Are Chinese Teams Like Western Teams? Indigenous Management Theory to Leapfrog Essentialist Team Myths

Casas Klett, T. and J. K. Arnulf (2020). "Are Chinese teams like Western teams? Indigenous management theory to leapfrog essentialist team myths." Frontiers in Psychology 11(1758).

16 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2020

See all articles by Tomas Casas

Tomas Casas

University of St. Gallen - SoM: School of Management

Jan Ketil Arnulf

BI Norwegian Business School

Date Written: August 11, 2020

Abstract

Our study analyzes a gap in research on Chinese and Western management teams, based on a broad literature review. We claim that prevalent theoretical perspectives in the management team literature might be biased toward a Western-centric view of team dynamics. This obscures alternative ways of understanding top teams encompassing Chinese cultural traditions. We outline how an essentialist team conceptualization leads to a paradox consisting of three mutually contradicting myths. Myth 1 implies that Western groups of managers comply with theoretically “ideal” team processes and characteristics. Myth 2 derives from research literature on Chinese teams claiming that team features are assumed absent or weak in China due to cultural particularities. Paradoxically, the same research tradition constructs another third myth by reporting that Chinese teams successfully comply with the Western ideal team model. The three coexisting myths point to a theoretical confounding of contextual mediators in team processes. We discuss how indigenous Chinese leadership theory and Chinese systems of philosophy give Chinese teams access to distinct and effective team processes to reach high-performance outcomes. This paper aims to open the rich possibilities of Chinese management and team practices to the cross-cultural context, and on return to novel understanding of Western teams beyond traditional essentialist theory anchors.

Keywords: Management Teams; Cross-Cultural Management Studies; China; Essentialist Theories

Suggested Citation

Casas, Tomas and Arnulf, Jan Ketil, Are Chinese Teams Like Western Teams? Indigenous Management Theory to Leapfrog Essentialist Team Myths (August 11, 2020). Casas Klett, T. and J. K. Arnulf (2020). "Are Chinese teams like Western teams? Indigenous management theory to leapfrog essentialist team myths." Frontiers in Psychology 11(1758)., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3715794

Tomas Casas

University of St. Gallen - SoM: School of Management ( email )

Dufourstrasse 40a
St. Gallen, CH-9000
Switzerland

Jan Ketil Arnulf (Contact Author)

BI Norwegian Business School ( email )

Nydalsveien 37
Oslo, 0442
Norway

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