Aesthetic leadership in Chinese business:a philosophical perspective

Zhang, Haina and Cone, Malcolm H. and Everett, André M. and Elkin, Graham (2011) Aesthetic leadership in Chinese business:a philosophical perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 101 (3). pp. 475-491. ISSN 0167-4544

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Confucian ethics play a pivotal role in guiding Chinese thinking and behaviour. Aesthetic leadership is emerging as a promising paradigm in leadership studies. This study investigates the practice of aesthetic leadership in Chinese organizations on the basis of Chinese philosophical foundations. We adopt a process perspective to access the aesthetic constellation of meanings present in the Chinese understanding of leadership, linking normative Confucian values to a pragmatic value rational world view, that rests on an ontology of vaguely defined norms that are malleable to different cultural contexts. Value rational pragmatism is explored in order to develop a deeper understanding of normative aesthetic leadership in China and to contrast it to instrumental aesthetic leadership. We empirically demonstrate the contextual specificity of aesthetic leadership in eight Chinese private- and state-owned enterprises (POEs and SOEs) through qualitative case studies. The findings provide a deeper insight into Chinese aesthetic leadership by proposing a dynamic leadership approach, from both ethical and instrumental perspectives, in the Chinese context.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Business Ethics
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18 Jun 2013 09:21
Last Modified:
21 Nov 2022 23:57