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The Fruits of Opportunism

Noncompliance and the Evolution of China’s Supplemental Education Industry

The Fruits of Opportunism

Noncompliance and the Evolution of China’s Supplemental Education Industry

An in-depth examination of the regulatory, entrepreneurial, and organizational factors contributing to the expansion and transformation of China’s supplemental education industry.

Like many parents in the United States, parents in China, increasingly concerned with their children’s academic performance, are turning to for-profit tutoring businesses to help their children get ahead in school. China’s supplemental education industry is now the world’s largest and most vibrant for-profit education market, and we can see its influence on the US higher education system: more than 70% of Chinese students studying in American universities have taken test preparation classes for overseas standardized tests. The Fruits of Opportunism offers a much-needed thorough investigation into this industry. This book examines how opportunistic organizations thrived in an ambiguous policy environment and how they catalyzed organizational and institutional changes in this industry.

A former insider in China’s Education Industry, sociologist Le Lin shows how and why this industry evolved to become a for-profit one dominated by private, formal, nationally operating, and globally financed corporations, despite restrictions the Chinese state placed on the industry. Looking closely at the opportunistic organizations that were founded by marginal entrepreneurs and quickly came to dominate the market, Lin finds that as their non-compliant practices spread across the industry, these opportunistic organizations pushed privatization and marketization from below. The case of China’s Education Industry laid out in The Fruits of Opportunism illustrates that while opportunism leaves destruction in its wake, it can also drive the formation and evolution of a market.

248 pages | 3 halftones, 2 line drawings, 9 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2022

Asian Studies: East Asia

Education: Education--Economics, Law, Politics

Sociology: Occupations, Professions, Work, Social Institutions, Social Organization--Stratification, Mobility


"Much rhetoric on institutional changes in China portrays a top-down, rational process. Situated in China’s supplemental education sector, The Fruits of Opportunism is one of the best studies that explicate the multifaceted processes and subtle dynamics involved in the transformation of post-Mao China. Theoretically informed and empirically grounded, Le Lin’s book makes a convincing case for the role of opportunism in market formation and institutional changes."

Xueguang Zhou, Stanford University

"More than a study of China’s massive supplemental education industry, The Fruits of Opportunism shows what types of organizations succeed in the public-private ambiguity that marks Chinese enterprise. This groundbreaking book is theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich."

Elizabeth Popp Berman, University of Michigan

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
1 Opportunities for Opportunists: A Theoretical Excursion

Part I When Opportunists Produce Changes
2 Kill Your Competitors
3 Be More Aggressive Than Your Employees
4 Not Much English Taught at Our English School

Part II How Opportunism Persists amid Changes
5 Kidnapping Kids for Their Own Good
6 There Are No Professional Managers in China
7 Who Cares about Tuition Money
Appendix: List of All SEOs and Data Source

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