Experiencing China

'Experiencing China' is about ordinary life in China and the wealing and dealing of a Dutchman in the Middle Kingdom. Marc works for DuoArts Consultancy and the Empowerment Foundation, travelling between the Netherlands and China.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Two months and two weeks to go before I leave for China. At the moment I am learning about blogging and learning about blogging means you learn about yourself. I have discovered that I am a fairly tradional lad standing with one leg in tradition and with the other in a 'blogalizing' world.

Last week I met a self made, real blogger, Bicycle Mark (www.bicyclemark.org/blog.html), and although we share our names, his and my blogstyle are quite different. Of course, I am a beginner, he already write to you people for three years with an enthusiasm that is unaccounted for. This enthusiasm for blogging also led to an appointment with Mark in a Amsterdam grand-cafe a week ago. For that, I thank you Mark, although I need some more lessons. Since then I know something more about blogging possibilities, such as html and sending pictures to your blog and created a logistic device on my blog that counts the many people that visit my blog site (mainly consisting of me, myself and I). And indeed, for example, I tried to put some pictures to my blog.... but failed. Still a lot to learn, but that's no problem.

I am now in a preparation phase. At some point you suddenly realize you have to do a lot of things before leaving this (now) grey and misty country. Oh yes, I have done it before, preparing for an extended stay in China, but everytime it strikes me. As you probably don't know yet (or did I already wrote about it in the introduction?), besides studying Chinese in Beijing, I also try to establish a career in this country. I left the bureaucratic but safe academic environment to set up a consultancy in China to find myself amongst many self made men and women that do business in China. No, I am not the only one, which I didn't expect of course, but what strikes me is that we (the self made professional entrepreneurs) form a group with distinct characteristics.

But before going into these characteristics in detail I have to tell you what I am currently doing. Well, at the moment I am utilizing and extending my network. I try to meet as many people as possible that share my enthusiasm with China professionally. It all began about a month ago, when I met a freelance consultant who was interested in my China plans and who knows people that know people that know people. Here we have already three characteristics: 1. though small in size, these people all have their one man enterprises, together they form a huge pool of professional knowledge that can be utilized for any project; 2. this pool of knowledge can be utilized in a very flexible way and; 3. can be regarded as a network. Thus, every small enterprise contains a small number of professionals that possess one 'piece of the puzzle'. In order to do a (large scale) project, these professionals cooperate in losely knit and probably temporal networks to get the job done. So, they make up the pieces of the puzzle that makes the puzzle complete. Secondly, all the self made man and women I met set up their small enterprise because they weren't satisfied with the existing and traditional organizations. Including me, these men and women share a deviant perspective, which they are unable to utilize within these traditional networks. Therefore, another characteristic of these networks might be: interdisciplinarity, multi-perspective and creative. I like that!

And yes, I'm sorry, but I am socialized within an academic environment. I can't help to relate this to theory. I taught 'globalization' for three years and the above described characteristics show resemblance to academics that describe the current globalization process. For example, Castells (1996) wrote a book about the 'network society' which resembles my experiences. Another, Gipouloux (in: Chan Kwok Bun 2000), described similar networks in China, claiming that this would be the new mode of enterprise in a globalizing world.

By saying this, an old tricky question emerges, that is, what is the difference between these Chinese networks described by e.g. Gipouloux and networking in Europe and the US? I found this to be a difficult question, frequently asked by my students when I still worked for the university. The answer (for the time being) is: the networks are the same, however, the way in which these networks are established is different.

I sincerely hope that my observations prove to be right. I would be a great thing to join these highly flexible and fluid networks. It makes my works varied and creative. We will see what the (near) future will bring.


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