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The “Hainan” lesson in China’s real estate industry- the overheated Hainan housing market in the early 1990s and its influence

Pan, R. (2020) The “Hainan” lesson in China’s real estate industry- the overheated Hainan housing market in the early 1990s and its influence. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00096757


This dissertation examines the development of the Chinese real estate sector since the 1980s, with a particular focus on the role played by private developers. The existing literature on the development of the Chinese real estate sector over the past forty years is dominated by discussion about the role of government policy. The role played by entrepreneurs in the current academic literature is secondary to government policy and largely passive. This dissertation focuses on a case study of a group of real estate entrepreneurs who were widely recognised in China as leaders of the real estate industry during the 2000s. It suggests that their role in the development of the real estate sector was more than passive, and that they acted with genuine entrepreneurial creativity. The research also suggests that the entrepreneurs considered here were impacted by events in the early 1990s in the real estate sector on Hainan island, which saw a bubble in real estate prices, which then collapsed. The development of the Hainan real estate market in the 1990s is an important phase for Chinese real estate industry. The real estate entrepreneurs completed the original capital accumulation in this process, and accumulated experience in the process of the real estate bubble. The bubble and its bursting had a profound impact on the entrepreneurs’ future business operations. However, very few studies are found in the existing academic literature about the role the entrepreneurs, i.e., the private developers in the market who played a fundamental role throughout the whole process and the experience they gained from the Hainan bubble. The study aims to develop research on the experience the real estate entrepreneurs gained from Hainan bubble and the impact on their future business. Three rounds of interviews were conducted with the entrepreneurs, scholars and government officers. Key findings suggest that the experience of the Hainan bubble deeply impacted the entrepreneurs. Imprinting theory has been used to explain the consequences of their future behaviour from having experienced such a deeply impactful experience. The dissertation suggests that their experience in the Hainan bubble made these real estate entrepreneurs pay more attention to controlling business risks. This helped them to operate steadily from 1995 to 2008, and their businesses developed smoothly. However, after the 2008 financial crisis, the conservative management style also resulted in these entrepreneurs missing opportunities that then appeared in the development of the real estate market, and these entrepreneurs, who had been the market leaders during the early 2000s, were surpassed by later ones after 2008. The impact of the Hainan bubble on the entrepreneurs was so profound that its effects were still felt long after.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Godley, A.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Business School
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School > Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour
ID Code:96757

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