Do Mao Zedong and I share a common ancestry?

Chinese Management Studies

ISSN: 1750-614X

Article publication date: 11 April 2008



Teck Foo, C. (2008), "Do Mao Zedong and I share a common ancestry?", Chinese Management Studies, Vol. 2 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Do Mao Zedong and I share a common ancestry?

Article Type: Editorial From: Chinese Management Studies, Volume 2, Issue 1.

Genealogy as part of Chinese management research

As an Editor, I like to encourage the publication of empirical researches highlighting patterns in data suggesting underlying philosophies, strategies, values, practices and even thinking. This is part of the long-established tradition of what scholarly research is about. Indeed, many recent papers I have been receiving for Chinese Management Studies (CMS) are in-depth, well investigated scholarly works deeply grounded on empirical data.

Let me present you such a paper for this first 2008 issue of the CMS. It is the kind of work that this journal publishes for scholars globally. The first paper we showcase is on the diversification of Chinese companies by a robust team of researchers: Joseph Fan, Jun Huang, Felix Oberholzer-Gee, Troy Smith and Mengxin Zhao.

Even though the period of “observation” is relatively short (2001-2005: five years) especially from a traditional Chinese perspective of time with her 5,000 years of recorded history the results so clearly map out Chinese diversification strategy. Through their highly valuable work we may say that top Chinese managers are the world's most aggressive diversifiers. That is at least, as of now, in the first half-decade of the new millennium. The most significant finding is that the Chinese entrepreneurial firms are:

[...] the most diversified in our sample by 2005 ...

That the Chinese are indeed bucking the general trend of firms worldwide becoming less diversified over time. Even more intriguingly, it is the state-owned enterprises (SOE) that are even more aggressive than the typical Chinese firms. One interpretation is that by this independent research, we may say that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are by their policies indeed transforming SOEs. To put it in Darwinian language: SOEs are pitted in a fight to survive, seeking out new horizons and environments.

In the next paper, we publish the work by WENG Qing-Xiong. He shares the results of his research (as funded by the Natural Science Foundation of China) in exploring empirically and statistically (factor analyses), the impact of man-created environments via industrial clustering on the development of talents. It is good to know that in China, human resource policies now have positive impacts in the nurturing of talents. This is an area that is crucial for the future growth of a knowledge-based Chinese economy. Indeed, the topic of an emerging knowledge economy in China is so important for CMS that a special issue (John Humphreys as Editor) is now in progress.

Our third paper by Ruth Alas is on differences in attitudes and values across what I see as essentially, the “chopstick” societies: mainland Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Hong Kong Chinese. As may be anticipated, there are:

[...] significant differences as well as similarities ...

And according to the author, these may be attributable to both these factors:

[...] historical legacy and in particular, differences in institutional development [...]

These societies share common roots in being influenced by Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist philosophies and thinking. Together, they share a deep belief in the very ancient principles and practices originating from the I Ching or the Book of Changes. I am therefore very glad as an Editor to bring the fourth paper to attention of a much wider scholarly community, for few non-Chinese influenced societies truly appreciate how deeply influential I Ching is on the lives of many of these peoples. Chinese, Korean, Japanese and many overseas Chinese top CEOs, businessmen and managers continue to consult the I Ching as part of their decision making processes. HSU Mu-Lan and CHIU Kuan-Yao ably compare Western approaches to decision making with what they term as I Ching's “Early management decision making model.” I hope to be receiving papers relating management to Chinese philosophy, culture, history and even historical novels.

In the first issue of the first volume, I had in Wolf, Mao or Tao mentioned about works in China exploring Mao Zedong for management. For CMS 2.1 I have an even more astounding comment to make: Do Mao Zedong and I share the same ancestry? My surname Foo ( pinyin (Fú)) is definitely, not on the face of it, linked in anyway to Mao (). Recent research however suggests otherwise.


On my side, according to ancient yet well kept and maintained Chinese genealogical records, the actual surname of my ancestor Gong-ya who lived during the time of First Emperor China is , (ji) (, accessed January 14, 2008). He was given the surname of Foo (; Fu) by Qin Shi Huang for his contributions as the Imperial Seal Keeper. According to genealogical records, I am the 70th on that list from him. Now the name, , (ji) happens to tally up with the latest research finding of Mao's original surname, also (ji) (, accessed January 14, 2008). His ancestors later assumed the name of Mao as reflecting the place of their country of origin ().

So, you can imagine how excited I am about any plans for research studies investigating possible relationships of genes, DNA and Chinese genealogy with any aspect of management. I am citing my own case to illustrate just how deeply rooted the documentation of Chinese history can be. Perhaps, an immensely rich database: comprising of series of names, personalities and achievements recorded not just for hundreds but, in my case at least, as long as more than 2,500 years (or according to one Chinese authority I speak to, it is even longer!). For one thing, it makes you realize how interconnected we are even with our distant past. And also how what we do today may have impacts on people living many generations later!

Check Teck Foo

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