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What Chinese Management Studies Wants I
Article Type: Editorial From: Chinese Management Studies, Volume 8, Issue 3
I wish to thank Professor Eldon Li for his efforts in guest editing this thematic issue of Chinese Management Studies (CMS) on Corporate Politics, Philanthropy and Governance. Given his guest editorial commentary on the selected papers, I am again enabled to focus my own E-I-C editorial on what this journal wants. I have been inspired by the essay in The Economist to share my innermost thoughts about CMS.
I hope this editorial will trigger off responses from scholars who are planning or are currently working on Chinese management as their research activity. In my last editorial, I dealt with guest editorship emphasizing collaborative East-West efforts. Here, I will zero in on how I plan to be developing an identity for CMS. In so doing, I proffer a sample of my very own paper as a possible but not definitive sample. The title of the paper is Governance for China: A Multi-Method Research in Corruption Studies.
Turning to The Economist, on page 46 of the essay, it is stated in reference to China as follows:
They condemn Western interference in the internal affairs of developing countries, but exacerbate corruption and poor governance in countries where they have a growing stake of their own […] [Italics are added by author].
This trend if it is true of the past must now be reversed: China is verging on becoming the world’s largest economy. That is why good governance is what China must not be found wanting. President Xi Jin Ping is driving hard now to rein in corrupted top officials. Hopefully, professors who contribute to CMS should tackle head on topics like corruption, which are of deep concern to China.
Besides topicality with reference to China, this paper illustrates an approach in how authors may unveil the deeper significances of symbols used within Chinese characters. In our case, the concept of corruption as written in Chinese (Figure 1):
Figure 1. Chinese characters for corruption
Why? This is due to the very different nature of the two languages: English, a recent language (alphabetical) and the much older, Chinese (pictograph).
In the paper we show why etymological roots to Chinese characters should be incorporated as part of scholar’s research efforts. Through my personal experience of researching into Chinese characters as utilized in the Art of War by Sun Tzu (Sun Zi), I realized how these pictographs may yield deep insights. Remember the proverbial: a picture is worth a thousand words.
China is not just a country: Chinese in CMS embraces a 5,000 years old civilization. Remember, there are several versions of a given character: bone, tortoise shell, bronze, seal and more. I am surprised though, there are no bamboo variations! These changes in inscriptions often lead toward a simplification of the character. Although American English may have different spellings from British English the meanings of the words are the same.
Then as instructed in CMS Author’s guide, we undertook a multi-disciplinary design as well as multi-method research in shaping up the paper. Also, our orientation is to stay as practically oriented for management as possible. Consistent with CMS objectives, we hope this paper proves to be useful to policymakers in China. Similarly as Editor-in-Chief (E-I-C), I hope to be seeing practice-relevancy in future submissions to CMS.
A comment in the leader on What China Wants (p. 9, The Economist, August 23-29) struck a chord in me:
And there is no reason to exclude China from co-operation in space. Even during the cold war American and Soviet astronauts worked together.
I came to exactly the same conclusion upon when I delivered in pu-tong-hua on the future of Chinese management research. It was in Harbin at Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) and during the celebration of the School of Management’s 60th Anniversary (see Plate 1).
Plate 1. Author at Harbin Institute of Technology
I have always being fascinated by museums, and in HIT, I was amazed by their Aeronautics Museum. In Nanyang Technological University (NTU), I had been Chairman of Systems Engineering Management administration, the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering. Thus, I can appreciate administratively, what a task it will be to establish and sustain a specialist museum of aerospace.
Perhaps I can do something to foster active research collaboration between Chinese and Western professors? This may be instituted through say restructured, revitalized and refocused Global CMS Conferences? Very much unlike 2007 when I first founded CMS, we now have a tremendous following from professors within China.
Can more Chinese professors – working inside China – often young, energetic and very bright collaborate be collaborating in research on management with their counterparts from the West? The hurdles lie in language, culture, habits, values and even thinking: despite the internet, there is still need for East-West cross-fertilization of ideas.
Few outsiders, however, realize just how challenging it is for a professor – or any one – in China to master English to a scholarly level. Like Japanese language in Japan, pu-tong-hua is predominant – if not the only form of communication – inside China. Thus, a Chinese professor will have to make a special effort to present in English at Conferences. Despite this, can CMS help to foster across-ideas fertilization? (See Figure 2 below).
Figure 2. Future of
How? A strategy to foster the emergences of themes: clustering professors together in presenting, chatting and collaborating through meetings at Conferences. This is hardly a new approach. Themes emerged too from more than the 200 submissions for 2011 Conference: processed and later emerging as papers in CMS journals.
What is new in the tag, then?
It is to foster this interest informally before the Conference. That will be different from how others organize these meetings. Taking say, aerospace: maybe a professor from China keen on managerial aspects of aerospace starts the ball rolling. He interests other professors and as a team leader, he then contacts CMS for building a thematic issue around “Management inside China Aerospace”. Here is where I may take over to interest another professor from the West: “Do you want to participate?” He or she may then rope in a few more professors.
Such organizing takes time, but how long? That will be an experiential question. But this can be done too for other possible themes. The twist in tagging is not to decide on a theme a priori. Now we do it via an analysis of a collection of Scholarly One submissions. The approach should be to let it be self-organizing: CMS Conference then announces the theme via the traditional mode of conference brochure.
Our social goal as CMS journal: to create the climate for East-West collaboration in exploring space. Maybe one day, our children may wake up reading China Daily or Washington Post: Chinese and American astronauts walking on moon […]. For that to happen, we need good management from both sides of the Pacific. We are all one race: human. The resources of our Mother Earth are too scarce for sub-division (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Cartoon by Author of Chinese and American astronauts on the moon
While aerospace is exciting, other interesting themes may also emerge: managing of collection (museum), managing of crisis (MH370) and management in a specific engineering field. For this Chinese professors have a pressing role to contribute: generating new ideas within given themes. The same newspaper, The Economist reported on the observation (p. 46):
They (the Chinese) love to show up, but we’re still waiting for their first idea […] (Then concluding) […] the world needs more Chinese engagement and initiative, not less […].
Interestingly, CMS faces a similar problem: the lack of submissions with new ideas, a lot replicating the research already done in the West. Maybe there is scope for research on this phenomenon: Is it a cultural problem? Or is it just an early phase of Chinese intellectuals in integrating with the Western system of research and publication?
I keep an open mind on this. Although preference is given to professors with new ideas, CMS will still process papers replicating earlier works. There must, however, be some improvements over previous works. Specifically for such reviews, a detailed guideline is provided to Guest Editors on the criteria for acceptances of such papers.
One idea that I am still toying in my mind is for CMS to encourage Working Papers of Research on Chinese Management in English by Universities in China. The inspiration came when as Visiting Professor at University of Science and Technology, China (USTC) (April 2014) I sat through the presentations by doctoral candidates (see Plate 2).
Plate 2. Author attending a doctoral candidates' presentation at University of Science and Technology, China
Professor WEI Jiu Chang led this team of young researchers at the USTC. I am glad he is now a Guest Editor for 2015 CMS Innovation thematic issue. Chinese unlike Americans like to be working within groups and one metaphor is the octopus. Metaphorically, the leader is the head coordinating the activity of a complex of eight, tentacular members.
One last comment and again, I quote for the wisdom in the leader (p. 9):
[…] that the Chinese system will of itself adapt from one-party rule to some more liberal polity that, by its nature, is more comfortable with the world as it now is […].
Is it then time for a CMS thematic issue on highly sensitive topic: managing politics? That some professors may suggest a post-Hobbesian model? (To be continued in II).
Again, I welcome views.
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