The Historical Roots of Chinese Cultural Values and Managerial Practices

By Rarick, Charles A. | Journal of International Business Research, July 1, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Historical Roots of Chinese Cultural Values and Managerial Practices


Rarick, Charles A., Journal of International Business Research


ABSTRACT

To understand current Chinese culture and managerial practices requires an appreciation and understanding of important Chinese historical fibres and philosophical orientations, important historical figures such as Confucius and Mencius, Sun Tzu and Sun Pin, Lao Tzu, and others are discussed, along with cultural values such as guanxi, dao, dé, li, and ren. This paper provides insight into the major figures and philosophies which have shaped current Chinese cultural values and provides a deeper understanding of why the Chinese have adopted their unique management style.

INTRODUCTION

China's recent and impressive economic gains have captured the attention of the world. With the world's fastest growing economy and largest population, China is poised to change the landscape of global business. China has become the fourth largest economy in the world in a very short time. This economic gain is driven in part by an impressive expansion of China's manufacturing base and export abilities; both of which are expected to continue to increase in the coming years and to outperform its large competitor, India (Black 2007; Wu 2007; Lee, Rao, and Shephers 2007). With China's economic growth comes an increased need to better understand the strategic thinking of the Chinese. The last few years have seen an increased interest in understanding the business and managerial practices of the Chinese (Quer, Claver & Rienda 2007). In the hope of either capitalizing on China's growth, or being able to defend against its economic threat, many in the West and beyond have taken a much greater interest in China. One area of particular interest is a better understanding of Chinese culture and management system.

In order to truly understand another culture, it is necessary to explore the sources of the values of that culture. A deeper understanding of a culture is achieved when one explores the historical antecedents of the beliefs and values of the people comprising the culture. While much literature is devoted to current business practices and cultural do's and don'ts, this information provides only a superficial understanding and limited ability to work with people in the targeted culture. For example, while it is useful to understand that the Chinese place their family name first and given name second, a deeper understanding and appreciation of the importance of family and collectivist orientation can be gained by examining the sources of those cultural practices. Wong (2005) has proposed that management researchers have failed to appreciate the importance of history in explaining the management practices of the Chinese. This paper attempts to provide a better understanding of Chinese culture and management practices by exploring the most important historical figures and philosophies of Chinese culture.

Some of the more common characteristics of Chinese management and organization are: centralized control, collectivism, harmony, authoritarian and paternalistic leadership, flexible strategies, family-staffed businesses, and strong organizational networks and business connections. These characteristics are practiced both in China and overseas by the Chinese Diaspora. All of these practices can be traced to important historical figures and schools of thought beginning with the very early rules and philosophers of China.

LAO TZU AND THE SAGE KINGS

Early Chinese civilization saw the rise of great leaders. Two important figures in this early period were the Sage Kings of High Antiquity, Yao, and Shun. In particular, Yao is seen as a model of effective and morally perfect leadership. He is credited with many improvements including the establishment of a calendar useful for the planting of crops and the creation of harmony among the villages. Yao' s rule was wise and humanistic. When great floods devastated China, Yao suffered along with his people. He developed a social and political structure that helped to unite the Chinese people. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Historical Roots of Chinese Cultural Values and Managerial Practices
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.