The practices of managers in a Chinese shareholding enterprise
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The purpose of this study was to explore the practices of managers in a Chinese shareholding enterprise in the broad context of China’s transition from a central planning economy to a free market economy. Factors that influenced managers’ practices were also examined. A Western management functions model was used as the analytical basis for the study. Management practices were explored from a qualitative perspective and a social constructivist framework, and through extensive open-ended individual interviews, document review, and non-participatory observations. Seven middle managers from a shareholding company in southwestern China were purposefully selected. This particular organization was considered representative of Chinese enterprises under transformation. The constant comparative analysis method was employed for data analysis and result interpretations. Four major coding categories with multiple themes directly related to managers’ practices emerged from the data: (a) individual management philosophy, (b) four basic functions, (c) communication, and (d) critical factors influencing management practices. Findings confirmed that the managers under study were involved in all four functions as specified in the management functions model, namely, planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. However, within each functional area, results showed a wide range of variation. Myriad factors shaped and influenced the practices of Chinese managers including, among other things, the management system, transformed ownership, organizational culture, communication channels, Western influences, and personal issues. A cross-cultural communication model and a holistic framework of management were proposed to understand the practices of managers under China’s transitional economy. Implications for HRD theory and practice were drawn and specific future research directions discussed. This study provides insight that may inform HRD professionals when designing and implementing human resource/organization development interventions that are most effective in unleashing and maximizing managerial capacity in Chinese and cross-cultural organizational settings.