Grounded in Heritage: An Exploration of Traditional Cultural Clusters in China – The Case of the Jingdezhen Porcelain Cluster
“Grounded in Heritage” is a Master’s project derived from part of the researcher’s Post-Graduate Diploma research based on the Jingdezhen porcelain cluster, which challenges Michael Porter’s “Competitive Advantage of Nations” model as well as investigating whether Western cluster theories are applicable to Chinese traditional cultural clusters, and how Chinese traditional cultural clusters will contribute to cluster research as a whole. Jingdezhen porcelain is an icon of Chinese traditional culture clusters, with a recorded history of over 2,200 years. “Chang Nan” – the ancient name of the city – was pronounced by foreign buyers as “china”, indicating the importance of the products of this cluster in creating the world’s image of China. In comparison, the earliest cluster example presented in Porter’s book Competitive Advantage of Nations (Porter, 1990) has a history of only about 400 years. When considering the duration of its history and the uniqueness of Chinese culture, deeper research into the Jingdezhen porcelain cluster is expected to contribute to the current body of knowledge regarding clusters. In order to reveal the characteristics of the entire porcelain cluster, including aspects such as the business environment, business network, business operations, coordination techniques, and production procedures, Grounded Theory is employed. Grounded Theory is considered to be the most rigorous suitable analysis method, freeing researchers from theoretical restrictions while aiming for a more holistic view of the research target. Research methods complementary to Grounded Theory were utilised for data collection: interviews, observation, field notes, and historiography. Due to the complexity of this project and the multiple research methods employed, the data is classified into divisions. The main data library for Grounded Theory is compiled from three streams of first hand data: interviews conducted in Beijing; interviews conducted in Jingdezhen; and field notes from both places. The data collected through historiography is subsumed into “extant literature” (see Figure 9). The three sets of data in the data library are inter-dependent and are coded separately; therefore, the examination of theoretical saturation is not only confirmed by its own stream, but also examined by data from historiography. Thirteen key categories arise from coding of the data. From these categories, nine distinctive figures are generated based on eight categories with the five remaining categories leading to five conceptual findings, all presented in Chapter Five. Due to the novel approach taken to Grounded Theory, this project also presents a contribution in the application of Grounded Theory in industry and cluster research, as well as combining a variety of research methods together with Grounded Theory. The findings extend but do not conflict with classic cluster literature, and include outcomes specific to the cluster examined. Limitations and potential future research are discussed at the end of this report.
Advisor: Everett, Andre
Degree Name: Master of Commerce
Degree Discipline: Management Department, Commerce Division
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Grounded Theory; Cluster Research; Traditional Culture
Research Type: Thesis