Beyond Communication: The Cultural Effect of Dialect Competence on Urban Migration Entrepreneurship in China

38 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2018

See all articles by Chen Zhu

Chen Zhu

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Students

Jim Huangnan Shen

Center for International Development, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University

Chien-Chiang Lee

Nanchang University

Date Written: November 27, 2018

Abstract

In China, dialect has the dual attributes of "communication" and "culture." On the one hand, as a tool for communication between people, good communication skills not only help investors to understand the true nature of enterprises, but also enhance the reputation of entrepreneurs, which in turn helps entrepreneurs to obtain external financing. On the other, as a symbol of individual identity, using local dialects may help individuals to obtain social capital, which not only encourages the acquisition of entrepreneurial resources, but also oils the wheels of transactions. However, the existing literature is less concerned with the latter. Based on the theory of social identity, this paper uses Chinese Family Panel Survey Data (CFPS) to explore the important role of the “cultural attributes” of dialect in immigrant entrepreneurial behaviour. At the same time, we analyze the mediating effect of social capital and the regulation effect of the dialect environment. The study has found that, by controlling for the "communication” attributes of the dialect, the “cultural” attributes of the dialect improved the prospects of migrants’ entrepreneurship. After using a "twin" sample to overcome selectivity bias, the results still presented steadily. Second, local dialect promotes entrepreneurship among urban migrants by constructing social networks and social trust. Third, the “cultural” attributes of dialect make migrants’ entrepreneurship decisions more pronounced in areas with less linguistic diversity and lower prevalence of Mandarin, but has no such impact on entrepreneurial income. This study attempts to build a bridge between dialect and entrepreneurship, which not only reveals the important role of the “cultural” attributes of dialect in migrants’ entrepreneurship, but also enriches the related research on “dialect behaviour.”

Keywords: dialect ability, linguistic diversity, cultural differences, entrepreneurship, identity

JEL Classification: F22, J15, J44, J61, L26, M13, O31, O32, O33

Suggested Citation

Zhu, Chen and Shen, Jim Huangnan and Lee, Chien-Chiang, Beyond Communication: The Cultural Effect of Dialect Competence on Urban Migration Entrepreneurship in China (November 27, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3291577 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3291577

Chen Zhu

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Students ( email )

China

Jim Huangnan Shen (Contact Author)

Center for International Development, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University ( email )

One Eliot Street Building
79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Chien-Chiang Lee

Nanchang University ( email )

999 Xuefu Avenue
Hong Gu Tan New District
Nanchang, Jiangxi 330031
China
330031 (Fax)

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