Returnee Entrepreneurs, Science Park Location Choice and Performance: An Analysis of High-Technology SMEs in China


Mike Wright, tel.: +44 (0)115 951 5257; e-mail:


Building on an asset complementarity perspective, human capital and social capital measures are used to examine the science park location decisions of returnee entrepreneurs and the performance of their ventures. The study uses a unique, hand-collected data set of 349 SMEs from Zhongguancun Science Park in China, including 53 SMEs from locations administered by universities. The article considers the antecedents of university and nonuniversity science park location and firm growth with a view to drawing conclusions that go beyond the specific context of Beijing and China. Its findings include the tendency for returning entrepreneurs with academic knowledge in the form of patents transferred from abroad to locate in nonuniversity science parks, and for those with previous firm ownership abroad to choose university science parks. The firms of returnees with patents from abroad enjoyed stronger employment growth in nonuniversity science parks and those with commercial experience abroad with MNCs performed better in university science parks. This evidence is consistent with the view that returning entrepreneurs seek complementary (academic and commercial) assets in their location decisions, although some inconsistencies with this view are also discussed.