Chinese business schools integrate East and West

Cultural Insights — By on December 19, 2007 at 11:45 am

Business schools in China are growing by leaps and bounds, with more programs and a significant increase in the number of international students, according to this article in Business Week. The expatriate students are there to gain a better understanding of the Chinese business world, which they gain not only with on-the-ground experience in the country but also with academic programs that focus on integrating the unique culture of China with Western business thought.

In a course on competition strategy at BiMBA (Beijing International MBA), readings include Sun Tsu’s The Art of War and cases on military battles drawn from ancient and modern Chinese history. “We are integrating Chinese philosophy and realities with Western management theories,” says BiMBA’s U.S. dean John Yang.

Perhaps no school has gone as far as Cheung Kong GSB, which runs its MBA program from a 70-year-old villa in Shanghai. Courses range from the globalization of Chinese companies to Confucian humanism. While its faculty is drawn from top universities worldwide, the majority of professors are of Chinese origin.

One of them is Zheng Yusheng, associate dean and a professor of operations management. After spending 20 years in the U.S. and becoming the first tenured Chinese professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, he returned to the mainland in 2002 to help set up the school.

His understanding of both Western and Chinese business cultures has made a mark on the MBA program. “In the U.S. there is almost no manufacturing, so what we teach there is how to manage retailers,” he notes. “China is a center of manufacturing, so we focus on manufacturing here. I say: You need to produce the right product, at the right time, for the right customers. That’s exactly what we have been doing.”

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