English Full Article Citation


Mike Berrell , Wadematheson, Singapore
Jeff Wrathall, William Angliss Institute of TAFE, Australia


This study of transferring management and business knowledge in China tapped the views and opinions of 43 expert management educators who had participated in the transfer of management knowledge in China from the mid-1990s to the present time. It traces the development of management education in China following the implementation of the 1978 Open Door Policy, demonstrates the impact of China’s national culture on knowledge transfer, identifies success factors in the process, and exposes the noncomparability of culture-specific approaches to managing people and organizations. We argue that the management values, attitudes, and practices of Chinese managers are diverging from those in the West, which has significant implications for the curriculum and pedagogy employed in the delivery of management education. Understanding the basis for this divergence will benefit expat and local manager alike as they negotiate their managerial roles in cross-border organizations like international joint ventures (IJVs).

China, international joint ventures, management education, knowledge transfer, international management


Este estudio sobre la transferencia de conocimientos de gestión y negocios en China aprovechó los puntos de vista y opiniones de 43 educadores expertos en gestión que habían participado en la transferencia de conocimientos de gestión en China desde mediados de la década de 1990 hasta la actualidad. Traza el desarrollo de la educación gerencial en China después de la implementación de la Política de Puertas Abiertas de 1978, demuestra el impacto de la cultura nacional de China en la transferencia de conocimiento, identifica los factores de éxito en el proceso y señala la incompatibilidad de los enfoques específicos de la cultura para administrar personas y organizaciones. Argumentamos que los valores, las actitudes y las prácticas de gestión de los directores chinos son divergentes de los de Occidente, lo que tiene implicaciones importantes para el plan de estudios y la pedagogía empleados en la impartición de la educación en gestión. Comprender la base de esta divergencia beneficiará tanto a los expatriados como a los gerentes locales mientras negocian sus roles gerenciales en organizaciones transfronterizas como las joint ventures internacionales.

Palabras clave
China, joint ventures internacionales, educación en gestión, transferencia de conocimientos, gestión internacional

6 May 2021

26 June 2021

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC license.


Berrell, M.; & Wrathall, J. (2021). Transferring management and busiess knowledge in China. Journal of Management and Business Education, 4(3), 289-321.


Adler, N. (1983). Cross-Cultural Management Research: The Ostrich and the Trend. Academy of Management Review, 8(2), 226-232.

Adler, N., & Gundersen, A. (2008). International dimensions of organizational behaviour. (5th ed.). South-Western College Publishing / International Thomson Publishing.

Almasaad, A. (2014). Success Factors for Managing International Joint Ventures in Saudi Arabia. Unpublished PhD thesis, School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London.

Backman, M. (2005). Inside Knowledge: Streetwise in Asia. Palgrave Macmillan.

Baldwin, T. & Ford, J. (1988). Transfer of training: A review and directions for future research. Personnel Psychology, 41, 63-105.

Barnett, M. (2005). Giving Credits Where Credit’s Not Due? Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4(2), 221-228.

Berk, L. (2002). Child Development (5th ed.). Allyn & Bacon

Bernstein, W. (2004). The Birth of Plenty: How the Prosperity of the Modern World was Created. McGraw-Hill.

Berrell, M. (2007). The Nature of Power, Control, Trust and Risk in International Joint Ventures: Implications for Relationships and Performance. In S. Clegg, K. Wang, & M. Berrell (Eds.), Business Networks and Strategic Alliances in China (pp. 28-55). Edward Elgar.

Berrell, M., & Wrathall, J. (2007). Between Chinese culture and the rule of law: What foreign managers in China should know about intellectual property rights. Management Research News, 30(1), 57-76.

Berrell, M., Wrathall, J., & Wright, P. (2001). A Model for Chinese Management Education. Cross Cultural Management, 8(1), 28-44.

Biggs, J. (1996). Western misconceptions of the Confucius-heritage learning culture. In D. Watkins & J. Biggs (Eds.), The Chinese learner: Cultural, psychological, and contextual influences (pp. 45-67) Comparative Education Research Center, The University of Hong Kong.

Black, J., & Mendenhall, M. (1990). Cross-Cultural Training Effectiveness: A Review and a Theoretical Framework for Future Research. Academy of Management Review, 15(1), 113-136.

Bluestone, B. & Harrison, B. (1984). The Deindustrialization of America: Plant Closings, Community Abandonment, and the Dismantling of Basic Industry. Basic Books.

Bohm, A., & King, R. (1999). Positioning Australian Institutions for the Future: An analysis of the international education markets in The People’s Republic of China. Education Australia.

Boughton, J. (2002). Globalization and the Silent Revolution of the 1980s. Finance & Development, A quarterly magazine of the IMF, 39(1).

Braine, M. (2005). Cross-cultural training of managers: An evaluation of a management development programme for Chinese managers. The Journal of Management Development, 24(5), 459-472.

Breslin, S. (2000). Decentralization, Globalization and China’s Partial Re-engagement with the Global Economy. New Political Economy, 5(2), 205-226.

Brown, D., & Porter, R. (1996). Management Issues in China: Volume 1: Domestic Enterprises. Routledge

Cattell, R. (1966). The Scree Test for the Number of Factors. Multivariate Behavioural Research, 1, 245-76.

Chen, M. (1995). Asian Management Systems: Chinese, Japanese and Korean Styles of Business. Routledge.

Chen, M., & Martin, D. (1996). Mountains of Gold. China Business Review, 23(1), 23-29.

Child, J., & Warner, M. (2003). Culture and Management in China. Research Papers in Management Studies, WP 03/2003, Judge Institute of Management.

Churchman, C.W. (1967). Wicked problems. Management Science, 14(4), B141-B146.

Clegg, S., Wang, K., & Berrell, M. (Eds.). (2007). Business Networks and Strategic Alliances in China. Edward Elgar.

Cohen, A. (1979). Political Symbolism. Annual Review of Anthropology (pp. 87-113). 8, Annual Reviews Inc.

Collins, M. (2015). The Pros And Cons Of Globalization. Forbes, 6 May.

Conger, J., & Xin, K. (2000). Executive Education in the 21st Century. Journal of Management Education, 24(1), 73-101.

Davenport, T., & Prusak, L. (1998). Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage what they Know. Harvard Business School Press

Deckers, W. (2004). China, Globalisation, and the World Trade Organisation. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 34(1), 102-119.

Deng, S., & Wang. Y. (1992). Management education in China: Past, present, and future. World Development, 20(6), 873-880.

DiMaggio, P., & Powell, W. (1991). Introduction. In W. Powell & P. DiMaggio (Eds.). The new institutionalism in organizational analysis (pp. 1-38). The University of Chicago Press.

Donaldson, L. (2005). For Positive Management Theories While Retaining Science: Reply to Ghoshal. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4(1), 109-113.

Doz, Y., & Prahalad, C. (1991). Managing DMNCs: A search for a new paradigm. Strategic Management Journal, 12, 145-164.

Durkheim, E. (1964). The rules of sociological method. The Free Press.

Enright, M., Scott, E., & Chang, K-m. (2005). Regional Powerhouse: The Greater Pearl River Delta and the Rise of China. John Wiley & Sons.

Feldman, D. (2005). The Food’s No Good and They Don’t Give Us Enough: Reflections on Mintzberg’s Critique of MBA Education. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4(2), 217-220.

Fiske, J., & Hartley, J. (1978). Reading Television. Methuen.

Ford, P., & Chan, Y. (2002). Knowledge Sharing in a Cross-Cultural Setting: A Case Study. Queen’s School of Business Working Paper 02-09, Queen’s University at Kingston.

Foster, M., & Minkes, A. (1999). East and West: Business Culture as Divergence and Convergence. Journal of General Management, 25(1), 60-71.

Frazer, A. (1999). A scouting report on training options. China Business Review, 26(1), 44-47.

Friedland, R., & Alford, R. (1991). Bringing society back in: Symbols, practices, and institutional contradictions. In W. Powell & P. DiMaggio (Eds.), The new institutionalism in organizational analysis (pp. 232-263). The University of Chicago Press.

Galt, H. (1951). History of Chinese Educational Institutions, 1: To the End of the Five Dynasties (A.D. 960). Arthur Probsthain.

Gapper, J. (2005). Comment on Sumantra Ghoshal’s ‘Bad Management Theories Are Destroying Good Management Practices. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4(1), 101-103.

Gentry, W., & Sparks, T. (2012). A Convergence/Divergence Perspective of Leadership Competencies Managers Believe Are Most Important for Success in Organizations: A Cross-Cultural Multilevel Analysis of 40 Countries. Journal of Business and Psychology, 27(1), 15-30.

Geldart, J., & Roth, D. (2013). Welcome to The Thoughts of Chairmen Now: Wisdom from China’s business leaders and entrepreneurs (abridged for digital distribution), Grant Thornton.

Goodall, K., & Warner, M. (1997). Human resources in Sino-foreign joint ventures: selected case studies in Shanghai, compared with Beijing. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 8(5), 569-93.

Gudykunst, W. (Ed.). (2003). Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Communication Cross-Cultural and International. Sage.

Guo, C. (Grace) (2015). Cultural convergence, divergence, and crossvergence. Wiley Encyclopedia of Management, 6, International Management. Wiley & Sons.

Hall, E. (1976). Beyond Culture. Anchor Press.

Hambrick, D. (2005). Just How Bad Are Our Theories? A Response to Ghoshal. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4(1), 104-107.

Hativa, N., Barak, R., & Simhi, E. (2001). Expert University Teachers: Thinking, Knowledge and Practice Regarding Effective Teaching Behaviors. The Journal of Higher Education, 72, 699-729.

Hinojosa, A., Gardner, W., Walker, H., Cogliser, C., & Gullifor, D. (2017). A Review of Cognitive Dissonance Theory in Management Research: Opportunities for Further Development. Journal of Management, 43(1), 170-199.

Hofstede, G. (1980). Motivation, Leadership, and Organization: Do American Theories Apply Abroad? Organizational Dynamics, 9(1), 42-63.

Hofstede, G. (1994). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind - intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival. Harper-Collins.

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G.J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind - Intercultural Cooperation and its Importance for Survival (3rd ed.). McGraw Hill.

Hoorn, A. (2019). Generational Shifts in Managerial Values and the Coming of a Unified Business Culture: A Cross-National Analysis Using European Social Survey Data. Journal of Business Ethics, 155.

Hout, T., & Michael, D. (2014). A Chinese Approach to Management. Harvard Business Review, September.

Huang, Y. (2008). Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics: Entrepreneurship and the State. Cambridge University Press.

Huang, X., & Bond, M. (Eds.). (2012). Handbook of Chinese Organizational Behavior: Integrating Theory, Research and Practice. Edward Elgar.

Huntington, S. (1996). The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Simon & Schuster

Íñiguez, S. (2016). Cosmopolitan Managers: Executive Development that Works. Palgrave Macmillan.

Johnson, B., & Christensen, L. (2004). Educational Research: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Approaches (5th ed.). Sage.

Jones, G. (1996). The Evolution of International Business: An Introduction. Routledge.

Ju, J. (2018). What is the effective leadership style in the Chinese context? An empirical study from Chinese managers and followers perspective. Unpublished Master Thesis (MBA), Jönköping University, Sweden.

Kamis, T. (1996). Education for the PRC executive. China Business Review, 23(4), 36-39.

Kanter, R. (2005). What Theories Do Audiences Want? Exploring the Demand Side. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4(1), 83-95.

Kayes, A., Kayes, D., & Yamazaki, Y. (2005). Transferring Knowledge across Cultures: A Learning Competencies Approach. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 18(4), 87-100.

Kember, D., & McNaught, C. (2007). Enhancing University Teaching. Routledge.

Khamaksorn, A., Kurul, E., & Tah, J. (2016, December). Factors Affecting Knowledge Transfer in International Construction Joint Venture Projects. International Conference on Civil, Architecture and Sustainable Development (CASD-2016), London.

Kim, S., Fu, P., & Duan, J. (2017). Confucianism and Human Resource Management in East Asia. In F. Cooks & S. Kim (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Human Resource Management in Asia. Routledge.

Kleiman, L., & Kass, D. (2007). Giving MBA Programs the Third Degree. Journal of Management Education, 31(1), 81-103.

Kleinrichert, D. (2005). Managers, Theory, and Practice: On What Do We Base Experienced Reflection? Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4(2), 237-239.

Kreber, C. (2002). Teaching excellence, teaching expertise and the scholarship of teaching. Innovative Higher Education, 27, 5-23.

Kronenfeld, J., & Decker, H. (1979). Structural Anthropology. Annual Review of Anthropology, (pp. 503-541) 8. Annual Reviews Inc.

Lau, A., & Roffey, B. (2002). Management education and development in China: a research note. Labour and Management in Development Journal, 2(10), 1-18.

Lau, W.K. (Elaine) (2012, August). A study of effective leadership in the Chinese context. Paper presented at the Academy of Management 2012 Annual Meeting, Boston.

Lenartowicz, T., Johnson, J., & Konopaske, R. (2014). The application of learning theories to improve cross-cultural training programs in MNCs. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25(12), 1697-1719.

Lewicki, R. (2005). Jerry Jurgensen, Chief Executive Officer of Nationwide, on Mintzberg’s Managers Not MBAs. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4(2), 240-243.

Li, J., & Madsen, J. (2010). Examining Chinese managers' work-related values and attitudes. Management Decision, 4(1), 57-76.

Liang, N., & Lin, S. (2008). Erroneous Learning from the West? A Narrative Analysis of Chinese MBA Cases Published in 1992, 1999 and 2003. Management International Review, 48, 603-638.

Lu, L-T. (2012). Etic or Emic? Measuring Culture in International Business Research. International Business Research, 5(5), 109-115.

Ma, M. (2020). Leadership in China: Harnessing Chinese Wisdom for Global Leadership? Transpersonal Leadership Series: White Paper Six,

Mackinnon, A. (2008). Chinese strategy: is it crossverging, converging or transverging to Western systems? Management Decision, 46(2), 173-186.

Marković, M. (2008). Managing the organizational change and culture in the age of globalization. Journal of Business Economics and Management, 9(1), 3-11.

May, A. (1997). Think globally - act locally! Competences for global management. Career Development International, 2(6), 308-309.

Mcgaughey, S., & De Cieri, H. (1999). Reassessment of convergence and divergence dynamics: implications for international HRM. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 10(2), 235-250.

McDonald, F., & Burton, F. (2002). International Business. Thomson.

Mead, R., & Andrews, T. (2009). International Management (4th ed.). Wiley-Blackwell.

Merrill, D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 50(3), 43-59.

Miles, R. (2005). Telling it Like it Ought to Be. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4(2), 214-216.

Min, W. (2005). The Legacy of the Past and the Context of the Future. In P. Altbach & T. Umakoshi (Eds.), Asian Universities and Contemporary Challenges. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Miroshnik, V. (2002). Culture and International Management: A Review. Journal of Management Development, 27(7), 521-544.

Monash Memo. (2001). First Course in Another Language for Monash. Monash Memo, Issue 4, 21 February.

Mor, S., Morris, M., & Joh, J. (2013). Identifying and Training Adaptive Cross-Cultural Management Skills: The Crucial Role of Cultural Metacognition. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 12(3), 453-475.

Nasierowski, W., & Coleman, D. (1997). Lessons learned from unsuccessful transfers of managerial techniques: cultural impediments to the transfer of TQM practices. International Journal of Management, 14(1), 29-37, SSN 0813-0183

Newman, K., & Nollen, S. (1996). Culture and Congruence: The fit between management practices and national culture. Journal of International Business Studies, 27(4), 753-779.

Noe, R. (1986). Trainee’s attributes and attitudes: Neglected influences on training effectiveness. Academy of Management Review, 11(4), 736-749.

Nolan, P. (2001). China and the Global Economy: National Champions, Industrial Policy, and the Big Business Revolution. Palgrave.

Paik, Y., Chow, I., & Vance, C. (2011). Interaction effects of globalization and institutional forces on international HRM practice: Illuminating the convergence‐divergence debate. Thunderbird: International Business Review, 53(5), 647-659.

Parker, B., & McEvoy, G. (1993). Initial examination of a model of intercultural adjustment. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 17(3), 355-379.

Parsons, T. (1951). The social system. The Free Press.

Parsons, T. (1968). The structure of social action. The Free Press.

Pike, K. (1954). Language in relation to a unified theory of the structure of human behavior (preliminary ed.). Summer Institute of Linguistics.

Pfeffer, J. (2005). Why Do Bad Management Theories Persist? A Comment on Ghoshal. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4(1), 96-100.

Pothukuchi, V., Damanpour, F., Choi, J., Chen, C., & Park, S. (2002). National and Organizational Culture Differences and International Joint Venture Performance. Journal of International Business Studies, 33(2), 243-265.

Price, R. (1970). Education in Communist China. Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Pun, A. (1990). Managing the cultural differences in learning. Journal of Management Development, 9(4), 35-40.

Qi, Y. (2017). Why does traditional China education system place less importance on critical thinking than western system? An evaluation of how to implement critical thinking in Chinese education effectively. Advances in Higher Education, 1, 38-46.

Ralston, D. (2008). The crossvergence perspective: reflections and projections. Journal of International Business Studies, 39(1), 27-40.

Ralston, D., Holt, D., Terpstra, R., & Yu, K.-c. (1997). The Impact of National Culture and Economic Ideology on Managerial Work Values: A Study of the United States, Russia, Japan, and China. Journal of International Business Studies, 28, 177-207.

Riege, A. (2007). Actions to overcome knowledge transfer barriers in MNCs. Journal of Knowledge Management, 11(1), 48-67.

Rittel, H., & Webber, M. (1973). Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning. Policy Sciences, 4, 155-169.

Saaty, T. (1988). Multicriteria Decision Making: The Analytical Hierarchy Process. RWS Publications.

Sanday, P. (1979). The ethnographic paradigm(s). Administrative Science Quarterly, 24(4), 527-538.

Shenkar, O. (2005). The Chinese Century, The Rising Chinese Economy and its Impact on the Global Economy, the Balance of Power, and your Job. Pearson-Wharton Business School Publishing.

Shenkar, O. (2001). Cultural Distance Revisited: Towards a More Rigorous Conceptualization and Measurement of Cultural Differences. Journal of International Business Studies, 32(3), 519-535.

Shenkar, O., & Ronen, S. (1987). Structure and Importance of Work Goals Among Managers in the Republic of China. Academy of Management Journal, 30(3), 564-76.

Simonin, B. (1999). Ambiguity and the Process of Knowledge Transfer in Strategic Alliances. Strategic Management Journal, 20(7), 595-623.;2-5

Smith, P., Peterson, M., & Thomas, D. (Eds.). (2008). The Handbook of Cross-Cultural Management Research. Sage.

Svensson, G. (2001). “Glocalization” of business activities: a “glocal strategy” approach. Management Decision, 39(1), 6-18.

Tang, J., & Ward. A. (2003). The Changing Face of Chinese Management. Routledge.

Taylor, F. (1915). The Principles of Scientific Management. Harper & brothers.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (2012) Competing across borders, April 25. match

Thompson, E. (2002). Chinese Perspectives on the Important Aspects of an MBA Teacher. Journal of Management Education, 26(3), 229-258.

Thompson, E., & Gui, Q. (2000). International Perspective: The Appropriateness of Using Hong Kong to Make Inferences About Business Students in Mainland China. Journal of Education for Business, September/October, 76(1), 48-55.

Thornhill, A. (1993). Management training across cultures: The challenge for trainers, Journal of European Industrial Training, 17(10), 43-51.

Triandis, H. (1982). Dimensions of cultural variations as parameters of organizational theories. International Studies of Management and Organization, 12(4), 139-169.

Trompenaars, F., & Hampden-Turner, C. (1997). Riding the Waves of Culture: understanding Cultural Diversity in Business (2nd ed.). Nicholas Brealey.

Tsai, T., Young, M., & Cheng, B-s (2011). Confucian Business Practices and Firm Competitiveness: The Case of Sinyi Real Estate. Frontiers of Business Research in China, 5(3), 317-343.

Tyson, L. (2005). On Managers Not MBAs. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4(2), 235-236.

Verenikina, I. (2008). Scaffolding and learning: its role in nurturing new learners, In P. Kell, W. Vialle, D. Konza & G. Vogl (Eds.). Learning and the learner: exploring learning for new times (pp. 161-180). University of Wollongong Press.

Wang, J., & Sun, J-M. (2018). Talent Development in China: Current Practices and Challenges Ahead. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 20(4), 389-409.

Warner, M. (1991). How Chinese Managers Learn, Journal of General Management, 16(4), 66-84.

Warner, M. (Ed.). (2005). Human Resource Management in China Revisited. Routledge.

Warner, M. (2014). Understanding Management in China: Past, Present and Future. Routledge.

Warner, M., Edwards, V., Polonsky, G., Pucko, D., & Zhu, Y. (2005). Management in Transitional Economies: From the Berlin Wall to the Great Wall of China. Routledge.

Warner, M., & Goodall, K. (Eds.). (2010). Management and Training Development in China. Routledge.

Warner, M. & Rowley, C. (Eds.). (2014). Demystifying Chinese Management: Issues and Challenges. Routledge.

Waters, D, (1991). 21st Century Management: Keeping Ahead of the Japanese and Chinese. Prentice-Hall.

Webber, R. (1969). Convergence or divergence? Columbia Journal of World Business, 4(3), 75-83.

Wren, D. (2005). A History of Management Thought (5th ed.). John Wiley & Sons.

Wright, P., Mitsuhashi, H., & Chua, R. (1998). HRM in Multinationals’ Operations in China: Building Human Capital and Organizational Capability. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 36(2), 3-14.

Yin, R. (2014). Case Study Research: Design and Methods (5th ed.). Sage.

Youzhong, S. (1999). John Dewey in China: Yesterday and Today. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, XXXV(1), 69-88.

Yuan, R., Li, S., & Yu, B. (2019). Neither “local” nor “global”: Chinese university students’ identity paradoxes in the internationalization of higher education. Higher Education, 77, 963-978.

Yu, S. (2006, July 7). China has acute shortage of managers. Financial Times.

Yu, L., & Suen, H. (2005). Historical and Contemporary Exam-driven Education Fever in China. KEDI Journal of Educational Policy, 2(1), 17-33. available via Korean Educational Development Institute.

Zhang, Z. (2005). China market sees dramatic decrease in MBA applicants.

Zhou, P. (2005). Development of MBA Education in China: Opportunities and Challenges for Western Universities. Research Paper, Faculty of Business, University of Southern Queensland.

Zhu, C., & Dowling, P. (1994). The impact of the economic system upon human resource management practices in China. Human Resource Planning, 17(4), 1-21.