Knowledge Management in the Chinese Business Context

Knowledge Management in the Chinese Business Context

Maris G. Martinsons (City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong) and Robert M. Davison (City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-931-1.ch066


With over a billion people living in the People’s Republic of China, it should not be surprising that Chinese businesses have traditionally relied on an abundance of low-cost labour. Indeed, China has become well-known for its labour-intensive economic activities, to the point of being nicknamed the “factory of the world” (Miyagawa & Yoshida, 2005). However, the Chinese business landscape has been undergoing a process of continuous and at times radical change. This change was sparked in 1978 by the economic reforms associated with the Open Door Policy (see Taylor, 2003, for an extensive review of the economic reforms and their impact) and has been fuelled more recently by China’s 2001 accession to the World Trade Organization. Economic activities planned and controlled by the state have been progressively supplanted by market-based competition. The emerging markets across most industrial and commercial sectors of the Chinese economy have typically stimulated rivalries between domestic enterprises and rivals with foreign funding and/ or management.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Wuli-Shili-Renli: The wuli-shili-renli (WSR) concept suggests that regularities in our objective world ( wuli - ??), the ways of seeing and doing ( shili - ??), and the patterns that underpin human relations ( renli - ??) constitute a differentiated whole that should be taken into account holistically and systematically when designing and employing appropriate methods to manage knowledge.

Deng Xiaoping: The paramount leader of China from 1978 to 1989 developed the concept of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” and initiated economic reforms in China. [Wikipedia: ]

Chinese Management: Management practices that reflect traditional Chinese cultural values and beliefs.

Collectivism: “The extent to which people are expected to stand up for themselves and to choose their own affiliations, or alternatively act predominantly as a member of a life-long group or organization” [Wikipedia: ].

Open Door Policy: The official post-1978 policy of the national government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) which aims to promote foreign trade and economic investment.

Power Distance: The extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations expect and accept that power is distributed unequally [Wikipedia: ].

In-Group: A closely linked group of people who work and/or socialise together. In-groups tend to be tightly cohesive, to share resources for the benefit of the in-group and to defend against the predatory actions of out-groups.

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