Expatriate Managers in China: Defining What it is to be “Effective”

By Daniel W. Lund.

Published by The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture, and Change Management: Annual Review

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The concept of managerial effectiveness is examined as it relates to a group of expatriate managers across China. Interview studies were conducted with the managers about their perceptions of effectiveness in general, their own managerial effectiveness, and the effectiveness of Chinese managers in China. The expatriates’ definitions of effectiveness were consistent with Western theories of effectiveness, while their assessment of their own managerial effectiveness in China and that of their Chinese counterparts tended to consider the substantial influence of traditional Confucian and contemporary Chinese cultural norms. The expatriates stressed the need to maintain relationship harmony in organizational contexts in order to achieve managerial effectiveness in China. The expatriates also expressed how the focus on relationships rather than regulations, processes, contracts, and strictly adhered-to business plans was in contrast to their Western-based education. The study suggests a need for Western-based management education to incorporate Confucian-influenced management theories of effectiveness in order to prepare managers for the cultural realities of managing in China.

Keywords: Expatriate, Managerial Effectiveness, China

The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management: Annual Review, Volume 12, 2012, pp.29-37. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 383.632KB).

Dr. Daniel W. Lund

Assistant Professor, College of Business, Alfaisal University, Riyadh, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Research Areas include: organizational socialization, international HRM, expatriate adjustment, intercultural management and training, Chinese and Western management, Young Chinese entrepreneurs, Organizational and managerial effectiveness and commitment.