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A Confucian approach to well‐being and social capital development

Lili Zhao (Department of Management Communication, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)
Juliet Roper (Department of Management Communication, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 19 July 2011




This paper aims to discuss and demonstrate the synergies between the western concept of corporate social responsibility that is emerging from a background of individualism and market competition, and the traditional values of Chinese Confucianism, as applied to managerial practice.


The paper is primarily theoretical in perspective. It also draws upon interview data derived from an in depth study of a large state‐owned corporate group in China in order to demonstrate the model that is known as modern Confucian entrepreneurship.


Adherence to Confucian values was demonstrated by both manager and employee interviewees. However, Chinese managers also need to reform some practices as they move into the international market place. As western managers, at the same time, increasingly seek to increase their social capital it is clear that Chinese and western managers can learn from each other.

Research limitations/implications

The examples drawn upon in this paper come from a state‐owned corporation. Indications are that smaller, privately owned companies in China are more aggressively adopting market models built upon competitive individualism. Further research is needed to develop comparisons.

Practical implications

The paper suggests a hybrid model of business management that combines aspects of both western and Confucian‐based management styles that are proven to be successful in building social capital. It also suggests that fundamental change needs to be effected through business school teaching.

Social implications

The paper urges a more collective view of management that is built upon trust and focuses on employee and social wellbeing. Indications are that increased wellbeing generates more cohesive, productive and happier societies.


The introduction of interview data provides unique insight to Confucian values in practice in a modern Chinese company.



Zhao, L. and Roper, J. (2011), "A Confucian approach to well‐being and social capital development", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 30 No. 7/8, pp. 740-752.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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