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A Chinese conception of ``management''---an interpretive approach (Singapore)

Siew Kim Lee, University of Massachusetts Amherst


To a large extent, management is perceived as a Western notion and is based on Western assumptions and norms. Most of our understanding of management came from the American experience. The problem lies in the assumption by these writers and researchers that what they think is true in the West, it is true for all cultures. This is a problem in cross-cultural management theory and practice.^ This study was an attempt to challenge the imperialism in cross-cultural management. It attempted to voice the Singaporean Chinese managers' conception of Chinese management through a Singaporean Chinese researcher using an interpretive approach.^ The specific purposes were to (1) discover Chinese managers' perception and definition of management; and (2) describe the way they manage.^ This study followed an interpretive paradigm of research and analysis which allows representation of the perspective of the participants. It aimed to reveal and reflect the world as it is. Metaphor was used as a means to understand how Chinese managers in Singapore perceived Chinese management and how they manage. Six interviewees from Singapore local Chinese organizations were selected for the study. Indepth interview was used as the research method.^ The research findings were presented through six stories and five scenes. Six stories (Chapter Four) were presented how they felt about Chinese management, their organizations and their managerial work. The five scenes (Chapter Five) were the interpretation and analysis of the "stories". Scene 1 focused on the Chinese managers' perception of the characteristics of Chinese management. Scene 2 contrasted the differences between Western management and Chinese management. Scene 3 highlighted the dilemma of the old and young generations and the dilemma in integrating Western and Chinese management. Scene 4 presented four metaphors and a meta-metaphor that capture the conceptions of Chinese management. Scene 5 presented five metaphors that describe the work of Chinese managers.^ The research findings were discussed in relation to the literature. Implications for Singaporean Chinese managers, management educators, organizational theorists, cross-cultural studies and future research were presented. ^

Subject Area

Management|Business education

Recommended Citation

Lee, Siew Kim, "A Chinese conception of ``management''---an interpretive approach (Singapore)" (1987). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8805944.