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Paternalism Revisited: Organisational Leadership in mainland China
Siew-Huat Kong
Source PublicationInternational Journal of Chinese Culture and Management

This study is an attempt to understand the staying power of paternalistic leadership in the context of Chinese society and how it manifests itself in organisations there today. It seeks to understand the roots of this model of leadership in the domain of social-psychological legacies and reveals how it is perpetuated in mainland China. A recent exploratory study demonstrates how this pattern of authority sharing is colouring different facets of organisational life. Moreover, underlying assumptions identified in this investigation – the self-seeking individual, hierarchical social reality and the hostile environment – were found to enhance this form of leadership, which is marked by authoritarianism, arbitrariness, a unique form of dependency that is not nurtured at all, and over-dependent subordinates. Challenges, however, are now being mounted against this leadership mode but whether it can succeed or not is an open question. In the meantime, Chinese managers will have to be mindful of the fact that this leadership style might be well suited for organisations which require a less sophisticated workforce and are maintained by routine skills. However, they are not equipped to compete in a 'knowledge-intensive' industry and that they are hindering organisational learning or continuous improvement implicit in other management models.

KeywordChinese Culture Paternalism Organisational Leadership Continuous Improvement Authoritarianism Dependency Arbitrariness China Paternalistic Leadership Chinese Management Knowledge-intensive Industries Organisational Learning
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Document TypeJournal article
CollectionFaculty of Business Administration
AffiliationFaculty of Business Administration, University of Macau, P.O.Box 3001, Macau SAR, People Republic of China
First Author AffilicationFaculty of Business Administration
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GB/T 7714
Siew-Huat Kong. Paternalism Revisited: Organisational Leadership in mainland China[J]. International Journal of Chinese Culture and Management,2009,2(1).
APA Siew-Huat Kong.(2009).Paternalism Revisited: Organisational Leadership in mainland China.International Journal of Chinese Culture and Management,2(1).
MLA Siew-Huat Kong."Paternalism Revisited: Organisational Leadership in mainland China".International Journal of Chinese Culture and Management 2.1(2009).
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