I heard an educator in China said the other day on TV that he encouraged the Chinese students to go to the US to study because American education encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, and it will be very helpful for the Chinese students who will return to China to work. Yes. I agreed with the first part but I laughed about the second part of his words.
Yes. American education system does encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, but will that be helpful for the Chinese students who decided to return to China after graduate? I doubt it.
First of all, for doing successful business in China, it will not be enough if you only have the skills or knowledge, or so-called entrepreneurship, you also need to know how to use “unconventional” ways to establish good relationship with the local government officials, how to socialize with and please the clients and government officials at the restaurants or clubs outside of regular business hours, and how to cut the corners and game the system in almost every step of the way, and I don’t think these are the entrepreneurship the American education system teaches.
Second, innovation, what an easy word to say but hard to do in China. In that part of the world, everything is done twice or three times faster than in the US. A building in the US that needs 3 years to build can be built in China in 8 months. Speed is above anything. How can you innovate anything high-tech or well thought through in very short period of time?! Moreover, working extra long hours is also the norm in China. How can you innovate when you are always exhausted?! not mentioning disrespect of copy rights and intelligence property will always kill your spirit of innovation.
So, the students do learn the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in the US, but neither of them will be useful in China.