Preindustrial Patterns in Chinese Organizational Culture

Simon Ulrik Kragh

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    Chinese organizational culture is usually described as being influenced by Confucian social norms and unique to the country. The paper argues in contrast to this view that there are important cultural similarities between values and norms in organizations in China and other developing countries. It is suggested that China, like other developing countries, is in a process of industrialization but retains preindustrial social norms which shape social relations and organizational structures. The paper shows first that the morals of social distance and reciprocity which anthropologists have found to be constitutive of a large number of preindustrial communities also govern relationships within and between organizations in present-day China. The paper then turns to organizations in Africa and Latin America and it is shown that the same social morals structure behaviours in these two developing regions, suggesting that the cultural characteristics of Chinese organizations are not simply unique to this country but a set of preindustrial norms that industrializing countries have in common as a legacy of the past.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
    Issue number11
    Pages (from-to)2354-2373
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


    • Anthropology
    • China
    • Developing Countries
    • Gift Exchange
    • In/-groups/Out/-groups
    • Kinship
    • Organizational Behaviour

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