The way of zhong dao

The Chinese philosophy of zhong dao, or ‘middle way’, offers an integrative model of management to fit the interconnectedness of human societies in the new century.

Figure 1: The paradigmatic assumptions of eastern and western cultures

The ideal management situation in western corporations is embedded in the belief that the leader has high positional power, a clearly structured task and is able to maintain good social relations with other group members. This ideal is embodied through the regulation of individual, relational, organisational and environmental factors that serve as the measurement of the organisation’s management effectiveness. While this goal of effectiveness is commonly pursued in different societies, the way to achieve it tends to vary due to the impact of cultural differences. This is especially manifested as human society continues its way into the 21st century.

The new century reveals a critical turn in the perception of management because of the impetus of globalisation. Globalisation has been pushed to its highest level in human history by the innovation of transportation and communication technologies. Globalisation has shrunk the world and has led to the establishment of a global interconnected network where close interaction is the norm rather than exception. It is under this circumstance that we witness the integration of intercultural and organisational studies burgeoning in the early 1990s and rapidly developing in the 21st century.

Guo-Ming Chen

Guo-Ming Chen is professor of communication studies at the University of Rhode Island, US. He is the executive director of the International Association for Intercultural Communication Studies (IAICS), the founding president of the Association for Chinese Communication Studies (ACCS) and the co-editor of China Media Research.