Taiwanese Business Migrants in Malaysia: Translocal Networks and Entrepreneurship

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Ai-hsuan MA, National Chengchi University, Taiwan
Taiwanese investments in Malaysia surged after the Malaysian government opened the gate to welcome foreign investments in 1986 and reached the peak in the 1990s, bringing along flows of Taiwanese business migrants. Although Taiwan gradually withdrew its investments from Malaysia after the 2000s, it still stands as the one of top investor countries in Malaysia with its accumulated investments. By taking Taiwanese entrepreneurs and their businesses in Malaysia into study, this paper investigated how transnational and local networks were established and operated to facilitate business migration and corporate operation, and to what extent the characteristics of Taiwanese entrepreneurship were maintained, challenged, and adjusted in the host context. The analysis was based on the interview data collected between August of 2016 and July of 2017 from 24 Taiwanese business owners and top managers in northern, central and southern regions (Penang, Greater Kuala Lumpur, and Johor) in Malaysia as well as participant observation of Taiwanese firms in these regions. The findings showed that Taiwanese corporate management in Malaysia was culturally and structurally embedded in transnational and local contexts connected socially, economically, and politically through institutional linkages and mobility of people. Faced with changing national, regional, and global milieus, Taiwanese entrepreneurs, while preserving their outward and network-based features as "typical Taiwanese businessmen," adjusted their business orientation from limited localization to adaptable translocalization in pursuing their business aspirations in a foreign land.