Much work has been published regarding the success of Chinese capitalism in East and Southeast Asia in the last three decades.
Different school of thoughts had emerged to tackle this hot debated subject: First, the essentialists or the culturalists that emphasized the importance of culture, ethnicity and business networks; and second, the structuralists that call attention to the role of the state and the importance of political patronage. Both approaches mentioned above have contributed much for us to understand how Chinese capitalism works. However, both of these approaches are fragmented in nature and are incapable of tracing how Chinese entrepreneurs adapt themselves over time. The research approaches the question of Chinese entrepreneurship by combining considerations of structure and agency over time. Applying this framework the research aims to describe that Chinese entrepreneurship is not static but dynamic, taking new forms and constantly adapting to the global and local environments.

The objective of the research is three-fold: first, to describe the evolution of Chinese businesses in Malaysia as they adapt to the changing economic and political scenario, from the colonial era to the present global capitalism. Chinese businesses have evolved from tin mining and rubber growing and extended into commodity production, banking and finance, construction and property development, manufacturing industry, and advance technology manufacturing; second, to explain the evolution of intra-ethnic and Chinese family-based businesses to inter-ethnic and plural forms of enterprises as they adapt to government policies that favour the indigenous people and; third, to describe the responses of Chinese entrepreneurs to the increasing challenges of the global economy. By looking into these three aspects, the research aims to describe and explain how Chinese entrepreneurship in Malaysia has evolved over time.