PUBLI : Simeng Wang et Xiabin Chen, « Capitalizing on Opportunities during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Business Transitions among Chinese Immigrant Entrepreneurs in France », Journal of Chinese Overseas, vol. 17, n° 2, 2021, p. 293–317


This article analyses busi­ness tran­si­tions among Chinese immi­grant entre­pre­neurs in France during the Covid-19 pandemic. Drawing on a histo­rical over­view of the deve­lop­ment of ethnic Chinese busi­nesses over the last century and an empi­rical study carried out in five different indus­trial sectors (import and export, retail, cate­ring, hotel, and tobacco) of the French economy, we examine what chal­lenges these entre­pre­neurs have faced during the pandemic, what stra­te­gies they have adopted in response to these chal­lenges, and what has enabled them to shift busi­ness patterns and commer­cial prac­tices in this unpre­ce­dented situa­tion. Our findings show that the Covid-19 pandemic has acce­le­rated the tran­si­tion of Chinese immi­grant entre­pre­neur­ship in France, from offline opera­tions to digital busi­ness. However, the pandemic may not be the direct cause of this busi­ness tran­si­tion ; rather, it has created unique condi­tions which faci­li­tate the tran­si­tion. Before the pandemic, some Chinese entre­pre­neurs had already made or partially made the tran­si­tion to “inte­gra­ting online and offline busi­nesses,” “hiring beyond Chinese ethnic networks,” and “paying atten­tion to the local country’s policy direc­tions,” which helped them greatly reduce the nega­tive impacts of the pandemic. During the pandemic, two unpre­ce­dented busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties were opened up : “foste­ring local produc­tion” and “seeking low-risk sectors,” which some Chinese entre­pre­neurs have proac­ti­vely pursued since April/​May 2020. These may be the new trends for Chinese entre­pre­neurs in France in the future. Theo­re­ti­cally, our study suggests that busi­ness tran­si­tions among Chinese entre­pre­neurs in France need to be examined beyond the frame­work of pure economic ratio­na­lity, taking into consi­de­ra­tion the inter­sec­tion of new dyna­mics of Chinese migra­tion into host country and the cross-cultural, cross-insti­tu­tional, cross-thin­king, and cross-border social enga­ge­ment of the entre­pre­neurs them­selves before, during, and after the pandemic.

Refe­rence page and direct acces to article