nl en

Transnational Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia


Admission requirements

This course is part of the MA International Relations, track International Studies. Students of the MA Asian Studies are also welcome to participate. Students of other MA-programmes can contact the co-ordinator of studies.


In this course, we explore transnational entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia, zooming in on the role of the ethnic Chinese in the region. Ethnic Chinese from mainland China have migrated to and settled in Southeast Asia for centuries, and have come to dominate the various economies of the region. The course looks at the historical trajectories as well as the contemporary dynamics of ethnic Chinese entrepreneurship. We consider the transnational business networks that link entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia and ‘Greater China’ through family and ethnic ties, but also look into the manner in which entrepreneurs adapt to the national politico-economic regimes of Southeast Asia. We critically examine ‘the Chinese way’ of doing business by elaborating on notions of Chinese business culture (such as trust-based networking, family business, and state-business patronage) and similarities and differences that exist across Southeast Asia. We consider both the more established (e.g. Singapore and Malaysia) and developing (e.g. Cambodia and Myanmar) economies in the region, and both small enterprises and large business groups. In doing so, we investigate one of the driving forces of contemporary global capitalism in general, and of Asia’s economic rise in particular.

Course Objectives

  • Acquire understanding of and think critically about key debates and perspectives concerning ethnic Chinese entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia (as well as related concepts including transnationalism and ethnicity).

  • Assess the interrelatedness of the economic sphere and other spheres of life (including migration, family, ethnicity, and politics) through diverse case studies.

  • Comprehend and analyze academic literature pertaining to the themes discussed in the weekly seminars.

  • Formulate an original research question, write an essay and give an oral presentation corresponding the academic level on a subject of choosing.


Via the website.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • 24 Hours of classes

  • 120 hours of reading and other pre-assigned preparations

  • 30 hours to prepare presentation

  • 46 hours to prepare and complete the literature review and document analyses for the final essay

  • 60 hours to write the final essay

Total: 280 hours for 10 EC.

Assessment Method

  • 20% Seminar engagement (attendance, participation, pre-assigned preparations)

  • 10% Presentation

  • 70% Final essay on a well-defined topic related to the course (of about 5000 words)

Retake paper: there will be a retake of the final paper. The retake is only available to students whose mark of the final examined element is insufficient.


All required reading material will be available on Blackboard

Reading list

Core texts:

  • Folk, B. C., & Jomo, K. S. (2003). Ethnic Business: Chinese Capitalism in Southeast Asia. Routledge.

  • Yeung, H. W. C. (2004). Chinese capitalism in a global era: Towards a hybrid capitalism. Routledge.


Via uSis.

Contact information

M.J. Verver MA