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Labour and Management in Development


Jour nal
east asia

Volume 2, Number 10

E
Management education and
development in China: a research
note

Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey


99-2

Asia Pacific Press at the


AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY
http://ncdsnet.anu.edu.au
Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

Asia Pacific Press 2002

This work is copyright. Apart from those uses which may be permitted under the Copyright
Act 1968 as amended, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission
from the publisher.

ISSN 14436698
ISBN 0 7315 3689 4

Agnes Lau is Senior Lecturer at Northern Territory University, Darwin.


Bet Roffey is Associate Professor at Flinders University, Adelaide.

Abbreviations
MBA Master of Business Administration

Labour and Management in Development Journal, Volume 2, Number 10 2


Asia Pacific Press 2002
Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

Since the late 1970s, the government of orientations between the foreign educators
China has aggressively sought international and Chinese managerial students is also
assistance to overcome the critical shortage provided, highlighting the impact of this
of management resources. China identified difference on the potential effectiveness of
a lack of management education programs imported management programs. Finally,
as one of the major obstacles in its endeavour the article presents an approach to
towards modernisation. Efforts over more developing culturally sensitive management
than two decades have resulted in a education and development programs.
mushrooming of academic management
education and executive training programs Effectiveness of imported
originated from, or in partnership with, management education and
foreign countries (McGugan 1995). It is
development programs in China
hoped that as a result of learning from a
variety of countries and approaches, a Much has been written in recent years about
management education, training and the economic and global development of
development system which serves Chinas China and the business opportunities
own needs will emerge. In recent years, available for multinational enterprises based
however, uncertainties have developed with in advanced economies. Staffing is
regard to the effectiveness of these considered to be a major challenge facing
imported programs in the Chinese context. these enterprises operating in China. The
Given the historical tendency towards matter is given the greatest consideration by
Western ethnocentricity in formal the enterprises, particularly in relation to the
management education programs, foreign positions of chief executive officers and
management educators risk being accused senior-level managers. However, there are
of pedagogical imperialism in their efforts widespread difficulties associated with
to assist Chinas development. culture and tradition of both expatriate and
This article examines these uncertainties local Chinese managers. These difficulties
and argues that cultural factors have constrain the managers understanding and
impeded Chinese managers learning of acceptance of business and social practices
management theories and techniques which that differ from those of their own countries,
were originally developed in the Western resulting in conflicts in values, attitudes,
cultural context. It identifies those interests and organisational behaviours
distinctive cultural characteristics which among expatriate and local Chinese
dominate the learning of management managers and employees.
values, attitudes and practices in China, and These problems in turn generate other
explores how these in turn shape Chinese human resource and strategic management
views of management education and problems; in job design, leadership,
development. An analysis of the cultural motivation, performance and productivity
difference in teaching and learning improvement, and organisational

Labour and Management in Development Journal, Volume 2, Number 10 3


Asia Pacific Press 2002
Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

development. Problems of this nature are Foreign educators and cultural


wide-ranging and significantly impede the discrepancy
multinational enterprises operating in
China. There are reports of increasing Current literature on management
attention being given by these enterprises education and development programs in
in providing their expatriate managers in China largely reports problems associated
China with pre-departure training, with a with cultural discrepancy in these
view to adapting to the Chinese-ness of the imported programs (Pun 1990, Bu and
local managers and employees (Child 1994, Mitchell 1992, Siu 1992, Joynt and Warner
Joynt and Warner 1996, Hickson 1997, Haley 1996, Lau et al. 2000). The discrepancy lies
2000). However, the tremendous task of between the teaching and learning process
training more than seven million Chinese of the content of these programs on the one
administrators to be effective managers in hand, and Chinese national characteristics
the public, private, joint-venture or on the other. Examples of management
international sectors of China, most of theories, program designs and instructional
whom have no formal management methods being imported and applied in
education and training or professional China with little or no adaptation by the
qualifications beyond high school, remains foreign educators are not uncommon. The
a major challenge in the countrys global nature of management, managerial
development (Bu and Mitchell 1992, activities, classroom culture, decision
McGugan 1995, Warner 1993, Lu and making in the curriculum and learning
Bjorkman 1997). design, teaching material and teaching staff
quality, participation and direction in the
Extensive studies have been conducted
learning process, and the learning climate
by prominent researchers in cross-cultural
and pedagogy practices of this nature often
and international management and
totally neglect the Chinese cultural element.
management-education research, such as
The result may be misunderstanding and
Hofstede (1983, 1993, 1997), Adler (1983),
ineffective learning, which defeats the
Ronen and Shenkar (1985), Schein (1988),
overall purpose of these programs.
Warner (1993), Child (1994) and Lu and
Bjorkman (1997). These studies have been Nearly two decades ago, Hofstede first
mainly concerned with analysing cross- cautioned that the convergence of
cultural issues (in terms of barriers, management will never come. What we can
problems, opportunities and effects) and bring about is an understanding of how the
advising on options for addressing these culture affects our thinking differently from
issues. The limited volume of literature on other peoples thinking and what this means
the development of management education for the transfer of management practices and
in China reflects the fact that the countrys theories (Hofstede 1983:39, see also 1993,
management research and training is still at 1997). Hofstedes identification of the
a basic stage of development. reciprocal interaction between culture, and

Labour and Management in Development Journal, Volume 2, Number 10 4


Asia Pacific Press 2002
Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

managerial mindset remains true today in without the benefit of cross-cultural


China. The cultural difference in teaching knowledge and skills, expatriate managers
and learning orientations between the are less effective than those who have
foreign educators and Chinese managerial received such training. A survey of cross-
students cannot be neglected. Unless this cultural and expatriate training literature of
discrepancy is addressed, the efforts of the the past decade, particularly those of the
foreign educators and consultants towards Asian and Pacific regions, reveals little
Chinas management and global evidence of expatriate educators having
development are likely to be ineffective. undertaken pre-departure cross-cultural
Attempts to discuss this in international training before being sent overseas to
management literature have focused on the educate the managers in a host country. This
discussions of the international environment indicates a shortage of expatriate educators
and skills expatriate executives require to who possess cross-cultural knowledge,
lead and manage their organisations understanding and skills. Just as such
successfully in host countries, or the type of understanding and skills are essential for
cross-cultural training necessary to facilitate expatriate managers, it is at least equally
the acquisition of these skills (Blunt and important that expatriate educators are
Richards 1993, Beamish et al. 1997, Haley cross-culturally proficient in their teaching,
2000, Lau et al. 2000, Mendenhall and Oddou thus enhancing the learning effectiveness of
2000). Included in the cross-cultural training host country students.
are issues such as understanding a host Literature related to the development of
countrys economic development, political management education in Asian countries
regime, national development, industrial has identified the growth in recent years of
policies and legal system; and skills business and management programs taught
development to enable the expatriate by overseas universities in these countries
managers to operate within a different (Pun 1990, Siu 1992, Bu and Mitchell 1992,
culture, history, value, social system and Haley 2000, Johnson 1991, Khatri 2000, Lau
language. The importance of such training et al. 2000, Warner 1993, Whiteley et al. 2000).
as a means of facilitating effective cross- In China, the Master of Business
cultural interactions to enhance Administration (MBA) has been widely
international business success is widely considered as the most recognised and
acknowledged in the research literature. prestigious management degree
The focus of cross-cultural training (Micklethwait 1996). China has imported
literature has been on expatriate managers MBA programs from universities in the
(Warner 1992, Child 1994, Joynt and Warner United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and
1996, Tung 1996, Hickson 1997, Khatri 2000). other Western countries, taught by foreign
There are widespread reports that cross- educators at business or management schools
cultural education is essential for managers in universities. It is an environment in which
to work in overseas countries successfully. teaching and learning often fail because of
There is also increasing evidence that, problems associated with cross-cultural

Labour and Management in Development Journal, Volume 2, Number 10 5


Asia Pacific Press 2002
Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

differences. The costs of failed cross-cultural lack of student participation in class


encounters between foreign educators and activities, such as communication and
Chinese managerial students are significant. feedback in lectures, or such active learning
While there is extensive demand in the techniques as group discussions, case
country for Western MBA degrees, there is studies or role-plays, all of which are
also a strong view that these degrees are considered by foreign educators as being
inadequate in addressing the values, needs essential components of both the content
and expectations of both Chinese managers and method of management education and
and the business environment in China. training. In addition, there is an
incompatibility of interests between the
Cross-cultural proficiency foreign educators and the Chinese faculty
considerations and its administrative support system. The
literature, however, having identified the
Commentators on the operation and type of problems associated with foreign
improvement of Western MBA degrees in educators, is unclear about what kind of
China often focus on areas such as improvements are necessary for change.
curriculum design, teaching materials, More importantly, the process of change or
student sources, quality of teaching staff, how foreign educators can be developed to
and employment of management graduates enhance teaching quality is unclear.
(Boisot and Fiol 1987, Pun 1990, Black and
The problems indicated above reflect that
Mendenhall 1992, Siu 1992, Bu and Mitchell
the underlying causes are cross-cultural and
1992, Haley 2000). Emphasis is placed on the
are due to one set of cultural values (the
need to develop these areas to suit the needs
foreign educators) being given precedence
of Chinese managerial students. In the area
over another. It appears that the majority of
of foreign educator quality, the following
foreign university educators, who may have
main concerns are cited
been well qualified and experienced in their
educators difficulties in understanding teaching disciplines, are either unaware of
the nature of management and or unconcerned about the impact of national
managerial activities in China
cultural factors which characterise the
educators inabilities to combine environments of management learning and
knowledge of foreign theories with development in China. While they attempt
Chinas present management to educate Chinese managers, they are not
environment
attuned to the nature of Chinese
dogmatic adaptation of the Western management, the traditional Chinese
approach to teaching management in pedagogy and classroom culture, or their
China. students beliefs and attitudes towards
It is suggested that foreign educators foreign experts and assistance from the West.
often experience difficulties in identifying This lack of awareness, in turn, affects the
those Western management concepts and interaction and relationship between these
techniques which are truly useful and foreign educators and their students, and the
important for Chinese students. There is a quality of their teaching.

Labour and Management in Development Journal, Volume 2, Number 10 6


Asia Pacific Press 2002
Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

Chinese management educators (Deng effectiveness. This means that a foreign


and Wang 1992, Yuen and Lee-Seok 1994, management educator in China has to be
Lau et al. 2000) suggest the following ways able to identify both the cultural
of addressing these awareness problems assumptions of the Chinese managerial
a thorough learning-needs analysis can students, as well as his or her own cultural
be conducted to ensure that MBA content assumptions. The educator has to be able to
is relevant to the needs of Chinese interpret Chinese beliefs and values
managerial students correctly and understand situations and
lectures can be prepared and organised issues as the Chinese students do if teaching
with the needs of the students in mind effectiveness is to be achieved. It is one thing
to understand intellectually that Chinese
use of culturally-bound exercises, case
studies and other teaching materials are students may have different beliefs and
to be avoided values, but understanding this
behaviourally in a way that affects ones
discussions can be encouraged, so that
teaching is not easy.
Chinese students can explore and refine
ideas that are relevant to them Research literature abounds with reports
experiential learning approaches can be of expatriate managers experiencing value
used to allow students to express their conflicts and uncertainties in cross-cultural
own cultural values, and to allow for encounters (Johnson 1991, Child 1994, Harris
more effective transfer of learning in the and Moran 1996, Jackson and Bak 1998, Lau
workplace. et al. 2000). So, what are the basic cultural
dimensions that cause cultural conflicts
However, unless these foreign educators
between the foreign educators and Chinese
understand well the cross-cultural
managerial students? Which aspects of
differences both in what is being (and should
Chinese culture are expected to have some
be) taught and how it is being (and should
bearing upon managerial learning? And
be) taught in China, it is likely that classroom
how do these cultural aspects affect the way
content, methods and the interaction and
Chinese managers learn? What influence do
relationship between educator and students
cultural values have on the teaching
will still be dominated by the educators
dynamics involving the foreign educators on
cultural values. one hand, and the learning outcomes of the
Chinese managers on the other?
Cultural characteristics in the
learning and practice of management Basic cultural dimensions
values, attitudes and behaviours in At this point it is important to identify those
basic cultural dimensions which influence
China
the way Chinese managers learn. In his
The previous sections of this paper have influential and widely-quoted work,
argued that expatriate educators must Hofstede (1983, 1993, 1997) identified four
internationalise their teaching to achieve cultural dimensions

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Asia Pacific Press 2002
Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

power distance, which measures the way Japan and South Korea, Hofstede and Bond
a particular society handles inequality argue that the values negatively associated
among people. Western societies tend to with Confucian Dynamismnamely
play down inequality as much as personal steadiness and stability, protecting
possible. Other societies and cultures
your face, respect for tradition [and]
accept and support large imbalances in
reciprocation of greetings, favors and gifts
power, status and wealth.
(Hofstede and Bond 1988:17)constrain
uncertainty avoidance, which looks at innovation, adaptation of Western
how a society deals with future
technology, and entrepreneurial risk-taking
uncertainty. A society with a weak
uncertainty avoidance does not feel and initiative. The sampling and
threatened by uncertainty and is methodological constraints of the Hofstede
generally tolerant and secure about the and Bond study (100 students from each
future. Strong uncertainty avoidance country), however, preclude definitive
cultures try to overcome future inferences about the link between
uncertainties by developing institutions Confucian Dynamism, economic growth,
that create security and avoid risk. and management education.
The individualism versus collectivism Other conceptual frameworks have been
dimension, which measures an
created to assist in the task of objective
individuals relationships with other
cultural analysis and comparison (see, for
people and the degree to which the desire
for personal freedom is played off against example, Smith et al. 1997, Trompenaars and
the need for social ties. HampdenTurner 1993, 1997). In this paper,
however, the cultural dimensions developed
masculinity defines a society if there are
extensive divisions of social roles by by Hofstedeparticularly the power
gender. A society is feminine if these distance dimension and the uncertainty
divisions are relatively small. avoidance dimensionare used to examine
ways in which Chinese managerial students
In addition to Hofstedes original four
learn.
dimensions, additional research by Hofstede
and Bond (1988), in a 22-country Chinese Hofstedes cultural dimensions have
Value Survey of students in a range of important bearings on how foreign
disciplines, identified a culture-bound educators teach in China and how Chinese
dimension of Confucian Dynamism. The students learn. A real-life classroom example
values associated with Confucian which often puzzles foreign educators, is
Dynamism included the relative why the majority of Chinese students seem
importance of persistence (perseverance), unresponsive and uninvolved. Is it only
ordering relationships by status and because of the language barrier, or are the
observing this order, thrift, [and] having a students unprepared for the class? The
sense of shame (Hofstede and Bond educators assumption that students should
1988:17). In linking high scores on their be responsive and involved in the class is
Confucian Dynamism scale with the strong based on an implicit preference for the
economic growth in Hong Kong, Taiwan, democratic, participative teaching approach

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Asia Pacific Press 2002
Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

which is widely practised in democratic (1999) reveal that the Confucian tradition has
Western societies. While the approach is a concern for the correct and well-mannered
appropriate for teaching students of a conduct of ones duties, based on a sound
culture which is democratic (low in power respect for the social conventions of a
distance), this approach may not necessarily patrimonial system. It stresses order,
be effective within a more authoritarian hierarchy, quality of relationships and
(high in power distance) society like China. obligation to social collectivities, especially
the family. Age is respected, particularly in
Chinese cultural values which influence the case of male heads-of-family, while
student learning education is also valued as the means of
In the traditional Chinese pedagogy, achieving a better social status, which in turn
students develop mastery of principles reflects well on the family.
through repeated indoctrinations and rote- Four Confucian values have been
learning (Child 1994, Rarick 1995, Tung 1996, identified as having particular relevance for
Pan and Hyu 1998). Classroom activities are management in China: age and hierarchy,
dominated by teachers lectures with little groups, face, and relationships. We argue
opportunity for students to question and that the first three of these cultural values
discuss. Students are not trained to express have similar relevance to Chinese
opinions in the presence of authority figures. managerial students in their learning
Achievement is assessed almost entirely process. These values constitute an
through written examinations which are not important explanation of why Chinese
designed to test students abilities to work managerial students expect to be led by the
with other people or solve practical
foreign educators, tend to accept theories
problems. Commentators on management
presented to them uncritically, largely
education and development in China (Bu
neglect the development of problem-solving
and Mitchell 1992, Deng and Wang 1992,
ability in real-life situations or are not
Ernest 1993, Warner 1993, Aragone 1996)
participative. They may be expected to
emphasise that in teaching business and
impact on management education in a
management disciplines, Chinese students
number of ways.
are imbued with doctrines in much the same
way as students 100 years ago were taught Respect for age and hierarchy. Chinese
Confucian classics. managerial students will use these
Confucian values to clarify their position
Various authorities on Chinese culture in the teacher/student hierarchy. This
have put forward different lists of key will favour a hierarchy of centralised
elements which are likely to have a decisionmaking.
particular bearing on management. There is, Orientation towards groups. Chinese
however, wide agreement that the culture is managerial students, as members of the
derived primarily from Confucianism. extended family or workgroup which
Studies by Child (1994), Rarick (1995),Tung forms the basic social unit, are expected
(1996), Pan and Hyu (1998) and Fukuda to maintain harmonious relationships. In

Labour and Management in Development Journal, Volume 2, Number 10 9


Asia Pacific Press 2002
Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

this, the foreign educator symbolises the experiential, hands-on approach. Foreign
father or leader figure which provides the educators in China who attempt a
standard for learning to be accepted facilitators role in this approach can meet
without challenge. with resistance from Chinese students.
The preservation of face. Chinese Hofstedes study revealed that Chinese
managerial students attach importance to workers (or managers) have a strong need
the views others hold of them far more for uncertainty avoidance and a wish to be
than may be expected in other cultures. told what is right and wrong in their
Questioning the teacher s wisdom,
practices. The Chinese students would have
challenging others views in discussions
an expectation of being lectured to by an
or proposing deviations carry the risk of
losing others or the foreign educators authoritative and authoritarian figure.
face. Such behaviour is culturally Open-ended theories and open-ended
inhibited. Likewise, avoiding conflicts teaching strategies, which are used to
helps to preserve their own face. develop good solutions rather than correct
These traditional cultural values can have ones, can be seen by these students as an
consequences, not only in learning abdication of the educators responsibility.
effectiveness but also in the professional
Characteristics of the Chinese learner
development of the Chinese managerial
It appears that in a cross-cultural setting, the
students. It is reasonable to assume that
relevance of a teaching approach and its
these learning characteristics will reinforce
impact on the learners behaviour is a great
the students traditional practices, despite
deal more significant than the dynamics
their attempts to learn to become global and
within the teaching and learning process in
more effective managers practising in China.
a non-cross-cultural setting.
Child (1994) argues that the specific
attributes of the Confucian values can cause In our experiences in educating managers
problems for the improvement and reform from different cultures, we have observed
of Chinese management in numerous ways: several major learning characteristics among
Chinese managerial students and have
by reinforcing the hierarchical and
conformist characteristics of the top- sought to compare these with our experience
down command structure of Western management students. Our
observations are consistent with those
by presenting difficulties for the
described in existing literature, and were
development of individual responsibility
confirmed by our discussions with Chinese
by discouraging individual initiative and academics and others who have been
evaluation of personal performance
involved in management programs in
by avoiding conflict and preserving China. These distinctive characteristics are
harmony, for the sake of preserving face. presented in Figure 1, in the contexts of two
Management teaching and learning in of Hofstedes cultural dimensions: the
Western societies have been moving from power distance dimension and the
teacher-centred lecturing to a much more uncertainty avoidance dimension, as a

Labour and Management in Development Journal, Volume 2, Number 10 10


Asia Pacific Press 2002
Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

comparison between the learning eager to learn not only the contents but also
behaviours of Western and Chinese the methods of modern management
managers. education. Successful experience of adapting
This comparison highlights the cultural active learning techniques to the
differences between Western and Chinese characteristics of Chinese managerial
managerial learners. The differences impact students has been documented by several
on the learners vastly different thinking Western educators who have made a
patterns, learning approaches and their concerted effort to explore the matter
perceptions of the teachers role. The cultural together with Chinese management
dimensions of power distance and educators (Deng and Wang 1992, Pan and
uncertainty avoidance help explain what Hyu 1998, Haley 2000, Whiteley et al. 2000).
these learners value and why they behave the Despite the recognised difficulties and the
way they do in their learning process. More mixed results achieved so far, the combined
importantly, this comparison signals that a effort of these foreign and local management
significant cultural gap exists between educators in China can serve as a stimulus
foreign educators and their Chinese students. to follow-up studies in these areas. The
following are adaptations commonly
articulated by them.
Bridging the cultural gap
Teaching at a pace appropriate to the
What should foreign educators do when Chinese students. For example, the
faced with value-laden Chinese students to educator moves along the continuum
whom much of the Western management from teacher-centred learning (such as
teaching and learning theories, if not lectures), through discussion, then to
incomprehensible, certainly appear more experiential learning where the
irrelevant? A starting point seems to be an students own values are not only
awareness, derived from knowledge expressed, but also become the basis for
acquired from carefully designed programs the learning which takes place.
of cross-cultural education and Classroom discussion, student
development. A declared awareness of the presentation, project and case analysis
cross-cultural differences may enable the can be potentially viable teaching tools,
educators to modify their attitude, especially to the Chinese students who
knowledge or skill behaviour in their have prior experience, provided that the
materials used are realistic within the
teaching practices, rather than single-
Chinese context.
mindedly adopt a Western approach which
reflects their own value systems. Integrating active teaching methods into
the Chinese management programs is
In the literature on management considered necessary in order to develop
education in China, where there are reports the skills of active and critical enquiry
of student reluctance or difficulty in among Chinese students who are faced
adapting to Western ideals, there are also with increasingly challenging tasks of
indications that Chinese managers are now management.

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Asia Pacific Press 2002
Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

Figure 1 Learning characteristics of managerial students

Western managerial students Chinese managerial students

POWER DISTANCE
Degree of teacher authority
Seek informal relationship and integrate Seek formal relationship with teacher,
with teacher expect teacher to be solemn, paternalistic
(strict) and view informality as laziness

Equate teacher to a resource who Equate teacher to having a paternal


is someone outside the students intimate role within the students intimate circle
circle

Moderate degree of respect towards teacher High degree of respect towards teacher

Question teachers wisdom and only Accept teachers wisdom without


accept learning points which are found question and expect teacher to provide
appropriate learning points

Prefer to have a say in learning design, Accept the rulings of the expert
content and delivery (teacher)

View teacher as a facilitator who View teacher as an expert who bestows


provides direction and guidance wisdom and shares experience with
on mapping out student learning student

Authority in learning process


Believe that everyone has equal chance Believe that teachers are decisionmakers
to be a decisionmaker

Believe that decisions should be made Believe that decisions should be made
by those who are involved by those who have the appropriate
experience

Like making decisions and mutually Entrust decisions affecting them to


agreeing learning goals/devices expert, and accept learning goals set by
with teacher teacher

Believe that decisions be made by those Prefer teacher make the decisions for them
who are being affected, as learning
outcomes affect them

Labour and Management in Development Journal, Volume 2, Number 10 12


Asia Pacific Press 2002
Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

Figure 1 Learning characteristics of managerial students

Western managerial students Chinese managerial students

UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE
Involvement in learning process
Consider learning design provided Consider learning comes directly from
by teacher brings about significant teacher, not from learning design
learning

Prefer non-directed approach Prefer teacher-directed approach

Readily accept that learning takes place Unable to accept that learning takes
through own discussions and constructions place, even if discussions have provided
insights

Strong preference for learning Uncomfortable with having to seek


through participation and involvement own answers through discussions
in discussions

Self-direction in learning
Prepared to search for direction and accept Do not welcome freedom given to make
ambiguity own choices or map out own direction
of learning

Comfortable with no set syllabus or content See teachers role as


outline, so long as broad program objective determining learning structure, content,
is provided syllabus and learning points

Learning behaviours
Dynamic, seek critical analysis and open Receptive, needing agreement, support
questioning of ideas and conflicting views; and assurance of shared ideas;
favour the critical teacher favour the nurturing teacher approach

Able to break the whole into parts with Make generalisations which may
clarity and objectivity be inappropriate, lack clarity and mixed
with subjectivity

Prefer analytical learning, critical Prefer descriptive learning; tendency to


examination of theories in order to develop avoid critical examination or taking a stand
own theories in analysis

Critical of theories Receptive and strong with theories and


can memorise them

Developed in abstract learning rather Developed in concrete learning rather


than concrete learning than abstract learning

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Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

Acknowledge the cultural tendencies (as examining the cultural issues associated
displayed in Figure 1) of the Chinese with the transfer of Western management
students in ritualistic behaviours such as: techniques to Chinese management,
saving face by not contradicting others; culturally-sensitive management education
being obedient to the teacher; and training programs can be developed for
experiencing discomfort in relating and
Chinese managers practising in China.
interacting with those other than their
same rank; a reluctance to communicate The framework of the study incorporates
learning difficulties; and motivation five broad categories of variables, which
towards theorising rather than abstract characterise the environments of
thinking. management education and development in
Be sensitive to Chinese students feelings China. These are
of managerial and technological cultural characteristics of Chinese
inferiority, which co-exist with their managementChinese managers
eagerness to learn from the industrialised concept of management; tasks, skills and
economies. knowledge required of Chinese
Allocate more time and energy to managers; distinctive cultural
planning and preparation, which calls for characteristics which dominate
substantial adjustment of both the managerial thinking and behaviour.
content and methods of teaching used in cultural views of management
Western societies; for example, classroom educationthe existing educational
group processes and communication pattern relative to management; what is
patterns. being taught, how it is being taught, and
Relate specific topics and techniques to how Chinese students learn; Chinas
the bigger picture of management in commitment to management education.
China. cultural views of management
developmentdegree of importance;
Design of culturally-sensitive how Chinese managers are developed;
various techniques and constraints
management education which inhibit managerial development
Based on these insights, our continuing and transferability of Western
research focuses on developing culturally- management practices; national
strategies in research and development.
sensitive management education, training
and development for Chinese managers. cross-cultural differencescomparing
Chinese/Australian management
This research will identify and analyse education/development provisions; to
the cultural factors that influence what extent Western approaches to
management values, attitudes and practices management education are effective/
in China. It is believed that these factors may ineffective in Chinas transition to the
have impeded application of management market and global economy.
theories and techniques which were culturally-sensitive management
originally developed in the Western cultural programs for managers of China
context. It is expected that through analysis of current and future education/

Labour and Management in Development Journal, Volume 2, Number 10 14


Asia Pacific Press 2002
Management education and development in China Agnes Lau and Bet Roffey

development needs of managers in Beamish, P.W., Morrison, P. and


China, and design of, and approaches to, Rosenzweig, M., 1997. International
suitable programs to be conducted in Management: text and cases, Irwin,
Australia and/or in China. Chicago.
Black, J.S. and Mendenhall, M., 1992. Global
Conclusion Assignments: successfully expatriating and
repatriating international managers, Jossey
This paper has emphasised that imported Bass, San Francisco.
management education programs to China
Blunt, P. and Richards, D., 1993. Readings in
are still in the growth stages, necessitating Management, Organisation and Culture,
sensitivity and adaptation to the cultural NTU Press, Darwin.
tendencies of Chinese managerial students. Boisot, M. and Fiol, M., 1987. Chinese boxes
As Chinas international business activities and learning cubes: action learning in a
grow, the demand for executives with cross cultural context, Journal of
international business and management Management Development, 6(2):818.
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