How did Confucianism affect culture?

Leadership in China. The traditional Chinese leadership style

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 basics
2.1 Definition of the term "leadership"
2.2 Definition of the term "culture"
2.3 Influence of the national culture on the management style

3 The Chinese leadership style
3.1 Influencing factors
3.1.1 Influence of Confucius' teaching on the Chinese leadership style
3.1.2 Influence of communism on the Chinese leadership style
3.1.3 Formation of Hofstede's five cultural dimensions in the Chinese area
3.2 Characteristics of the Chinese leadership style
3.2.1 Motivation of Chinese employees
3.2.2 Communication
3.2.3 Conflict Rules
3.2.4 Decisions
3.2.5 Control
3.2.6 Criticism and recognition

4 conclusion

1 Introduction

At the end of the 1970s, China slowly opened up to the western industrialized nations. The interest of the western population but also of the western economy was great, since for a long time China was almost isolated from the outside and only little information reached the western world. Due to the strong economic growth and the increasing opening of China to the outside world, there was a large wave of investments by Western companies in China at the beginning of the 1990s, which was soon followed by a phase of disillusionment, as numerous projects, especially joint ventures, failed. The main reason for this was intercultural differences (cf. Vogl, 2001). Especially in the area of ​​joint ventures, where close cooperation between Chinese and Western companies is very important, cross cultural management is becoming extremely important for success. The prerequisite for the smooth cooperation of two cultures and the resulting success is, however, that one knows the other culture (cf. Kumar & Wagner, 1998). This aspect is particularly important in the context of employee management, which consequently requires that Western companies know the traditional Chinese management style in order to be able to lead their Chinese employees and to better understand their behavior.

In the context of this work, the special features of the Chinese leadership style are to be explained in more detail, in which the influencing factors on the Chinese leadership style and then its characteristics are explained in the first section.

2 basics

2.1 Definition of the term "leadership"

First of all, the term leadership should be defined. Leadership means influencing the behavior of employees in such a way as to achieve a desired goal. In order to influence behavior in the desired way, it is important to know the values, needs, motivators and other influences on behavior. The factors influencing behavior vary for each individual employee. In the context of this work, however, the focus should be on the general consideration of groups, cultures and countries. (Keeley, 2001).

2.2 Definition of the term "culture"

The term “culture” encompasses the values ​​of a society that shape the feelings, thoughts and actions of its members. According to Hofstede, culture is the collective programming of human thinking, which consists of commonalities in values, attitudes and behavior of the inhabitants of a cultural area (cf. Kutschker & Schmid, 2002).

A particular culture evolves and changes over time as it is a dynamic process. It creates identity and creates a feeling of togetherness among its members, who are mostly unaware of the cultural aspects. Rather, the members of a culture act unconsciously according to their values ​​and their feelings. They consider their actions and thoughts to be normal. If you meet members of other cultures who in turn act according to their values, conflicts can arise (Kammhuber & Liang, 2004).

2.3 Influence of the national culture on the management style

The influence of the national culture on the management of employees was only established at the beginning of the eighties, when the thesis that human work behavior is linked to culture was confirmed by cross-cultural management research. This thesis was controversial for a long time. However, it ultimately replaced the universal thesis, which transferred the same leadership styles to different cultures, as many projects failed due to intercultural conflicts. In particular, employee-related components of corporate management revealed a high degree of cultural dependency (Stahl, 1998). Due to this influence of culture, the behavioral influencing of employees by the manager requires a necessary understanding of the values, needs and motivators, since the employees understand the leadership according to their needs and prefer certain leadership styles. Hence, a leadership style that seems appropriate in one culture may be ineffective or even inappropriate in another (Keely, 2001).

This is proven by a survey conducted by the scientist Laurent in 1983, in which he found, in particular, large differences in the self-image of executives from different countries. For example, managers from southern Europe, in contrast to those from northern Europe, believed that they should not show any weaknesses in front of employees. This view corresponds to the patriarchal leadership style.

The far-reaching consequences for the relationship between employees and superiors and their expectations resulting from this influence of culture are obvious.

In order to better understand the Chinese leadership style, the main features of Chinese culture and its influence on the management of Chinese superiors are presented in this thesis.

3 The Chinese leadership style

In order to understand the behavior of the Chinese and their way of leading employees, it is important to know the historical and cultural influence on this behavior. Therefore, in the following, the historical influencing factors of the leadership style will first be explained.

3.1 Influencing factors

Since leadership, as explained in the previous section, is understood as a process for influencing others, this process mainly influences personal values, personal background and personal environment. Therefore, in the following, the influence of Confucian teaching as a factor of personal values, communism as the background and the classification of Chinese culture based on the dimensions of Hofstede as an environment that influences management style are explained.

3.1.1 Influence of Confucius' teaching on the Chinese leadership style

The philosopher Confucius (551 - 479 BC) had a strong influence on Chinese society through his teachings. His doctrines of virtue are the instructions for behavior in the daily life of the Chinese so as not to endanger the harmony. This gave rise to a social understanding that has had serious effects on family life and working life in China to this day. It is mainly the elements of his teaching mentioned below that have had an impact on the management of Chinese employees.

The pronounced group orientation of the Chinese is an element of Confucian teaching. Individual responsibility or initiative is not very desirable for the Chinese. Much more important is the group to which a Chinese belongs and in which he has his permanent role. His behavior is adapted to the needs of the group and his role, so that individual wishes and needs take a back seat. Team work, decision-making processes and advice in groups and the recognition of group performance are reinforced by group incentives and the allocation of responsibility to entire groups. Employees make faster decisions within a group because they feel more secure when the whole group bears responsibility (cf. Satow & Wang, 1994).

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