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Institutions and Ethnic Chinese Entrepreneurship in Indonesia

Risa Virgosita of the School of Business and Law at the University of Agder has submitted her thesis «Institutions and Ethnic Chinese Entrepreneurship in Indonesia”, and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Friday 19 June 2020. (Photo: Private)

Various illegitimate informal institutions exist and act as barriers to entrepreneurial activities, they should be reduced if not eliminated.

Risa Virgosita

PhD Candidate

The disputation will be held digitally, because of the Corona covid-19-situation. Spectators may follow the disputation digitally – link and thesis is available below.

Risa Virgosita of the School of Business and Law at the University of Agder has submitted her thesis «Institutions and Ethnic Chinese Entrepreneurship in Indonesia”, and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Friday 19 June 2020.

She has followed the PhD Programme at the School of Business and Law at the University of Agder.

The doctoral studies is a part of the In Search of Balance (ISB ) scheme between the University of Agder (UiA) and Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Indonesia. Funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Summary of the thesis by Risa Virgosita:

Institutions and Ethnic Chinese Entrepreneurship in Indonesia

Motivated by the extensive entrepreneurial presence and success of the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, who outperform the indigenous majority, this thesis is aimed at examining factors that differentiate ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs from their indigenous Javanese counterparts.

Significant economic contribution

Despite comprising only 1.2% of the total population, as well as facing formal and informal socio-political discrimination, the ethnic Chinese commercial activities contribute significantly to the Indonesian economy.

To discover the role of institutions in influencing the entrepreneurial activities of ethnic Chinese and Javanese, three related studies are conducted.

Three studies

  • The first examines institutions affecting ethnic entrepreneurs’ efforts, how these institutions differ between the ethnic Chinese and the Javanese, and how they are transmitted.
  • The next study examines whether institutional differences influence the ethnic entrepreneurs’ cognitive and behavioral aspects (i.e. financial literacy and entrepreneurial orientation), and tests the relationships between financial literacy, entrepreneurial orientation, and firm performance.
  • To see the manifestation of cognitive and behavioral aspects in practice, the third study examines illegitimate institutional pressures on ethnic entrepreneurs’ activities and their coping strategies.


The findings of each paper included in this thesis generate several implications for policy makers and ethnic entrepreneurs.

First, this thesis found that discrimination against the ethnic Chinese does not undermine their entrepreneurial spirit. This implies that if discrimination towards the ethnic Chinese were fully eliminated, their participation and competitiveness in entrepreneurship could be improved even further, allowing them to contribute even more to the Indonesian economy. Thus, policy makers should fully eliminate the discrimination against the ethnic Chinese and give all ethnic groups an even playing field in the market.

Second, as relational system and activities have a crucial role in transmitting institutions, policy makers should utilize these two approaches in entrepreneurship development programs.

Third, as the ethnic Chinese have higher levels of financial literacy and entrepreneurial orientation, policy makers should create and ingrain an entrepreneurial culture that promotes entrepreneurship, such that a less entrepreneurial ethnic culture gradually shifts into a more entrepreneurial one.

Fourth, as financial literacy significantly improves entrepreneurial orientation and entrepreneurial orientation significantly improves firm performance, policy makers should provide programs to improve entrepreneurial competencies.

Finally, as various illegitimate informal institutions exist and act as barriers to entrepreneurial activities, they should be reduced if not eliminated. Thus, policy makers should improve formal institutions and strengthen law enforcement, which could be achieved by the design of regulations that support entrepreneurship, the simplification of license procedures, and the creation of systems which enhance transparency.


Disputation facts:

The Candidate: Risa Virgosita (1981, Padang, Indonesia) BA: Bachelor in Management at Faculty of Economics and Business, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, MSc: MSc in Strategic Management at EDHEC Business School (École des Hautes Etudes Commerciales du Nord), Nice, France (master’s thesis title: Criminal Risks Threatening the Private Business Sector in Indonesia). Present position: Faculty member in the Department of Management, Faculty of Economics and Business, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia.

The trial lecture and the public defence will take place at internett, via the Zoom conferencing app (link below) Wednesday 10 June 2020.

Dean of the School of Business and Law at the University of Agder, Kristin Wallevik, will chair the disputation.

Trial lecture at 09:00
Public defence at 10:00

Given topic for trial lectureAn institutional theory approach to ethnic entrepreneurship: The role of resources, skills and values transmitted through generations”

Thesis Title«Institutions and Ethnic Chinese Entrepreneurship in Indonesia”

Search for the thesis in AURA - Agder University Research Archive, a digital archive of scientific papers, theses and dissertations from the academic staff and students at the University of Agder.


First opponent: Professor Gry Agnete Alsos, NORD University Business School

Second opponent: Associate Professor Marleen Dieleman, National University of Singapore

Professor Tor Helge Aas, University of Agder, is appointed as the administrator for the assessment commitee.

Supervisors were Professor Trond Randøy (main supervisor) and Professor Stein Kristiansen (co-supervisor)

What to do as an audience member:

The disputation is open to the public. We ask audience members to join the virtual trial lecture at 08:55 at the earliest and the public defense at 09:55 at the earliest. After these times, you can leave and rejoin the meeting at any time. Further, we ask audience members to turn off their microphone and camera and keep them turned off throughout the event. You do this at the bottom left of the image when in Zoom. We recommend you use ‘Speaker view’. You select that at the top right corner of the video window when in Zoom.

Opponent ex auditorio:

The chair invites members of the public to pose questions ex auditorio in the introduction to the public defense, with deadlines. Questions can be submitted to the chair Kristin Wallevik  on e-mail kristin.wallevik@uia.no

The thesis is available here: