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Managing for “creativity”: MBAs and the transfer of creativity?

Loong Wong (Faculty of Business and Government, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia)

Chinese Management Studies

ISSN: 1750-614X

Article publication date: 13 June 2008




The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of education, in particular, the Master of Business Administration (MBA), on China's continual development and economic growth. This paper concerns itself with the “software” necessary to effect a qualitative transformation – education. MBA education's growth in China is reflective of the significant shortages of managerial expertise, but the MBA's roots in and transfer to China does not necessarily make it an agent of economic transformation and modernisation. This paper suggests that the MBA education's conceptual base and preoccupation, as well as Chinese managerial practices, may render management in China more rational and even, more efficient, but not necessarily more creative.


The paper draws on a critique of MBA education and the critical role played by communities in fostering creativity in building its claims, and presents an overview based on analysis of research materials.


This paper stresses the importance of keeping up with creativity and the emerging new global paradigms of the business environment. Managing and developing for “creativity” has become an important strategic instrument for firms and states to improve their competitiveness and create wealth. The paper examines the impact of education, in particular, the MBA on China's continual development and economic growth and argues that there is a preoccupation with techniques and assumes that creativity can be uni‐linearly transferred. The paper further points out that a “creative” economy and society needs appropriate infrastructures, strategies and mechanisms. Educational institutions offering business education need to be mindful of the limitations of their educational models and practices. Similarly, the Chinese need to be more reflective in their engagements with MBA education.

Practical implications

Critical areas are suggested that decision makers in government agencies, enterprises and international funding agencies need to address with respect if they are to effect “creativity” in China. Understanding that “creativity” is not one‐dimensional and uni‐linear will assist in enabling new possibilities and avenues of knowledge to be opened up and also in the development and nurturing of new institutions and practices necessary for creating a more dynamic and creative economy and society.


This paper critically assesses the transfer of “software” mechanisms into China which seek to transform its economy, and provides some observations and insights on creativity and its implications for China.



Wong, L. (2008), "Managing for “creativity”: MBAs and the transfer of creativity?", Chinese Management Studies, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 122-141.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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