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Suzhi expectations for double-shouldered academics in Chinese public universities: An exploratory case study

Maggie M. Wang (Department of Strategy and Human Resource Management, Sichuan University Business School, Chengdu, China)
Cherrie J.H. Zhu (Department of Management, Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)
Connie Zheng (Graduate School of Business, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
Susan Mayson (Department of Management, Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)

Journal of Chinese Human Resource Management

ISSN: 2040-8005

Article publication date: 7 October 2014

234

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore suzhi requirements and expectations to double-shouldered academics as middle-level cadres (双肩挑处级干部) in a Chinese higher education institute (HEI) as an initial step to examine the interplays between suzhi requirement and expectations and organizational operational mechanism in the Chinese context.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopted an exploratory single-case approach for the study. In this study, 22 participants composed of middle-level cadres, other stakeholders at the university, college/department and business unit levels were interviewed.

Findings

Suzhi requirements for the cadres followed the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) guideline, the required de, neng, qin, ji and lian (德, 能, 勤, 绩, 廉) was abstract and vague. With the parallel systems, the CPC and administrative lines, there were discrepancies between the CPC required suzhi and those expected by the stakeholders. A social phenomenon, “official rank-oriented standard” (ORS, guan ben wei, 官本位), was found significantly intertwining with the self suzhi expectation of the cadres, unveiling a more complex dynamics than most research reported for the Chinese public sector organizations (PSOs).

Researchimplications

With the initial qualitative findings unveiling suzhi as an organizational construct, this study informs future empirical research in the indigenous suzhi phenomenon in organizational setting. The conceptualized results of our study offer new insight for future indigenous Chinese management research in all PSOs including state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Originality/value

As an initial step, this study endeavored to explore suzhi as an organizational construct in a Chinese HEI. The paper contributes to the literature by unveiling the complexity of PSOs in the interplays of dual management systems and ORS coupled with dual-role suzhi requirements for the cadres.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge the Editor Greg G. Wang for his constructive suggestions and help that inspired the writing. The authors also highly appreciate the two anonymous reviewers’ comments. This study was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds from the Central Universities in China, Project No. Skyb201318.

Citation

M. Wang, M., J.H. Zhu, C., Zheng, C. and Mayson, S. (2014), "Suzhi expectations for double-shouldered academics in Chinese public universities: An exploratory case study", Journal of Chinese Human Resource Management, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 158-176. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCHRM-07-2014-0019

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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