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April 17, 2002
Chinese Executives Say Entrepreneurial Spirit is Key to Country’s Future, According to Accenture Study

Eighty-eight Percent Say Organisations Will Be More Entrepreneurial in Three Years’ Time

BEIJING; April 18, 2002 Most senior executives in China believe that encouraging greater entrepreneurial behaviour among their employees is crucial to the country’s future prosperity and success, according to a new study by Accenture. The study, Liberating the Entrepreneurial Spirit in China, was launched here today at the World Economic Forum’s China Business Summit.

This study is the latest part of a three-year project spanning 26 countries. Many business leaders blame government for a perceived failure to encourage and support entrepreneurship, and 79 percent feel taxes are a barrier to entrepreneurship, says the study. But, business leaders must take more responsibility themselves for driving cultural change through their organisations.

“China’s leading business executives recognise the importance of the entrepreneurial behavior to the country’s continued economic progress,” said Vernon Ellis, Accenture’s International Chairman. “However, if China is to meet the challenges and opportunities of World Trade Organisation membership, its business leaders must give all employees the freedom to act in an entrepreneurial manner. This must not be the sole preserve of senior management.”

The interviews with 78 senior executives in China were conducted in February and yielded many encouraging findings. Like their counterparts in other countries, nearly all (97 per cent) think that entrepreneurship is important to their organisation today. Eighty-five per cent think that their organisation encourages people to be creative and innovative, and 82 per cent think there are many people with drive in their organisation.

There was a significant difference in how business leaders perceive of their own entrepreneurial abilities, and those of their employees. This was greater in China than almost anywhere else with 68 per cent of respondents thinking that their staff lack entrepreneurial instincts. Paradoxically, 54 per cent also say that employees can be too entrepreneurial, perhaps suggesting a reluctance to give staff the freedom to behave in an innovative manner.

“This study calls for a new style of business leadership to create a genuinely entrepreneurial environment,” said Gong Li, Accenture’s Country Managing Director in China. “With a shift in attitudes toward the private sector and competitive markets, leaders must overcome their aversion to risk, which was named as a major barrier to entrepreneurship in China.”

To overcome these barriers, executives in China are quick to acknowledge that entrepreneurship must be collaborative in nature. Eighty-eight per cent of respondents encourage people to build contacts outside their working circles and 92 per cent think retaining and promoting the most entrepreneurial individuals is effective in encouraging entrepreneurship in their organisation. “It is clear that there is a real emphasis on collaboration at the top levels of organisations – this is an area where senior executives in other countries can learn from executives in China, ” said Liz Padmore, Director of Policy and Corporate Affairs, Accenture, who will lead a workshop on this topic at the China Business Summit.

Above all, leaders in China must be prepared to put greater trust in the entrepreneurial abilities of all of their employees, not just a supposed “entrepreneurial elite”. All employees must be allowed the freedom to act in an entrepreneurial manner.

The study is the latest part of a 30-month Accenture project spanning 26 countries. It draws on interviews with senior executives from the private sector – foreign joint ventures, wholly owned foreign enterprises and locally owned enterprises - and the public sector – collective and state-owned enterprises.

About Accenture
Accenture is the world’s leading management consulting and technology services organization. Through its network of businesses approach – in which the company enhances its consulting and outsourcing expertise through alliances, affiliated companies and other capabilities – Accenture delivers innovations that help clients across all industries quickly realize their visions. With more than 75,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of $11.44 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2001. Its home page is www.accenture.com.