Small Business Economics

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 1001–1015 | Cite as

Entrepreneurial intention and regional internationalization in China

  • Julie Ann ElstonEmail author
  • Alois Weidinger


This study uses a novel approach to examine the link between regional internationalization and entrepreneurial intention in China. Robust findings suggest that higher degrees of internationalization in locations like Shenzhen and Hong Kong lead to lower levels of entrepreneurial intention, while lower degrees of internationalization in Mainland China lead to higher levels of entrepreneurial intention. This striking result underscores the significance of doing a regional-level analysis rather than countrywide studies for large diverse markets like China, where regional differences in internationalization policies, economic reforms, and institutions tend to vary significantly between locations compared to smaller or more developed economies. We conclude that the relatively higher levels of necessity-based entrepreneurship in China may help explain some of the regional differences observed in total entrepreneurial activity. Our findings also contribute to the literature by revealing significant complexity in the relationship between internationalization and entrepreneurship and support findings of previous studies regarding the importance of location for entrepreneurial intentions in emerging markets like China (as reported by Pan and Yang (Small Business Economics, 2018); Zhu, Lui, He, & Lu et al. (Small Business Economics, 2018b); and Liu et al. (Small Business Economics, 2018)).


Entrepreneurial intention Internationalization Location Region China 

JEL classification

L26 M13 O1 P25 R11 


  1. Ahlstrom, D., & Bruton, G. (2010). Rapid institutional shifts and the co-evolution of entrepreneurial firms in transition economies. Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, 34(3), 531.Google Scholar
  2. Armington, C., & Acs, Z. J. (2002). The determinants of regional difference in new firm formation. Regional Studies, 36(1), 33–45.Google Scholar
  3. Audretsch, D., & Feldman, M. (1996). R&D spillovers and the geography of innovation and production. American Economic Review, 86(3), 630–640.Google Scholar
  4. Audretsch, D. B., & Lehmann, E. E. (2005). Does the knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship hold for regions? Research Policy, 34(8), 1191–1202.Google Scholar
  5. Brush, C. G., & Chaganti, R. (1996). Cooperative strategies in non-high-tech new ventures: an exploratory study. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 21(2), 37–54.Google Scholar
  6. Buckley, P. J., & Pervez, N. G. (2004). Globalisation, economic geography and the strategy of multinational enterprises. Journal of International Business Studies, 35(2), 81–98.Google Scholar
  7. Coviello, N. E., & Munro, H. (1995). Growing the entrepreneurial firm: networking for international market development. European Journal of Marketing, 29, 49–61.Google Scholar
  8. Coviello, N. E., & Munro, H. (1997). Network relationships and the internationalization of process of small software firms. International Business Review, 6, 361–386.Google Scholar
  9. Deng, S., Xu, W., & Alon, I. (2011). Framework for female entrepreneurship in China. International Journal of Business and Emerging Markets, 3(1), 3–20.Google Scholar
  10. International Finance Corporation. (2007). Doing Business in China Report.Google Scholar
  11. International Finance Corporation. (2011). Doing Business in China Report: Making a difference for entrepreneurs.Google Scholar
  12. Elston, J. A., Chen, S., & Weidinger, A. (2016). The role of informal capital on new venture formation and growth in China. Small Business Economics. Scholar
  13. Elston, J. A., & Audretsch, D. B. (2011). Risk attitudes, wealth and sources of entrepreneurial start-up capital. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 76(1), 82–89.Google Scholar
  14. Fayolle, A., & Liñán, F. (2014). The future of research on entrepreneurial intentions. Journal of Business Research, 67(5), 663–666.Google Scholar
  15. Fernhaber, S., Gilbret, B., & McDougall, P. (2008). International entrepreneurship and geographic location: an empirical examination of new venture internationalization. Journal of International Business Studies, 39, 267–290.Google Scholar
  16. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). (2003). Hong Kong and Shenzhen.Google Scholar
  17. Hayton, J. C., George, G., & Zahra, S. A. (2002). National culture and entrepreneurship: a review of behavioral research. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 26(4), 33–52.Google Scholar
  18. He, C., Lu, J., & Qian, H. (2018). Entrepreneurship in China. Small Business Economics, 1–10. Google Scholar
  19. Holt, D. H. (1997). A comparative study of values among Chinese and U.S. entrepreneurs: pragmatic convergence between contrasting cultures. Journal of Business Venturing, 12(6), 483–505.Google Scholar
  20. Huang, Y. (2008). Capitalism with Chinese characteristics: Entrepreneurship and the state. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Krueger Jr., N. F., Reilly, M. D., & Carsrud, A. L. (2000). Competing Models of Entrepreneurial Intention. Journal of Business Venturing, 15, 411–432. Scholar
  22. Lau, C. M., & Busenitz, L. W. (2001). Growth intentions of entrepreneurs in a transitional economy: the People’s Republic of China. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 26(1), 5–20.Google Scholar
  23. Liñán, F., & Chen, Y. W. (2009). Development and cross-cultural application of a specific instrument to measure entrepreneurial intentions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 33(3), 593–617.Google Scholar
  24. Liñán, F., Fernández-Serrano, J., & Romero, I. (2013). Necessity and opportunity entrepreneurship: the mediating effect of culture. Revista de Economía Mundial, 3321–47.Google Scholar
  25. Lingelbach, D.C., De La Vina, L. and Asel, P. (2005) What’s distinctive about growth-oriented entrepreneurship in developing countries? (March 2005). UTSA College of business Center for Global Entrepreneurship Working Paper no. 1. Available at SSRN:
  26. Liu, Z., Wu, H., & Wu, J. (2018). Location-based tax incentives and entrepreneurial activities: evidence from Western regional development strategy in China. Small Business Economics. Scholar
  27. Logan, J. (2002). The new Chinese City. Boston: Blackwell Publishers Inc..Google Scholar
  28. Logan, J. (2008). Urban China in transition. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  29. McDougall, P., & Oviatt, B. M. (1994). Explaining the formation of international new ventures: limits of theories from international business research. Journal of Business Venturing, 9, 469–487.Google Scholar
  30. McGrath, R. G., MacMillan, I. C., & Scheinberg, S. (1992). Elitists, risk-takers, and rugged individualists? An exploratory analysis of cultural differences between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs. Journal of Business Venturing, 7(2), 115–135.Google Scholar
  31. Minniti, M., & Bygrave, W. (1999). The micro-foundations of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 23(4), 41–52.Google Scholar
  32. Morgan, K., & Cooke, P. (1998). The associational economy: firms, regions, and innovation. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership Historical Research Reference in Entrepreneurship.
  33. O’Farrell, P. N., Wood, P. A. and Zheng, J. (1998) Regional influences on foreign market development by business service companies: elements of a strategic context explanation, Regional Studies 32, 31–48.Google Scholar
  34. Oviatt, B. M., & McDougall, P. (2005). Defining international entrepreneurship and modeling the speed of internationalization. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 537–553. Google Scholar
  35. Pan, F., & Yang, B. (2018). Financial development and the geographies of startup cities: evidence from China. Small Business Economics. Scholar
  36. Parker, S. C. (2004). The economics of self-employment and entrepreneurship. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Requena-Silvente, F. (2005). The decision to enter and exit foreign markets: evidence from UK SMEs. Small Business Economics, 25, 237–253.Google Scholar
  38. Reynolds, P.D., Hay, M. & Camp, S.M. (1999). Global entrepreneurship monitor, 10.Google Scholar
  39. Santos Cumplido, F. J., Liñán, F., & y Fernández-Serrano, J. (2009). Cognitive aspects of potential entrepreneurs in southern and northern Europe: an analysis using gem-data. Revista de Economía Mundial, 23, 151–178.Google Scholar
  40. Schade, C., Köllinger, P., & Minniti, M. (2007). I think I can I think I can: overconfidence in entrepreneurial behavior. Journal of Economic Psychology, 28, 502–527.Google Scholar
  41. Su, J., Zhai, Q., & Landström, H. (2015). Entrepreneurship research in China: internationalization or contextualization. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 27(1–2), 50–79.Google Scholar
  42. Tan, J. (2002). Culture, nation, and entrepreneurial strategic orientations: implications for an emerging economy. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 26(4), 95–111.Google Scholar
  43. Tang, Y. K. (2011). The influence of networking on internationalization of SMEs: evidence from internationalized Chinese firms. International Small Business Journal, 29(4), 374–398.Google Scholar
  44. Wagner, J. (2005). Nascent necessity and opportunity entrepreneurs in Germany evidence from the regional entrepreneurship monitor (REM). Document de Travail, 10, 1–24.Google Scholar
  45. Weber, E., & Hsee, C. (1998). Cross-cultural differences in risk perception, but cross-cultural similarities in attitudes towards perceived risk. Management Science, 44(9), 1205–1217.Google Scholar
  46. World Bank. (2008). Doing business 2008 : making a difference for entrepreneurs (English). Doing business 2008. Washington DC : World Bank Group. Accessed 5 July 2015
  47. World Bank. 2010 Doing business 2011 : making a difference for entrepreneurs (English). Doing business 2011. Washington DC : World Bank Group. Accessed 17 May 2016
  48. Wright, M., Westhead, P., Ucbasaran, D. (2007). The internationalization of SMEs and international entrepreneurship: a critique and policy implications. Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 41(07), 1013–1029. Scholar
  49. Xu, C. (2011). The fundamental institutions of China’s reforms and development. Journal of Economic Literature, 49(4), 1076–1151.Google Scholar
  50. Zhu, X., Liu, Y., He, M., & Luo, D. (2018a). Good neighbors, bad neighbors: local knowledge spillovers, regional institutions and firm performance in China. Small Business Economics. Scholar
  51. Zhu, X., Liu, Y., He, M., Luo, D., & Wu, Y. (2018b). Entrepreneurship and industrial clusters: evidence from China industrial census. Small Business Economics Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oregon State UniversityBendUSA
  2. 2.American University of AfghanistanKabulAfghanistan

Personalised recommendations