useful for providing Christian entrepreneurs some thought-provoking points to consider when running their businesses. It provides a third-party study of the pressures, worries and hopes that these entrepreneurs face and will prove useful for self reflection.

You can view a sample of Chinese Entrepreneurship in Singapore: History, Faith & Culture here.

This review is written by Ben Sim.

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