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The changing face of China’s billionaire-entrepreneurs


  • Majid Ghorbani

    () (Renmin University of China)

  • Michael Carney

    (Concordia University)


Drawing upon data from the Forbes 2015 China Rich List this perspective paper describes the changing nature of entrepreneurial opportunity and capital accumulation in China’s transitional economy. The Forbes list identifies some 400 billionaires in 2015, and based upon their year of birth, we break down this list into three age cohorts, which reflect the shifting institutional environments and the set of opportunities they encountered in early adulthood. We identify the origins of their wealth and point to the growing number of wealthy heirs to the enterprises founded by their forebears and the implications for succession and the management of these enterprises. We compare and contrast China’s billionaires with comparable lists of billionaires in the United States. We provide insights into the fields of entrepreneurial opportunity, entrepreneurial finance, and the role of self-made versus inherited billionaires, as well as the implications for China’s industrial restructuring as the economy moves toward service and innovation-based industries. The paper concludes with a discussion of research opportunities afforded by the study of rich lists.

Suggested Citation

  • Majid Ghorbani & Michael Carney, 2016. "The changing face of China’s billionaire-entrepreneurs," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 881-902, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:asiapa:v:33:y:2016:i:4:d:10.1007_s10490-016-9472-1
    DOI: 10.1007/s10490-016-9472-1

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    Cited by:

    1. Carney, Michael & Zhao, Jing & Zhu, Limin, 2019. "Lean innovation: Family firm succession and patenting strategy in a dynamic institutional landscape," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 10(4).


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