How Does Chinese Culture Affect Chinese Management?

Essay by raddieUniversity, Master'sA, March 2006

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A Culturalists' perspective on Chinese management maintains "the influence of Chinese cultural values on management practises is so significant that it has created the distinguishing characteristics of the Chinese managerial system" . It is said that the prevailing Chinese culture has strongly influenced management in terms of centralized authority, hierarchical structures as well as informal co-ordination and control mechanisms . However, in studying Chinese management thought, although one can readily trace its development from the past to the present, it remains unclear whether this is wholly due to Chinese culture . This essay will explore cultural influence on Chinese management, followed by a brief discussion on the validity of this argument in the PRC today.

There are four deep-rooted treads of culture that have bound the Chinese people for over 5000 years . The first is agrarianism, which conjures a very communal ethos, group cooperation and harmony as well as loyalty and obedience to familial hierarchy .

The second thread is said to be morality: the Confucian system is said to be the social fabric of Chinese culture and has been ingrained within Chinese society for over 2000 years. Confucian scholars developed an ideology based on the moral nature of man, harmony of society, political legitimacy and order and unity and it is claimed, "the early period of intellectual ferment profoundly affected the formation of Chinese management" . Confucian ideology centred on morality, virtuous rule and rigid, hierarchical socio-political relationships . Confucius stressed the importance of social hierarchy and social relationships and the requirement of harmonious operation and welfare of society .

The third cultural thread is the Chinese pictographic language. Since children do have to memorise thousands of pictures rather than a sequence of letters it is believed that Chinese thinking takes on more of a holistic processing of...