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Competitive dynamics: Eastern roots, Western growth

Ming-Jer Chen (University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 3 October 2016




The purpose of this paper is to bridge the understanding of apparent dichotomies such as East and West, philosophy and social sciences, and antiquity and modernity, and to continue the vibrant expansion of competitive dynamics study into the realm of East-West theoretical fusion.


The author looks to classical Chinese philosophy to discover the origins and nature of competitive dynamics. The paper develops the premise that the foundational thrusts of this contemporary Western management topic spring from ancient Eastern conceptions of duality, relativity, and time.


Research inroads are made along two paths. First, the paper traces the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of competitive dynamics to Eastern thinking. Then by bridging what have customarily been perceived as fundamentally different paradigms, it reveals, in a new light, empirical findings in this strategy subfield.

Research limitations/implications

Linking Western management science, and specifically the study of competitive dynamics, to classical Eastern philosophy raises new research questions in the areas of international management and management education as well as competitive dynamics. In the latter, the paper suggests opportunities for exploring connections between traditional Chinese concepts and contemporary organizational and competition research issues, including competitive and cooperative relationships at the industry level. Future research may also investigate the fundamental differences and similarities between Eastern and Western philosophies, and their implications for competitive strategies.


From a relatively obscure corner of business academia, competitive dynamics now occupies a distinct place in strategic management research and is a topic of intense interest to scholars in a variety of disciplines. The usual view is that competitive dynamics fits squarely in the spectrum of social sciences, an organically home-grown area of Western study. This paper examines the topic from a distinctly different angle – through the lens of ancient Eastern philosophy – to discern deeper a deeper meaning and wider application.



Dedication: this paper is dedicated to Aixinjueluo Yu-Yun (1906-2011), my inspiring mentor, who not only guided me into the world of classical Chinese philosophy and to the origin of integrative East-West thinking but provided a living example of knowledge-practice “oneness,” the lifelong mission of a Chinese scholar. The author would like to thank Liangding Jia, Hao-Chieh Lin, Leigh Anne Liu, John Michel, Danny Miller, Chung-Hsing Sun, Wenpin Tsai, and Charles F. Tucker for their valuable comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Special thanks are extended to Editor-in-Chief Rosalie Tung for her editorial guidance and insightful suggestions for this paper. Assistance from Ying-Jan Lin and Hsin-Hung Forrence Chen is appreciated. Financial support from the Batten Institute and the Darden Foundation of the University of Virginia is gratefully acknowledged.


Chen, M.-J. (2016), "Competitive dynamics: Eastern roots, Western growth", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 510-530.



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