Executive Development in China: Is there any in a Western sense?

Amy Wong-Shaw, James Slater

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    54 Citations (Scopus)


    A recurring theme in the literature on Chinese management has been the impact of culture and, in particular, the influence of values derived from Confucianism on Chinese management practices. The reforms that led to foreign direct investment (FDI), the problems of State-owned enterprises (SOEs), the social, political and economic changes and analyses of Chinese managerial styles and performance have been the major concerns. There has been less attention specifically paid to Chinese managers' characteristics and to managerial career patterns, which may be shaped by national culture and values. In contrast, in the West, there is a vast body of literature covering career theories and managerial growth, dealing variously with personal values and other factors, such as family upbringing, education, social background and employment structure, that have major impacts on managers' career pathways. This paper explores how far executive career development in modern China (PRC) corresponds to Western notions, and also tries to determine whether there are specific factors relating to Chinese executives' personal biographies and career paths. A pilot study was carried out to identify the variables that might shed light on career patterns and, if possible, to profile the Chinese manager. A number of emergent themes are described. They derive from the experience of individual interviewees who took part in the pilot research, which was conducted in Beijing and Shanghai and in which forty-nine managers in forty-two companies were interviewed. These pilot interviews revealed a complex interplay of biographical data and career themes. Of clear importance was the guanxi mechanism (direct or indirect personal relationship to solicit favours) which has no exact comparison in the West and which does not figure in Western career theories. A preliminary tentative Chinese executive career model has been developed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)338-360
    Number of pages23
    JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2002


    • training
    • guanxi mechanism
    • Chinese employment structure
    • recruitment and selection
    • Confucian values
    • career theory


    Dive into the research topics of 'Executive Development in China: Is there any in a Western sense?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this