Entrepreneurial styles: Is there a difference between Filipinos and Chinese?
Approximately 3 percent of the Philippine population comprises overseas Chinese, who own half of local companies and control 70 percent of the local economy (Po, 2010).
Just as the Chinese and Filipinos use different languages, research shows that they also have different entrepreneurial styles.
Will this difference widen or narrow the “Great Wall” between entrepreneurs of these two nationalities?
According to renowned economist Joseph Schumpeter, an entrepreneur is someone who carries out functions that introduce a new good, method of production, market; conquers a new supply source; and shapes new forms of organizations such as monopolies. Management guru Peter Drucker, on the other hand, said that entrepreneurs search for change, respond to it, and exploit it as an opportunity.
To describe an entrepreneur, Dr. Gloria Chavez (2000) came up with four entrepreneurial styles based on a combination of entrepreneurial characteristics, leadership style, and value orientation, namely entrepati (entrepreneurial, paternalistic and innovative), entrepera (entrepreneurial, personalistic, and achievement-oriented), entreperin (entrepreneurial, people-oriented, and innovative) and entreparis (entrepreneurial, paternalistic, and risk-taking).
It was found that entrepera is the predominant style for small to medium-scale enterprises in the Philippines.
On the other hand, overseas Chinese (here used as a collective term for all people with Chinese descent and living in the Philippines) were described to possess the same characteristics but are distinctly diligent, hardworking and conscientious. Moreover, they draw on connections (“guanxi”) and give utmost importance to trust (“xinyong”).
In addition, overseas Chinese entrepreneurs operate in simple organizational structures with tight family control and minimal outside financing. There is a feeling of disappointment and of loss of Chinese business practices when younger generations no longer find them significant and seek outside resources.
This is similar to the notion of marrying non-Chinese, which will eventually result in that person losing his or her Chinese identity.
To study more closely the differences between the overseas Chinese and Filipinos, a multicase study was conducted by Gerley Po of De La Salle University to examine the cross-generational and cross-cultural entrepreneurial styles of the second-, third- and fourth-generation entrepreneurs in the Philippines.
The results show that both groups are achievement-oriented and adopt the “participative/negotiative” leadership style.
Interestingly, for the fourth-generation overseas Chinese, their value orientation is high on pakikisama, which is distinctly Filipino.
The findings validated the predominant Filipino entrepreneurial style as entrepera but none of the styles, only aspects of it, fits those of the overseas Chinese.
This indicates that although the overseas Chinese have assimilated certain Filipino values, they are still able to maintain essential Chinese values when doing business.
It is apparent that the two groups adopt different entrepreneurial styles even when operating business in the same country. However, it can be seen that as the economy is starting to globalize, there is a need to cope with new and valuable business styles but at the same time, retain and take advantage of learnings and values from one’s cultural roots.
So will the “Great Wall” be broken down eventually?
We’ll never know but it is a challenge to the younger generations to discover new paths to business success.
(Anny Tien is an undergraduate student taking up BS Psychology in Ateneo de Manila University, and was also an intern at the Ateneo CORD in the summer of 2012. This article was based on a multi-case study conducted by Gerley Q. Po from De La Salle University that was published in the DLSU Business & Economics Review in 2010.)