International entrepreneurial orientation amidst post-colonial upheaval: entrepreneurs during the Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper examines the internationalization response of entrepreneurs in Hong Kong to the institutional upheaval of the Umbrella Revolution (UR), analyzed through the lens of post-colonial theory. Design/methodology/approach: Inductive methods are applied to interview data on dimensions of ethnic background (local Chinese, regional Chinese and British expatriates) and geographical scope of business (Hong Kong only or global). The analysis consists of first-order concepts, second-order themes and aggregate dimensions which link the results to post-colonial theory and international entrepreneurial orientation (IEO). Findings: Amongst informants with a high international entrepreneurial orientation (IEO), strategy response to upheaval is highly influenced by ethnic background and geographical flexibility in a post-colonial context. Applying Bhabhaian post-colonial theory, the Hong Kong UR is found to be a liminal space, where internationalization strategy in response to upheaval belies subconscious, ethics-laden constructions of post-colonial identity, manifesting in counterintuitive ways. Originality/value: This paper addresses the paucity of studies on liminality and entrepreneurship and on how IEO responds to acute uncertainty in the business environment. Further, IEO is found to be an individual rather than a firm-level construct. Finally, a post-colonial theory is considered in a larger context of liminality and how the transitional self of entrepreneurs comes to terms with institutional upheaval.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-598
Number of pages27
JournalCritical Perspectives on International Business
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov. 2021


  • Ethnicity
  • Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution
  • Institutional upheaval
  • International entrepreneurial orientation
  • Liminality
  • Post-colonialism


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