Joining Forces to Save the Nation : Corporate Educational Governance in Republican China
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AbstractThis chapter reassesses the modernization processes at work in Republican China during the Warlord period between 1911 and 1927 by focusing on corporate, public action by non-state interest groups and organizations. In particular, it looks at modes of corporate governing at the interface of business/economy and education: the realm of vocational education. The chapter examines a particularly illuminative corpus of actors, the Chinese Association for Vocational Education (CAVE) (Zhonghua Zhiye Jiaoyushe), which was founded in Shanghai in 1917 by Huang Yanpei (1878–1965). CAVE was established amidst calls to “[save] the country through education” (jiaoyu jiuguo). This heterogeneous group comprising Confucian-educated scholars, modern scientists with international experience, entrepreneurs, manufacturers, craftspeople, journalists, politicians, and political advisors were particularly active (and partly successful) in formulating and promoting vocational education through their engagement in the media, in politics, in professional associations and guilds, and in schools. On the one hand, CAVE represented a quest for coherence and continuities within a fragmented society (and of the tensions that arose from this quest) and, on the other, a search for a modern nation-state in which Chinese adolescence would be turned into a productive workforce and loyal citizenry. Almost inadvertently, the association, with its members coming from all realms of Chinese urban society, served also as a case in point for corporate governance to reach these aims of unity and modernity.