Capitalist Education: US-Sponsored Management Education in Cold War Hong Kong

Peter HAMILTON (Presenter)

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


In the early Cold War, an array of US government agencies, higher educational institutions, and non-governmental organizations embedded in Washington’s "state-private network" collaborated to sponsor a covert campaign to transplant American management models into societies across the entire non-communist world. Hong Kong was a key site in this global effort as both a rapidly industrializing economy and a critical node in Asia’s Cold War. Yet, of all the major capitalist powers, Britain was actually the most skeptical of US management models. As a result, instead of working with the British, US institutions such as the Asia Foundation and Harvard Business School (HBS) first partnered with Hong Kong business leaders such as Dr. Sik-nin Chau and organizations such as the Junior Chamber of Commerce to establish the colony's first informal management training program in 1959, the Hong Kong Management Association in 1960, and the first MBA program in the Sinophone world in 1966. Utilizing colonial government records, the bilingual press, and the papers of former HBS professors, this paper examines these importations of US-modeled management training as an overlooked form of US cultural diplomacy and Cold War soft power that helped to advance what I call Hong Kong’s "informal decolonization" and re-orient its economic development toward US corporate models and educational systems. In particular, this paper interrogates the incentives that pushed Hong Kong business elites toward these new forms of American knowledge-making and highlights the private-sector transpacific networks that drove this shift in spite of opposition from the colonial government.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2024
EventAssociation for Asian Studies Annual Conference 2024 - Seattle, United States
Duration: 14 Mar 202417 Mar 2024


ConferenceAssociation for Asian Studies Annual Conference 2024
Abbreviated titleAAS2024
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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