Civic Startups: Lessons from Shenzhen
+ Kari Kohn
Shenzhen can be described as a civic startup and more specifically, an example of a charter city. On these metrics as well as several others it can be considered a success. As leaders think about the potential for reform in their own countries, they could consider some of the historical elements of Shenzhen that have been described by Christian Caryl in a recent Foreign Policy piece.
The city of Shenzhen was basically a greenfield with modest beginnings.
The goals of the Chinese leadership were audacious. They thought big regardless of past perceptions and skepticism.
Deng knew that catching up would require adopting and adapting successful rules and technologies from the rest of the world. If Shenzhen was successful, it would be a model for reform — a demonstration for what could be possible that could be copied throughout China.
Deng, a reformer who thought like an entrepreneur and an innovator, applied the use of special economic zones, that in turn, fostered new entrepreneurial norms.