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Chinese hedonic values and the Chinese classical virtues: managing the tension

Mike Thompson (China Europe International Business School, Shanghai, China)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 19 July 2011




The purpose of this paper is to explore the extent to which Chinese classical virtues act as a restraint on consumerist hedonic values and the associated priority on profit maximisation by managers.


The paper is based on a literature review and adopts a reflective approach to the topic.


The paper considers how Chinese classical virtues are related to contemporary relational or indigenous values and how a social tension is created between these values and the hedonic values now present in Chinese urban society. Implications for management and management education are reviewed in the light of this tension.

Practical implications

The social unrest created by the privatisation of SOEs can be mitigated by the promotion of management education sensitised to the cultural norms and expectations of the Chinese people in relation to the role and responsibilities of managers. The Junzi (gentleman‐leader) archetype and the virtues of ren‐yi‐li are offered as exemplary features of a management seeking to balance social responsibility with profitability.


The paper highlights the social turbulence created by the advent of market economics in China and the concomitant rise of consumerism and the privatisation of state‐owned enterprises.



Thompson, M. (2011), "Chinese hedonic values and the Chinese classical virtues: managing the tension", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 30 No. 7/8, pp. 709-723.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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