Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Overseas Chinese have found their economic niche primarily in commerce, though in the context of the modern state they have diversified into a variety of occupations. The family-run business is common and describes a range of undertakings, from modest ventures involving the cooperation of husband and wife (with children sometimes providing labor) to multinational firms run by family members trained in the latest management techniques and employing nonfamily members. Increasingly, employees in Chinese-managed firms are multiethnic rather than exclusively Chinese.
Trade. Overseas Chinese have historically been traders and middlemen in Southeast Asia. Chinese business networks are legendary for the extent of their international linkages, which often follow family or ethnic networks.
Division of Labor. Husband and wife frequently cooperate in running family firms. Household work is primarily managed by women, and children often assist in this work. Unmarried children also frequently help out in small family businesses.