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DoingBusinessinthe21stCenturywiththeNewGenerationofChineseManagers.pdf

DoingBusinessinthe21stCenturywiththeNewGenerationofChineseManagers.pdf

Doing Business in the 21st Century with the New Generation of Chinese Managers: A Study of Generational Shifts in Work Values in China

Author(s): David A. Ralston, Carolyn P. Egri, Sally Stewart, Robert H. Terpstra and Yu Kaicheng

Source: Journal of International Business Studies , 2nd Qtr., 1999, Vol. 30, No. 2 (2nd Qtr., 1999), pp. 415-427

Published by: Published by: Palgrave Macmillan Journals on behalf of Academy of International Business.

Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/155320

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Doing Business in the 21st Century with

the New Generation of Chinese Managers:

A Study of Generational Shifts in Work

Values in China

David A. Ralston* UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA

Carolyn P. Egri** SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY

Sally Stewart*** UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG

Robert H. Terpstra***’ UNIVERSITY OF MACAU

Yu Kaicheng***** DALIAN UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY

Our goal is to develop a profile of Chinese managers, and in particular a profile of the New Generation of Chinese managers. The purpose for developing this profile is primarily to provide relevant information for non- Chinese business people, especi- ally Westerners, who plan to engage in business in China. This profile is based on measures of individual values (Individualism, Collectivism and Confucianism)

T he People’s Republic of China is an

economic giant among the nations

of the world. China’s Gross Domestic

Product (GDP) has grown at close to 10

per year from 1978 to 1997, and has in

relevant to China and business. Our findings suggest that the New Generation manager is more individualistic and more likely to act independently, while taking risks in the pursuit of profits. However, these New managers are, likewise, not forsaking their Confucian values. Thus, they may be viewed as crossverging their Eastern and Western influences, while on the road of modern- ization.

recent years grown to become the third

largest consumer economy in the world

(Davies, 1998; The Economist, 1994;

People’s Daily, 1998). Despite the proba-

bility of periodic corrections, most

JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS STUDIES, 30, 2 (SECOND QUARTER 1999): 415-428. 415

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THE NEW CHINESE MANAGER

observers predict this rapid growth will

continue. Thus, China should continue

to be of increasing importance to the

global marketplace. Concurrently, the

problems that Western businesses have

had in dealing with the communist-

influenced Chinese business ideology

are also well documented (Tung, 1988;

Weiss & Bloom, 1990). A widespread

concern is that doing business with

China will continue to be challenging

for Western businesses. Nonetheless,

the potential “wild card” in this game

may be the attitude of the young

Chinese business people as they

increasingly move into positions of

authority. Thus, one objective of this

paper is to study the values of Chinese

management with an emphasis on iden-

tifying a profile of the New Generation

of Chinese managers who will lead the

country in the coming millennium.

To develop this profile, we focus on

the Individualism, Collectivism and

Confucianism aspects of Chinese val-

ues. The relevance of Individualism,

Collectivism and Confucianism as

important aspects of societal values in

China, as well as being indicators of the

paradoxical struggle for modernization

while maintaining traditional values,

has been established (Boisot & Child,

1996; Bond, 1991; Ralston, Yu, Wang,

Terpstra & He, 1996; Redding, 1990;

Yang, 1988). Generation (age) is obvi-

ously our predicting independent vari-

able. However, our review of Chinese

history and empirical research indicates

that seven additional factors (gender,

education, geographic region of origin,

position level, company size, industry,

and geographic region of employment)

may also have an impact on individual

values (Child & Stewart, 1997; James,

1989). Consequently, we have included

these factors as potential covariates in

our analysis of the generational changes

in Chinese managerial values.

Accordingly, our primary objective is

to provide information that will be help-

ful to Western businesspeople who are

seeking to develop effective working

relationships with Chinese counterparts,

and who are trying to develop marketing

strategies for this enormous market.

Additionally, given that the theoretical

*David A. Ralston is the Michael F. Price Chair of International Business at the University of Oklahoma. His primary research interests focus on issues related to

cross-cultural management.

**Carolyn P. Egri is Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management at the Faculty of Business Administration at Simon Fraser University. Her research interests

include leadership, environmental and social issues, organizational power and poli-

tics, and organizational change and development.

*** Sally Stewart was formerly Head of the Department of Management Studies at the University of Hong Kong. She was educated at Oxford University. Her most recent

publication is “Whose Business Values?” published by Hong Kong University Press.

*** * Robert H. Terpstra is Professor of Finance at the University of Macau. His current research interests include cross-cultural studies in management and behavioral finance.

*** * *Yu Kaicheng is Professor of Organizational Behavior / Human Resource Management in the School of Management of the Dalian University of Technology, China. He is

also the Vice-Chairman of the China Behavioral Science Association.

The authors would like to thank Cynthia Pavett for her very helpful comments on a

previous draft of this paper.

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DAVID A. RALSTON, CAROLYN P. EGRI, SALLY STEWART, ROBERT H. TERPSTRA AND Yu KAICHENG

foundation of Chinese management theo-

ry is in the formative phase, primarily

due to China being a closed society for

the past half century (Stewart, 1994), a

secondary objective of this paper is to

provide insight on the values of Chinese

managers that may contribute to the on-

going development of a much-needed

theory of Chinese management practices,

as well as to current theories of cross-cul-

tural behavior (Bhagat & McQuaid, 1982;

Tung, 1981; Tung & Miller, 1990). We are

specifically interested in identifying the

generational impact on work values

attributable to the diverse stages in

Chinese history since the end of the Qing

Dynasty in 1911.

ASSESSING MANAGERIAL VALUES IN CHINA

In order to fully understand the busi-

ness environment of a national culture,

one also needs to consider important

within-culture differences (Schneider &

Barsoux, 1997). Thus, we examine here

the potential changes in managerial val-

ues across generations. Value differ-

ences between generations are due to a

variety of factors, with the most impor-

tant being societal objectives (Inglehart

& Carballo, 1997; Terpstra, 1978). Very

few countries in recent history have

experienced the number and magnitude

of societal changes that have occurred

in China since the Qing Dynasty. Many

of these changes were deliberately

designed to radically reshape beliefs

and attitudes which logically may have had marked influence on the values of

the Chinese workforce and, in particu-

lar, its managers.

The Republican Era (1911-1948) fol-

lowed the Qing Dynasty. During that

era, Confucianism flourished and a

Western presence was prominent in the

commercial areas such as Shanghai. The

Communist Consolidation Era (1949-

1965) which followed was epitomized

by violent purges against the educated,

and an attempt to supplant Confucian

ideals with Maoist/Leninist communist

doctrine. During that period, anything

Western was denigrated. The subse-

quent Great Cultural Revolution Era

(1966-1976) only served to intensify the

attacks initiated during the Communist

Consolidation. The Social Reform Era

(1977-present), initiated by Deng

Xiaoping, saw a movement back to

acceptance of Confucian values and

commerce with the West, including

some acceptance of the influence that

would come with this commerce

(James, 1989; Ladany, 1988; Laaksonen,

1988; Lin, 1995). The essence of the

evolution from the previous two periods

under Mao’s “work for the good of soci-

ety” philosophy can be captured by

Deng’s (1984, p.172) acknowledgement

that a “few flies” (i.e., Western influ-

ence) would likely come through the

open door, in the new and pragmatic

“to be rich is glorious” plan to modern-

ize China by the early twenty-first cen-

tury.

In the following paragraphs of this

section of the paper, we describe the

dependent variables (Individualism,

Collectivism and Confucianism values)

used to assess the changes in Chinese

work values, as well as present

hypotheses regarding the impact that

generation has upon exhibited levels of

Individualism, Collectivism and

Confucianism. Also, we briefly discuss

the seven demographic factors that we

identified as potential influences on

values in the China context.

The Dependent Variables

Individualism, Collectivism and

Confucianism. Individualism has been

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THE NEW CHINESE MANAGER

defined as a self-orientation that empha-

sizes self-sufficiency and control with

value being given to individual accom-

plishments. Conversely, Collectivism has

been defined as the subordination of per-

sonal goals to the goals of the (work)

group with an emphasis on sharing and

group harmony (Morris, Davis & Allen,

1994). However, it should be noted that

the “‘group” referenced in the

Collectivism definition is the in-group

which may include family, friends and/or

work associates (Triandis, Bontempo,

Villareal, Asai & Lucca, 1988).

Research spanning the past two

decades has identified the Individualism-

Collectivism continuum as perhaps the

best means to measure values differences

across cultures, especially between

Eastern and Western cultures (Ralston,

Holt, Terpstra & Yu, 1997; Triandis et al.,

1986; Tung, 1981; Yang & Bond, 1990).

Additionally, Triandis and colleagues

showed that Individualism and

Collectivism may be better viewed as

independent continua (Triandis et al.,

1988). The separated dimensions capture

the nuances lost by ” averaging” them in

with one another. Subsequent research,

while not conclusive, tends to support

the Triandis et al. perspective that

Individualism and Collectivism are better

viewed as separate dimensions (Egri,

Ralston, Murray & Nicholson, 1996;

Ralston, Nguyen & Napier, 1998). Thus,

in this study, we follow the Triandis per-

spective. Likewise, Confucianism has been a deep-rooted foundation of Chinese life for over 2,000 years. The Chinese Culture Connection (1987) identified Confucian work dynamism as a construct

that epitomizes Eastern values, and pro- vides an indication of the importance of Confucianism to all Asian societies, but

particularly to China.

Measurement of the dependent vari-

ables. The Schwartz Value Survey

(SVS) was selected as our measure of

these values because it meets two

important criteria. First, it is a globally

developed and validated measure of

individual values (including China.

Thus, unlike measures such as the

Hofstede dimensions, the SVS is rele-

vant at the individual level, as well as

being validated in China (Schwartz,

1992). Second, the SVS is a measure of

individuals’ personal core values, not

their present transient work behavior

values, as would also characterize the

Hofstede dimensions. In this study, we

are interested in projecting future work

behavior based on presently exhibited

values. Thus, it was important to use a

measure that taps into the enduring core

values of the individual that will be

reflected in their future, as well as pre-

sent work behavior, given the dynamic

and fluid business environment in

China.

Hypotheses of Generational Differences

There is no one generally accepted

way to segment groups by their age or

generation. However, Thompson and

Thompson’s (1990) review indicates that research generally agrees that most

of an individual’s values are entrenched

by one’s late-teens. Based on this frame- work of values formation, we reviewed

the political history of China during the

fifty year time period of this study to

identify a logical segmenting of subjects

based on China’s political orientation

during the subject’s youth. Thus, the New Generation of Chinese manager

group, who grew up mostly during the era of Social Reform (1977-present), is

comprised of subjects who are 40 years

old or younger. The Current Generation

of managers group is comprised of the

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DAVID A. RALSTON, CAROLYN P. EGRI, SALLY STEWART, ROBERT H. TERPSTRA AND Yu KAICHENG

41- to 51-years-old subjects, whose ado-

lescence occurred during the Great

Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The

Older Generation group is comprised of

subjects 52 years of age and older, who

experienced the Communist Consoli-

dation (1949-1965), as well as the subse-

quent GCR.

Recent Chinese history, in conjunc-

tion with values’ development theory,

argues for these three generation divi-

sions. However, given that the focus of

our study is on the New Generation of

Chinese managers, we present the

hypotheses as a comparison between

the New Generation and the two previ-

ous generations (Current and Older).

Nonetheless, we did not want to con-

strain the data nor findings potentially

contrary to our hypotheses. Therefore,

the analyses are presented as a new ver-

sus previous generation comparison,

with the previous two generations kept

as separate groups.

Given the dearth of Chinese manage-

ment theory, as well as the minimal

empirical research in China over the

past fifty years, identifying a strong the-

oretical foundation for the directionality

of these hypotheses was challenging.

However, a recent study by Inglehart

and Carballo (1997) that compared

twenty-one countries through time

(1981-1990) suggests that the socio-

political and economic factors related to

the industrialization process may lead

towards the global homogenization of

values. This point was previously pro-

posed by Webber (1969), and subse-

quently debated and studied by a vari-

ety of other researchers (Adler &

Graham, 1989; Dunphy, 1987; Kelley,

Whatley & Worthy, 1987; Ralston et al.,

1997; Ricks, Toyne & Martinez, 1990).

Thus, we will use the industrialization

argument as our primary theoretical

foundation. Therefore, we propose that

relative to the previous generations, the

New Generation-who has seen the

majority of industrialization take

place-will score higher on values that

are consistent with industrialization

(Individualism), while scoring lower on

traditional Chinese values (Collectivism

and Confucianism). For Individualism

and Collectivism, this argument seems

sufficient, given that we created these

hypotheses based on the best logic that

we could identify. Even so, we still

view the hypotheses as being very much

exploratory in nature.

However, Confucianism presents

more of a dilemma due to contradicting

influences. On the one hand, the group-

focused nature of Confucian values is in

direct conflict with much of Western

Individualism, which suggests a decline

of Confucian values in the New

Generation of managers. On the other

hand, the Communist Party has allowed

this New Generation much more free-

dom, even to the extent of mildly

encouraging a return to Confucian val-

ues, thereby suggesting a growth in

Confucianism for this young generation.

A decline in Confucian values for the

New Generation implies movement

toward convergence-or at least the

melting pot philosophy of crossvergence

(Ralston, Gustafson, Cheung & Terpstra,

1993). Conversely, an increased attach-

ment to Confucian values would more

closely support the divergence view-

point that cultures will remain hetero-

geneous and unique (Kelley et al.,

1987). We take the position that the

New Generation will score lower on

Confucian values than the previous gen- erations based both on recent criticisms

that current “Neo-Confucianism” is at

best a watered-down version, and on firsthand observations by the authors-

VOL. 30, No. 2, SECOND QUARTER, 1999 419

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THE NEW CHINESE MANAGER

both Chinese and Western-that concur

with these criticisms.

Hi: For the Individualism dimen-

sion, the mean score of the New

Generation subjects will be signifi-

cantly higher than the scores of the

Current Generation and the Older

Generation subjects.

H2: For the Collectivism dimension,

the mean score of the New Generation

subjects will be significantly lower

than the scores of the Current

Generation and the Older Generation

subjects.

H3: For the Confucian dimension,

the mean score of the New Generation

subjects will be significantly lower

than the scores of the Current

Generations and the Older Generation

subjects.

Potential Demographic Influences

The influence of other demographic

factors on the hypothesized relation-

ships is always a concern in studies of

this nature. Thus, based on the recent

history of China, as well as on previous

empirical research findings, we identi-

fied seven factors that should be consid-

ered as influences (i.e., covariates) in

this study. Specifically, we will consid-

er the potential impact of the following

individual and organizational factors:

Gender, level of education, the geo-

graphic region in which the subject was

raised, position level of the subject in

the company, size of the company,

industry in which the company is locat-

ed, and the geographic region of the

subject’s employment. A description of the seven demographic factors is pro-

vided in Table 1.

METHOD

Subjects

The sample consisted of 869 subjects

who were managers and professionals

about to take part in management devel-

opment programs. All were employed

in state-run enterprises. While China

has an increasing number of indepen-

dent businesses-especially small busi-

nesses-the great majority of economic

activity in China is still controlled by

the state, or is run by managers who

were trained and developed within

state-run enterprises. Subject demo-

graphics are presented in Table 1.

Measure and Procedure

The Schwartz Value Survey (SVS),

which consists of 56 items that are mea-

sured with a 9-point Likert type scale,

was used as our measure. These items

are used to develop the instrument’s ten

universal subdimensions of work val-

ues: Power, achievement, hedonism,

stimulation, self-achievement, univer-

salism, benevolence, tradition, confor-

mity, and security. While all ten subdi-

mensions are found in every culture,

the level of importance of each varies

from one culture to the next (Schwartz,

1992). In turn, these subdimensions are

used to form the universal higher-order

dimensions of Individualism and

Collectivism. Individualism is com-

prised of power, achievement, hedo-

nism, stimulation and self-direction, while Collectivism consists of benevo-

lence, tradition and conformity.

Additionally, Schwartz identified three

unique-to-China subdimensions:

Societal harmony, virtuous interperson-

al behavior, and personal and interper-

sonal harmony. Collectively, these sub-

dimensions are the keystone of

Confucianism (Lin, 1995; Ralston et al.,

1996; Waley, 1938). Combined, they

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DAVID A. RALSTON, CAROLYN P. EGRI, SALLY STEWART, ROBERT H. TERPSTRA AND Yu KAICHENG

TABLE 1

DISTRIBUTION OF THE DEMOGRAPHIC INFLUENCES FOR THE CHINESE SUBJECTS (N=869)

Demographic Influences Percentage

Gender: Male 74 Education Level: 9 or fewer years 10

10 years-Partial university 75 4-year degree or more 15

Region of Rearing: North Central 15 Northwest 15 Northeast 14 East 11 Central 13 South 15 Southwest 17

Position Level: Professional 27 First-level Supervisor 33 Middle Management 21 Top Management 19

Company Size: < 100 employees 17 101-500 employees 33 501-1500 employees 19 > 1500 employees 31

Industry: Heavy manufacturing 31 Light manufacturing 28 Service industries 8 Nonprofit 20 Financial services 4 Other 9

Region of Work: North Central 16 Northwest 12 Northeast 14 East 10 Central 16 South 14 Southwest 18

form our measure of Confucianism.

While the Individualism and Collec-

tivism measures have previously been

well tested, in this study we will assess

the validity of combining the three

unique-to-China subdimensions into a

single measure of Confucianism. The

original Schwartz translation-back-

translation of the SVS was administered

to the subjects by a Chinese colleague.

The survey was administered prior to

their participation in management

development programs. Subjects were

assured that their anonymity would be

maintained. Additionally, this survey

was our only data collection method, thus encouraging others to further

explore our findings using different data

collection methods.

RESULTS

Scale Reliabilities

The internal consistency of the

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THE NEW CHINESE MANAGER

Individualism value scale (Cronbach’s ( = .79, 18 items) and the Collectivism

scale (Cronbach’s ( = .76, 14 items) were

found to be of an acceptable level. The

Cronbach’s alphas for the three subdi-

mensions that make up the Confucian

construct were .69 for Societal Harmony

(6 items), .73 for Virtuous Interpersonal

Behavior (9 items), and .57 for Personal

and Interpersonal Harmony (6 items).

The Cronbach’s alpha scores for the

composite Confucian construct (i.e., the 21 items of these three subdimensions

combined) was .83. The greater internal

consistency for the Confucian construct

suggests that the single Confucianism scale may be a better measure than the

three individual scales, and that it

appears to be a reasonable construct to

use in the study.

Analysis of Variance Tests of the Individualism, Collectivism and

Confucianism Dimensions

The MANOVA indicated a significant

Wilks’ lambda effect (( =.89, df=2,3,868,

p<.001). The subsequently calculated

univariate ANCOVAs indicated that

only some of the individual covariates

were significant (gender, region of rear-

ing and region of employment for

Individualism; position for both

Collectivism and Confucianism). Thus,

the ANCOVAs were run for the study

results using the respective significant

demographic covariates. Each of these

three analyses was significant:

Individualism (F=15.17, df=2,868, p<.001), Collectivism (F=5.55, df=2,868,

p<.01), and Confucianism (F=4.60,

df=2,868, p<.01). The means, standard

TABLE 2

MEANS, STANDARD DEVIATIONS, F-TEST AND DUNCAN MULTIPLE COMPARISON TEST RESULTS FOR NEW (<41 YEARS), CURRENT (41-51 YEARS) AND OLDER (>51 YEARS)

GENERATIONS ON THE INDIVIDUALISM, COLLECTIVISM AND CONFUCIANISM DIMENSIONS

Dependent Multiple Comparison Test Measures Generation Mean SD F Group Differences

Individualism 1 New 3.80 .83 Current 3.44 .83 15.17*** New > (Current, Older) Older 3.48 .85

Collectivism 2 Older 4.08 .88 Current 3.85 .78 5.55** Older > Current > New New 3.59 .76

Confucianism 3 Older 4.01 .88 Current 3.78 .78 4.60** Older > Current > New New 3.62 .76

p < .05, p <.01, p <.001.

1 Covariates included in the analysis: gender, region of employment, region of rearing.

2 Covariates included in the analysis: position.

3 Covariates included in the analysis: position.

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DAVID A. RALSTON, CAROLYN P. EGRI, SALLY STEWART, ROBERT H. TERPSTRA AND Yu KAICHENG

deviations, and F-test results of these

ANCOVAs are reported in Table 2. In

turn, since all ANCOVAs were signifi-

cant, Duncan multiple comparison tests

were conducted for each of the depen-

dent measures (see Table 2). Cronbach’s

alpha, calculated by generation for each of the three dependent measures,

ranged from .73 to .81.

Multiple Comparison Test Findings

The findings of the Duncan multiple

comparison test for Individualism show

that the New Generation group scored

significantly higher on Individualism

than the Current and Older Generation

groups, who were not significantly dif-

ferent from one another. The findings

for both Collectivism and Confucianism

show that the New Generation group

scored significantly lower than the

Current and Older Generation groups,

and that the Current Generation group

also scored lower than the Older

Generation group.

Contribution of the Demographic Factors

Demographic factors play a very dif-

ferent role depending on the dimension.

For Collectivism and Confucianism,

only position in the organization had

any impact, while for Individualism,

gender, the region in which one is employed, and the region in which one was reared are relevant factors to be

considered. For the Individualism mea-

sure, males were higher than females

and the more industrialized regions

were higher than the less industrialized

regions. For Collectivism and

Confucianism, position was positively

related with. Thus, these covariate find-

ings also add support to the argument

that Individualism and Collectivism are

independent dimensions, and that

Confucianism and Collectivism are

closely related dimensions.

IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS

The Hypotheses on Individualism, Collectivism and

Confucianism

Our findings for Individualism fully

support Hypothesis 1. The New

Generation scored significantly higher

than the other two generational groups.

Our findings for Collectivism and

Confucianism were similar, and both

partially support Hypotheses 2 and 3,

respectively, in that the New Generation

manager did score significantly higher

than the two previous generations.

However, contrary to our hypotheses,

the decline in both Collectivism and

Confucianism began with the Current

Generation, with a second significant decline again being found for the New

Generation. For Collectivism and

Confucianism the overall decline across

the generations attained not only the

same level of significance, but also the

mean value decline is almost identical

for these two dimensions. Still, based

on recent Chinese history and the logic

presented by Ralston et al. (1997), one

might expect to see any decrease in

Confucian beliefs on the part of the New

Generation managers to be less than any

decrease found for the overall

Collectivism measure.

Ralston et al. (1997) view Confucian

values in China as functioning in con-

cert with communist ideology to deter-

mine the overall level of Collectivism.

Recent history of the Social Reform Era

shows both increased support for

Confucianism and an apparent evolu-

tion toward a free-market economy.

Thus, as the hard-line communist ideol-

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THE NEW CHINESE MANAGER

ogy declines (softens) and support for

Confucian values increases, one might

expect less change for Confucianism

than for overall Collectivism across gen-

erations. Our data do not support this

view. Thus, it may be that Collectivism

and Confucianism are not intertwined.

Alternatively, it may be that

Confucianism is a value that is more

dependent upon being learned from an

elder. If so, it would be the next genera-

tion that will reflect the return to

Confucian values initiated during the

Social Reform Era. While our data can-

not prove this, these findings do raise

this possibility as a relevant issue wor-

thy of further investigation.

Nonetheless, if this is the case, the para- dox of “changing-while-maintaining”

will continue as the next generation of

Chinese managers assumes control,

meaning that a crossvergent value pat-

tern is ultimately much more likely

than a complete convergence of values.

For practitioners, this strongly implies

that the likely change to some form of

capitalism will not result in a mirror

image of Western capitalism. In fact,

given the multitude of dialects and

provincial-orientations, a variety of

forms of capitalism will likely flourish

within China-at least in the short-run.

Likewise, it is worth noting that our

results support the belief of Triandis et

al. (1988) and the empirical findings of

Egri et al. (1996) and Ralston et al.

(1998) that Individualism and

Collectivism are better viewed as sepa-

rate dimensions, rather than as polar

points on a continuum. The separate

dimension perspective allowed us to identify the differences in the timing of

the changes in Individualism and Collectivism. To have combined these

dimensions on the same continuum

would have resulted in lost or mislead-

ing information. Thus, treating

Individualism and Collectivism as inde-

pendent constructs clearly appears to

add richness to the information that can

be attained from the data.

THE NEW GENERATION PROFILE

Perhaps the most important finding of

this study is that the generation in

which one grew up appears to be cru-

cial to understanding the values of

Chinese managers. Consistent with pre-

vious research (Ralston, Gustafson,

Terpstra & Holt, 1995) one implication

of the increased individualistic tenden-

cies of these younger Chinese managers

is that they are more likely to act inde-

pendently and take risks in the pursuit

of profits even when these actions are in

conflict with traditional ways.

Moreover, given their greater mobility,

they can also be expected to flock to

where the best opportunities are per-

ceived. However, our findings also sug-

gest that this New Generation, who

demonstrate a greater sense of

Individualism, appears to be doing so at

some cost to their Confucian values. At

first glance, this finding appears to be

somewhat in conflict with previous

research that has noted current efforts

in China to modernize without renounc-

ing traditional Confucian values (Bond,

1991; Ralston et al., 1994; Ralston et al.,

1995; Redding, 1990). However, a closer

look would indicate that these findings are not contradictory, but reflect the use

of different frames of reference. In this

study, we used previous generations of

Chinese managers as a reference point,

while other research has used managers in Western cultures as a baseline.

Integrating these diverse findings sug- gests that in comparison to Western

managers, the New Generation of man-

agers maintains a relatively high level of

424 JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS STUDIES

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DAVID A. RALSTON, CAROLYN P. EGRI, SALLY STEWART, ROBERT H. TERPSTRA AND Yu KAICHENG

Confucian values, as well as collectivis-

tic tendencies. However, when com-

pared to previous generations of

Chinese managers, the New Generation

has a lower commitment to Con-

fucianism. Thus, the New Generation

could be viewed as being in the early

stage of values’ “crossvergence”

(Ralston et al., 1993). Nonetheless, one

should also interpret the lower

Confucian commitment within the con-

text of this study’s frame of reference.

Further research designed to look at

generational differences within and

across cultures could help to more pre-

cisely identify global differences in

managerial values and behaviors.

Additionally, an interesting aspect of

this study is that the transformations of

these three major values in Chinese life

appear to have taken place in different

ways and at different times. This is also

consistent with Ralston et al.’s (1993)

speculation that different values may

change at different rates.

Thus, the emergent profile of the New

Generation of Chinese managers and

professionals who will be leading China

into the 21st century is one of a genera-

tion whose values are clearly more indi-

vidualistic, less collectivistic and less

committed to Confucian philosophy

than their previous generation counter-

parts. The values of this New

Generation appear to be reflecting the

influences of the Social Reform Era in

which they grew up, a period of relative

openness and freedom when somewhat

greater exposure to Western societal

influences was permitted. These find-

ings also suggest that the New

Generation of Chinese managers is more

similar to Western managers than are

the previous generations, especially in

respect to individualistic behavior.

Specifically, their higher level of

Individualism suggests that this New

Generation of managers might come to

be known as the “Chinese Me

Generation.” While the yuppie philoso-

phy in the United States appears to

have run its course(at least for the pre-

sent(the Chuppie or Chinese yuppie

generation appears to be just starting to

indulge (Chen, 1993). A likely implica-

tion is that firms may want to segment

their Chinese market by generations and

use different marketing strategies for the

different generations. Additionally, it

appears that the New “Me” Generation

will become the major group of Chinese

consumers that Western firms can tar-

get. This should not only be because of

their increased purchasing power, but

also because their consumption behav-

ior is becoming increasingly congruent

with Western consumption patterns, as

a result of heightened Individualism.

Consequently, they may be less price

sensitive, but more value driven, com-

pared to the older generations.

In the same vein, it should prove even

more interesting-particularly to mar-

keters-to watch the subsequent devel- opment of China’s Next Generation of

managers (the “Spoiled, One-Child”

Generation) as its members move into

positions of managerial authority in the

coming decades. Thus, given the grow-

ing importance of China to the global

economy of the twenty-first century, it

seems clear that understanding the changing values and behavior of its

future managerial and professional peo-

ple is crucial for those interested in

engaging in international commerce.

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  • Contents
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  • Issue Table of Contents
    • Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 30, No. 2, 2nd Qtr., 1999
      • Front Matter [pp. i – 395]
      • Letter from the Editorial Team [p. iv]
      • Guanxi versus the Market: Ethics and Efficiency [pp. 231 – 247]
      • Exchange Rate Pass-Through and International Pricing Strategy: A Conceptual Framework and Research Propositions [pp. 249 – 268]
      • Learning to Compete in a Transition Economy: Experience, Environment, and Performance [pp. 269 – 295]
      • Technological Uncertainty, Buyer Preferences and Supplier Assurances: An Examination of Pacific Rim Purchasing Arrangements [pp. 297 – 316]
      • The Effects of Cultural Adaptation on Business Relationships: Americans Selling to Japanese and Thais [pp. 317 – 337]
      • Wealth, Culture, and Corruption [pp. 339 – 359]
      • International Expansion of Telecommunication Carriers: The Influence of Market Structure, Network Characteristics, and Entry Imperfections [pp. 361 – 381]
      • Information Internalization and Hurdle Rates in Small and Medium Enterprise Internationalization [pp. 383 – 394]
      • Perspectives on International Business Research
        • International Joint Venture Instability: A Critique of Previous Research, A Reconceptualization, and Directions for Future Research [pp. 397 – 414]
      • Notes
        • Doing Business in the 21st Century with the New Generation of Chinese Managers: A Study of Generational Shifts in Work Values in China [pp. 415 – 427]
      • Book Reviews
        • untitled [pp. 431 – 435]
      • Listing of Dissertations [pp. 437 – 438]
      • Back Matter [pp. 429 – 429]

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