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dc.contributor.advisorEverett, André
dc.contributor.advisorElkin, Graham
dc.contributor.advisorCone, Malcolm
dc.contributor.authorZhang, Haina
dc.identifier.citationZhang, H. (2011). Contemporary Leadership Approaches in Chinese Business: A Philosophical and Sociological Perspective (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractChina’s remarkable growth is seen as an economic phenomenon with impacts on the whole world. The distinctive Chinese context warrants focused research on leadership, in order to understand the uniqueness of Chinese leadership. However, the management literature, which has been constructed primarily in the Western context, is still characterized by relative paucity in knowledge about the Chinese business world. By addressing research gaps in the contextualization of leadership theories, this thesis, theorizing on Bourdieu’s sociology and Chinese philosophy, takes a process and integrative approach to investigate contemporary leadership located in the Chinese context, from a sociological and philosophical perspective. Traditional culture and philosophy are actively present in modern China. Confucianism, the essence of Chinese culture even today, provides a strong philosophical foundation for leadership practice. Proposing that Confucian values promote the application of paternalistic, charismatic, transformational, authentic, aesthetic, and pragmatic leadership in Chinese leaders’ daily practice, this thesis first empirically examines these leadership theories in the Chinese context, constituting the first purpose of this study. Extending from these empirical examinations, as a second purpose this research explores distinctive Chinese leadership behaviors and processes in these six leadership theories. The above research purposes are accomplished by case studies in eight small-to-medium-sized manufacturing Chinese enterprises (four private-owned enterprises, i.e., POEs and four state-owned enterprises, i.e., SOEs), with interviews, surveys, direct observation, and documents as primary data sources. Apart from offering deep insight into power relations and interactions of authoritarian, benevolent, and moral leadership in the paternalistic leadership model, findings from this research indicate that – in contrast with Western leadership theories – both similarities and distinctions are present in their Chinese counterparts. In particular, Chinese charismatic leaders with the appropriate virtues, devoid of any supernatural elements, are perceived as an integrated aesthetic example of human potential and an exemplar of successful practice; Chinese transformational leadership, denoting two mutually reinforcing processes (i.e., leaders’ transformational process and followers’ self-transformational process), is achieved through self-transcendence; Chinese authentic leaders not only concentrate on being authentic to ‘the self’, but also place even greater emphasis on being authentic to ‘the context’ in their daily practice; Chinese normative aesthetic leadership is explored and constructed from a value-rationality pragmatic perspective, in contrast to instrumental aesthetic leadership; and Chinese pragmatic leadership, challenging the instrumentalism in the existing literature, deploys a dynamic behavioral repertoire integrating multiple leadership approaches rather than a particular behavioral style. The plurality of models of leadership emphasizing Chinese value-rationality and pragmatic world views is constituted from a Chinese philosophical perspective in this thesis. This thesis contributes to the development of deeper understandings of leadership practices in Chinese organizations through contextualizing, developing, and re-establishing leadership theories in a particular and crucial business context. The Chinese path to modernization differs from Western experiences. Apart from the above contributions to the theoretical world, this thesis also facilitates the dialogue of civilizations and business in modernization by introducing local knowledge about the Chinese world.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
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dc.titleContemporary Leadership Approaches in Chinese Business: A Philosophical and Sociological Perspective
dc.typeThesis of Philosophy of Otago Theses
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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