Taiwan and globalization: reflections on the trajectory of Taishang studies
Introduction The study of Taiwanese entrepreneurs doing business in mainland China, or Taishang ৄଚ,1 has become a booming research area in Taiwan. In the past decade or so, more than a hundred journal articles have been published each year and several dozen Master’s and PhD theses submitted2 – a very different situation from that ten years previously, when hardly any studies on the subject were available. It is therefore timely to look back and assess the achievements and trends in this new research field of ‘Taishang studies’ (for brief reviews see also Keng and Lin 2007b; Tsai and Chang, 2010; Keng et al. 2012). In this chapter, we argue that the research agendas within this field reflect the anxieties in Taiwan concerning the undergoing process of globalization. This is because Taiwanese businesspeople were among the first group of Taiwanese to surf the waves of globalization, dragging their home country along. Consequently, Taiwanese society and academia have split over the Taishang issue. Those who take a positive view of globalization normally regard Taishang as pioneers of globalization who bring more opportunities to Taiwan. Those who are concerned about the risks and uncertainties that come with globalization, on the other hand, tend to treat Taishang as potentially dangerous for Taiwan’s economy and political future.