This sets the scene for post-1945 China, emphasizing World War II and Civil War destruction (though highly variable regionally), and key challenges facing the nation in 1949. These include dealing with a fragmentary and incomplete infrastructure, repeated cycles of natural disasters, and the legacy of several centuries of foreign interference and manipulation. China prioritized self-management and self-sufficiency to exclude Western incursions, but this hampered addressing the first two challenges. Then follows is a thumbnail sketch of PRC history from 1949 to 1971, with comparisons to Central European efforts at “building socialism.” The remainder locates this study within business history generally and in relation specifically to Chinese business history, which has largely ignored the Maoist decades. It also presents the study’s central argument—that persistent experimentation with novel organizational and technological approaches to problem-solving drew on long-standing Chinese enterprise pragmatism and traditions of emulating exemplary practices, while creating durable, flexible capabilities foundational for the PRC’s emergence as a major economic power.