Political connection and disconnection: Still a success factor for Chinese Entrepreneurs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Political connection in China is often tested for correlation with business success and government support under a suspicion that connected entrepreneurs enjoy special favors and protection. Research evidence is mixed. In revisiting the debate on political capital in China, we apply a socially embedded perspective on political connection. To this end we introduce two methodological innovations: (a) We develop a broader measure of political connectedness that covers the continuum from political connection to disconnection. (b) We integrate data on political connection with social network data. Specifically, we explore how the social structure around the individual entrepreneur affects performance above and beyond the often tested association between political ties and performance. We draw two conclusions: (1) The success association with political connection is discontinuous. Advantage is less for entrepreneurs weakly connected politically, but significant additional disadvantage arises for the politically disconnected. (2) The additional is that entrepreneurs disconnected from government show no benefit from having an advantaged business network. The politically connected with an advantaged business network show more prosperous business, higher returns on assets, and more likely survival over time. The politically disconnected show none of these benefits. We caution the entrepreneur who plans to ignore the government.


External organisations
  • University of Chicago
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economics
  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


  • networks, social capital, specialty areas, political, China
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalEntrepreneurship Theory and Practice
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020 Jan 7
Publication categoryResearch