Innovation is a key driver for economic development and social progress and small business is one of the best ways for people to express their willingness and capability to innovate. Pervasive business ownership has, therefore, been the foundation in many societies for the continued improvement of people’s economic wellbeing. In the People’ Republic of China, however, private business ownership was prohibited between 1957 and 1978. Productive innovations were extremely restricted and as a consequence, China’s economy was on the verge of collapse by the end of 1978. The Chinese people had suffered a historic setback.
Alibaba’s growth, driven by unleashing grassroots entrepreneurship, has become an exemplar of China’s innovation in the 21st century. Started by 18 young people in 1999, Alibaba has grown into a giant global internet platform and has made many invaluable contributions to China’s progress. Highlighting the importance of pervasive small business ownership in unleashing grassroots innovation and improving economic wellbeing, Professor Lowrey will discuss Alibaba’s innovative strategies and explain the economic theory behind its inspiring success.
Dr. Ying Lowrey is Professor of Economics at Tsinghua University and Deputy Director of the Tsinghua Research Center for Chinese Entrepreneurs, and a member of the Academic Committee for Alibaba Group Research Institute. Her teaching and research interests include economics of innovation and entrepreneurship in the internet and platform economy, the modern microfinance market, business demographics, characteristics of business owners, and the role of free enterprise and competition in the macroeconomy.
She received her economics Ph.D. from Duke University, economics MA from Yale University and mathematics BS from Wuhan University. Before joining Tsinghua University in 2012, she served as senior economist at the Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration and has taught economics at George Washington University and San Diego State University.