Chinese management research needs self-confidence but not over-confidence

Abstract

Chinese management research aims to contribute to global management knowledge by offering rigorous and innovative theories and practical recommendations both for managing in China and outside. However, two seemingly opposite directions that researchers are taking could prove detrimental to the healthy development of Chinese management research. We argue that the two directions share a common ground that lies in the mindset regarding the confidence in the work on and from China. One direction of simply following the American mainstream on academic rigor demonstrates a lack of self-confidence, limiting theoretical innovation and practical relevance. Yet going in the other direction of overly indigenous research reflects over-confidence, often isolating the Chinese management research from the mainstream academia and at times, even becoming anti-science. A more integrated approach of conducting Chinese management research is recommended. Specifically, it is recommended that researchers can focus on phenomena salient in China and follow rigorous scientific methods, as illustrated by a few exemplary studies using the Chinese context. In this way, Chinese management research can advance if it becomes more self-confident in its study and application but not over-confident.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Professor David Ahlstrom and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. Any errors that may remain are our own.

The research was partially supported by the Carlsberg Foundation’s Postdoctoral Fellowship in Denmark grant (No. CF15-0270), a project granted to the first author, and Chinese Natural Science Foundation Committee grant (No. 71372021), a project granted to the second author.

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Li, X., Ma, L. Chinese management research needs self-confidence but not over-confidence. Asia Pac J Manag 37, 481–498 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10490-018-9562-3

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Keywords

  • Management
  • Research
  • Anti-scientific
  • China
  • Self-confidence
  • Over-confidence
  • Rigor
  • Relevance
  • Scientific method