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Culture and Transformational Change in China's Accession to the WTO

Culture and Transformational Change in China's Accession to the WTO

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China is passing through transformational change from membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and this requires an understanding of knowledge processes and of how action research approaches to organizational development (OD) can lead to effective knowledge migration. The paper seeks to provide an example of such an approach, based on social viable systems (SVS) theory.
Design/methodology/approach – Illustration of the problems of WTO will be indicated. Approaches to OD in China based on action research perspectives may be particularly suitable to
helping Chinese organisations deal with transformational change. A new model of action research that draws on SVS theory is discussed, and an illustration of a structured approach to inquiry is provided. It is hypothesised that such an approach
may well be compatible with features of Chinese business culture (e.g. long-term focus, pragmatism, collectivism, moderate masculinity, face, lack of comfort with face-to-face criticism). This is a conceptual paper, developing a model for use/testing in the Chinese context. Further empirical research is need to validate the usefulness of the model.
China is passing through transformational change from membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and this requires an understanding of knowledge processes and of how action research approaches to organizational development (OD) can lead to effective knowledge migration. The paper seeks to provide an example of such an approach, based on social viable systems (SVS) theory.
Design/methodology/approach – Illustration of the problems of WTO will be indicated. Approaches to OD in China based on action research perspectives may be particularly suitable to
helping Chinese organisations deal with transformational change. A new model of action research that draws on SVS theory is discussed, and an illustration of a structured approach to inquiry is provided. It is hypothesised that such an approach
may well be compatible with features of Chinese business culture (e.g. long-term focus, pragmatism, collectivism, moderate masculinity, face, lack of comfort with face-to-face criticism). This is a conceptual paper, developing a model for use/testing in the Chinese context. Further empirical research is need to validate the usefulness of the model.

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Culture and transformational change with China’s accession to the WTO

The challenge for action research
Maurice Yolles
Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK

Culture and transformational change 147

Paul Iles
Teesside Business School, University of Teesside, Middlesbrough, UK, and

Kaijun Guo
Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
Abstract
Purpose – China is passing through transformational change from membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and this requires an understanding of knowledge processes and of how action research approaches to organizational development (OD) can lead to effective knowledge migration. The paper seeks to provide an example of such an approach, based on social viable systems (SVS) theory. Design/methodology/approach – Illustration of the problems of WTO will be indicated. Approaches to OD in China based on action research perspectives may be particularly suitable to helping Chinese organisations deal with transformational change. Findings – A new model of action research that draws on SVS theory is discussed, and an illustration of a structured approach to inquiry is provided. It is hypothesised that such an approach may well be compatible with features of Chinese business culture (e.g. long-term focus, pragmatism, collectivism, moderate masculinity, face, lack of comfort with face-to-face criticism). Research/limitations/implications – This is a conceptual paper, developing a model for use/testing in the Chinese context. Further empirical research is need to validate the usefulness of the model. Originality/value – Suggests that action research/action learning approaches are particularly useful in China to transfer/migrate knowledge and help organisations deal with transformational change, such as that consequent on globalisation and WTO accession. Approaches based on SVS theory are seen as particularly useful if dialogue is structured to enhance “semantic entanglement”. Keywords China, Action research, Organizational development, Knowledge transfer, Transformational leadership Paper type Conceptual paper

Introduction China is passing through a process of social and cultural change that is transforming not only its traditional values and beliefs, but also the way that it makes decisions and creates and distributes its products. Such changes include its recent (2001) membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which have an impact on processes of globalisation as Chinese enterprises begin to gain access to global markets and organisations with international missions engage in activities in China. This also affects organisational fitness as organisations attempt to shift their paradigms to meet the demands of WTO as the rules that conditions and facilitate their operations change.

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It provides an enormous challenge to China and its enterprises and its impact will be profound and problematic as organisations, and indeed the governance of the country as a whole, passes through the change process. Story (2004) argues that WTO entry was backed by party “reformers” to raise China’s salience as a key global player, and whilst market adjustment will be painful, WTO accession gives Beijing a major opportunity to re-establish central control and regulation over regional barons. In this paper, we will focus on the impact of WTO entry, and on how organization development (OD) should respond to these challenges. If such change is to happen, people in China need to be able to appreciate the relationship between structural and cultural change, and learn how to adapt their organisations and change their cultures. The problem is that this type of change is not only very painful, but also very difficult. The west has passed through such changes, and has developed ways of understanding how to manage it and how to dramatically change organisations and indeed societies so that they can be responsive to the new needs of a changing world. These new patterns of knowledge are culturally based, but they also entertain principles that are beyond culture. So, how can Chinese learn from the west? How can knowledge be moved from one society to another? One way is for Chinese managers to go to the west to take courses in management. For example, starting in the late 70s China has been sending large numbers of managers and professionals to study or take training courses abroad; according to statistics presented by Sun and Jellis (2004) the accumulated number of personnel who had taken overseas training was over 400,000 by the end of 2001 in order to bring new ideas, approaches and competences to Chinese organisations. Doing this they have a chance of learning about western culture, and appreciating some of what is being said in course programmes. However, there is little in the way of systematic evaluation of such programmes: Sun and Jellis (2004) in a study of 66 Chinese managers who had taken training courses abroad found that most trainees were selected by nomination from their boss in non-transparent ways, with little input from the trainee, much self- selection by directors, and rubber-stamping by the HR department. Some institutions delivered modules designed for local students with little reference to Chinese practice, restricted use of case studies, and a failure to meet managers’ expectations. Other problems occurred over culture-shock, language deficiencies limiting group participation, and problems using interpreters. Another way if for courses and tutors to go to China, and this can be a more difficult pathway if the course material is not delivered by teachers who are attuned to Chinese culture, because they cannot couch meanings in the appropriate way. Fundamentally, the problem lies in the process of transferring knowledge from one culture to another, and this process we claim is not possible unless it is accompanied through experience and the development of tacit knowledge. The problem of mapping knowledge from one culture to another is what we refer to as knowledge migration. Knowledge is sent from a source to a sink in a communication that acts as a catalyst, enabling source knowledge to be assembled afresh in the sink. The problem is that the relationship between source and sink knowledge may not be close. We can only ever know by examining the behaviours of people with that knowledge to see if it is similar to the behaviour that we would take. But it can never fully be, because we are all different. In the end, knowledge migration can be positive because it creates variety in understanding. However, it can also create myths, and these can be used in ways that are not to the advantage of either the source or the sink.

One way of overcoming the problem of knowledge migration is to establish new ways of implementing OD. Action research approaches provide a solution, particularly when they engage with a process that we refer to as semantic entanglement, leading to effective knowledge migration; concepts that we shall discuss in due course. We also contend that unlike more interpersonal approaches to OD, action research approaches are useful in China because they may be compatible with dimensions of Chinese culture, and may help Chinese organisations to manage transformational change following WTO accession. The aims of this paper are to: . discuss the impact of WTO accession on Chinese organisations, in particular their need to manage transformational change; . explore transformational change in social viable systems (SVS) theory terms; . discuss the role of western management knowledge in facilitating change in Chinese organisations, and the role of action research approaches to facilitating knowledge migration and OD; and . discuss a particular approach to action research and OD that draws on SVS theory, and discuss its potential in facilitating organisational change in Chinese organisations. Explaining social revolution as a cultural change China’s joining of WTO is expected to help to encourage effective competition in organisations, bringing many challenges. Companies will have to transform themselves to enable them to deal with them. This will not only involve a change in management approach, but much more fundamental changes, including encouraging international cooperation to help develop companies and requiring that organisations will have to pass through a transition due to the new set of international regulations and practices that WTO will bring (China Daily, 2002). An illustration of the changes to be dealt with, from the WTO accord, include: trade liberalisation; more privatisation and reduced State trading; changes in economic and regulatory behaviour; Internationalisation of product standards; rights for international import/export trading, leading to new product markets; new rights to invest and establish subsidiaries; right to choose one’s own joint venture partner; cultural conflicts as China’s enterprises balance the use of political connections with commercial ones; changes in effectiveness and efficiencies of companies; and greater failure rate for enterprises not understanding the meaning and implication of the regulations. It seems, therefore, that China is passing through a social revolution, perhaps more profound than Chairman Mao’s cultural revolution. All forms of social revolution can be explained in cultural terms. To explain this we adopt here the cybernetic SVS theory based on the work of Eric Schwarz (Yolles, 1999). It is concerned with social communities that have both a social and cultural system. Sophisticated cybernetic processes populate the relationship between the social and cultural systems. Such a sociocultural systems approach can be expressed in terms of three ontologically distinct domains contained in a model now called SVS due to Yolles (2006). These domains are: phenomenal (with its social system defined in terms of structures and social behaviours), noumenal (with its virtual system defined in terms of ideate “mental” images and systems of thought), and the existential (with its cultural metasystem that

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guides the phenomenal/noumenal couple). This recognises that every coherent social community has its own culture made up of individuals that, while having their individual worldviews, contribute in some way to a shared social paradigm. The nature of social behaviour changes together with culture. In some further work in process these three distinct systems can also be associated with intelligent collectives, and within this can have assigned metaphorical psychological attributes of consciousness, sub-consciousness and unconsciousness. These Freudian notions can be placed in terms of Wollheim’s (1999) notion about mentality, or in our terms, collective mentality. There are two mental aspects: state and disposition. Mental state consists of impulses, perceptions, imaginings and drives and may be directly related to the Freudian concept of the Id; it is also temporally local to the events that initiate it, transient, relatively brief, and can reoccur frequently to give the impression of maintaining continuity. Mental disposition consists of beliefs, knowledge, memories, abilities, phobias and obsessions are examples of mental dispositions, and it has duration and history (and is therefore said to be temporally global). Both mental states and dispositions are causally related, mental state being able to initiate, terminate, reinforce and attenuate mental disposition. Mental dispositions can also facilitate mental states. Three very general properties characterize these two types of mental phenomena: intentionality, subjectivity and three exclusive grades of consciousness (conscious, preconscious and unconscious). According to Davis (2000), for Wollheim subjectivity may be only associated with mental states, while mental dispositions can only be indirectly experienced through the mental states in which they are manifest. Emotions also play a part in this structure. Emotions are preconscious mental dispositions and cannot be directly experienced, while feelings are mental states (associated with mental dispositions) that can be experienced. A pragmatic epistemological representation of the domains is shown in Figure 1 in which the sociocultural collective is seen as responsive to change from the environment (adapted from Yolles, 1999; Iles and Yolles, 2002, 2003).
Phenomenal / Behavioural domain
Other actors & their behaviours Knowledge migrating / social interacting

Noumenal / organising domain

Existential/ Cognitive domain

Culture
(values, attitudes, beliefs,language, collective mental states) impacting influencing Situation framing Knowledge coalescing

attenuating

Actor
Structure / infrastructure

Virtual images Paradigm(s)/ worldviews(s), collective mental dispositions

altering

organising

Impact of phenomena
e.g., regulation, technology facilitating & constraining
attritioning

disturbing

Polity/order
from decisions using elaboration knowledge Formation / Implementation / politics/operative management

attenuating

Behaviour
using executor knowledge

Identification knowledge for contextual (thematic) decision processes

creating

Figure 1. The SVS model as an influence diagram

There is a recognised need to develop the educational potential of young people in China. An illustration for the need of new managers is as follows: a perceived need to privatise 400,000 state-owned enterprises; the Chinese economy has had an expansion of above 8 per cent since 1979; however, from 1996 to 1998, 108 state-owned enterprises were declared bankrupt, and 80,000 people lost their jobs. China too has one of the most active joint venture markets, but joint ventures across diverse cultures are highly problematic; there is a lack of knowledge of the competitive business market in China. In old style China, universities did not teach management education. Today there has been a significant development of management education through MBA programmes. Most of these have been imported from the west, and ties with western higher education institutions are strengthening. The migration of western management knowledge, and action research workshop approaches There are always major problems associated with knowledge migration for complex messages across diverse cultures. These are illustrated by the problem of the delivery of formal programmes like MBAs, where experts from one culture attempt to impart knowledge to learners from another. It involves two types of knowledge, tacit and explicit. Tacit knowledge is personal, private, and developed through experience, relating to know-how and skill. It is essential to effective management. Explicit knowledge is codified, and expressed in some other way such that it may be transferable. When knowledge is made explicit by a tacit knowledge holder, the task is undertaken with particular meanings in mind that are reflected in the person’s patterns of knowledge. Western MBA programmes often use group workshops to attempt to develop tacit knowledge. There is no tradition of this in China, and students are unaccustomed to it. However, managers and students may respond positively to action oriented, long term, collective approaches to organization development, especially with the support of top management. (Hofstede, 2001). One such approach combines action research and action learning. It is always problematic to transfer intended meanings associated with explicit knowledge because a knowledge source will have distinct patterns of knowledge from a sink (the person who will use the knowledge). In complex situations this is called knowledge migration. The problems of knowledge migration are more obvious in widely diverse cultures that have distinct ways of seeing (e.g. Iles and Yolles, 2002, 2003). One approach that may be very useful in such contexts, reflecting the “community” model of knowledge transfer in China, is action research and learning. In complex situations that have messy problems, like that of the WTO, structured methods of inquiry are required to improve the capacity of organisations to improve. All of these involve knowledge development processes. The shift from a mess to a difficulty requires a structured approach to inquiry. There are two approaches in action research inquiry: open and directed. In open action research people devise their own structure for inquiry through discussion and dialectic, but in directed action research the structure is provided through a predefined paradigm. A fundamental problem of making western knowledge available in Chinese culture is due to knowledge migration. There is probably an inverse relationship between the effectiveness of migrating knowledge across diverse cultures with different sets of

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characteristics, patterns of belief, and horizons of knowledge. By knowledge migration effectiveness we mean that capacity to effectively create a tacit knowledge that can result in similar patterns of behaviour in a given situation and with similar purposes and interests. However, it is difficult to measure effective knowledge migration. There is an alternative to this, and we refer to it as semantic entanglement. Let us explain this term, that originally derives from quantum physics. Both geometric and dynamic aspects of groups engaged in communication can be explored within the context of action research – that is researching through group action. Action research is often taken to be synonymous with action learning. If we wished to differentiate between them, we could say that action research is directed to group processes for discovering relevant knowledge sources and using them. Action learning, however, is directed at acquiring that knowledge through a process of either personal or organisational internalisation through a process of social reflection, occurring through semantic communication within lifeworld (Schutz and Luckmann, 1974) processes in which meaningful communications occur between speakers and hearers who meet for intersubjective affairs like dealing with validity claims, settle disagreements and achieve agreements; it appears as a reservoir of taken-for-granteds, or unspoken convictions that participants in communication draw upon in cooperative processes of interpretation (Habermas, 1987). Action research involves processes of inquiry, and works together with action learning through the primary (normally referred to as tacit knowledge) knowledge creation that occurs through direct experience. When we refer to action research we will imply action learning. While action research enables intervention strategies to be created through structured inquiry, action learning provides for relevant understanding and meaning to occur. Thus, action research is a participant centred approach to structured inquiry through understanding, leading to intervention strategies for change anticipated within its dynamics. The geometry of semantic communication is central to this. For action learning to occur the geometries should entangle experiential (or primary) knowledge amongst the participants (the semantic entanglement), thus improving the possibility of creating normative (objectivised relative to the socioculture) meaning. Exploring structurally the dynamic processes of action research therefore provides illumination about the dynamics of semantic communication that connects to inquiry and intervention. Action research is a flexible group approach to inquiry that seeks interventions through inquiry by means that can produce coherence in complex situations. The coherence is enabled because it draws on the knowledge of all the participants, providing a greater potential to represent the problem situation as a whole. The group inquiry process thus enables messes to be transformed into difficulties, and intervention strategies to result that can improve a problem situation. Both Bennett (1983) and Burnes (1992) support the idea that action research has two base propositions, which are: P1. P2. Change requires action. Successful action is based on analysing the situation correctly, identifying all the possible alternative solutions, and choosing the one most appropriate to the situation at hand.

The second proposition adopts a rational positivist perspective, and thus suffers from two problems that centre on the idea that problem situations are usually messes that occur in a complex world. The word “solution” implies that a problem situation can be eliminated. However, it may only be possible to improve the situation through the creation and use of intervention strategies. Not all the possible alternative intervention strategies may be identifiable. Action research begins with a desire to be involved with the application of one’s scientific interests and discoveries, and is driven by both intellectual pursuits and curiosities, and the interests and needs of the community of which it is part (Maruyama, 1996). Thus, action research is likely to be used to address needs that emerge as most important within communities rather than needs of small numbers of individuals. Action research can also be defined as research on action with the goal of making that action more effective (French and Bell, 1984). At least two forms of action can be identified relating to inquiry and intervention. Our interest in this article will centre on inquiry action. In inquiry action an effective approach to finding appropriate intervention strategies for problem situations must involve a rational, systematic analysis of the issues in question (Burnes, 1992). It must be an approach that secures information, hypotheses and action from all parties involved through collaboration, as well as evaluating the action taken towards improvement for the problem situation. It is part of a change process that must become a learning situation. Here, the participants learn from the research process, the use of theory to investigate the problem and identify improvement, and the process of collaborative action itself. Action research, and in particular inquiry action, is able to define the medium through which a problem situation is perceived and may be changed. It provides a forum in which the interests, purposes and ethics of the various parties to this process may be developed. It is a cyclic process, whereby the group analyses a problem situation through a succession of iterations. Through coordination, the change agent links the different insights and activities within the group so as to form a coherent chain of ideas and hypotheses. A change agent, we should note, is an individual or group that creates an intervention strategy for change, and the purpose of the change agent is to create a learning system in which more can be learned about the possibilities of change. Action research is also a dynamic inquiry process. The form of an inquiry will provide insights concerning the perceived problems that will lead to practical help in the problem situation. From the above discussion, experiences using inquiry action will enable it to be gradually improved. This requires that information can be secured, research questions asked, and intervention action taken from at least all the facilitators involved. Those involved, whether facilitators or stakeholders, should be able to evaluate the potential for change, and agree on action taken towards change that will then be implemented. There are many forms of action research that engage with different degrees of semantic entanglement, and some are more able to encourage this than others. Beer (1994) proposed one approach that represents communication processes metaphorically in terms of the geometry of a molecule, in particular the icosahedron. There are variations on this (Ahmad, 1999), and one of these is the octahedron. The important aspect of the geometric structure does not concern how many sides it has (i.e. 30 for the icosahedron, or 8 for the octahedron), but rather the structural relationships defined within it. We can describe a geometrical structure in terms of

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vertices, struts and faces. Thus, an octahedron has eight struts, six vertices, three internal connections (dotted lines), and eight faces (Figure 2). This can be used as a metaphor to structure group communication. What is important in this metaphor is that communication geometry designs are symmetrical. This is because they are human resource efficient, and efficacious in that they provide a potential for semantic entanglement. In contradistinction, non-symmetric geometries are not efficient, and provide a potential for power centred communications processes in which people may become marginalised and semantic entanglement becomes bounded. We have said that the term semantic entanglement derives from the notion of quantum theory, in particular in the theory of quantum information (Bennett, 2000). Quantum entanglement is the non-classical correlations exhibited among the parts of a composite quantum system, and it has been well demonstrated in the laboratory (Matthews, 2001). When two photons that that are separated across space have no apparent connection but that are in some way paired, they can have shared destinies, and interact with one another,, respectively, influencing the motion or energy state of the other. Measuring the information of one of the pair thus implicitly provides information about that of the other, without further measurement. Quantum entanglement can be created, stored and distributed in a network (Mullins, 2000). This same principle can be applied to action research communities to enable entangled communication geometries that will help the semantic transmission process, and thereby improve the potential to overcome misunderstandings due to knowledge migration. Semantic entanglement refers to the accessible distribution for primary knowledge across the vertices of the communication geometry that enhances lifeworld process between groups within an action research community. This makes understanding more effective because primary knowledge enables more cohesive understanding. This is as opposed to secondary knowledge, for which universal meaning across the geometry can be more limited because of the principle of knowledge migration. Shortly, we shall explain the notion of entanglement. We recall that an action research group is defined within a frame of reference that involves a number of themes connected to a single topic of interest directly associated with a problem situation. Each theme is an action research event, and each event within the geometry should be meaningfully entangled with every other event to form a universal knowledge and meaning.
Blue Strut (participant /dialogue) Green Yellow Critic Scribe Orange Red Vertex (team /topic / event / local lifeworld)

Figure 2. Geometry of an octahedron showing how semantic entanglement can develop within action research meetings

White

Thus, in the geometry of Figure 2, if each of the six events is mutually entangled, each event will have information ascribed to it that is also a property of the other events. The entanglement occurs either through strut participants or critics/scribes. Reminiscent of Luhmann’s social theory of communication (Luhmann, 1995) a strut participant can be seen as a dialogue. Thus, an event is the result of an interaction of dialogues in a local lifeworld that generates normative meaning and agreement over a given theme. However, the character of each local lifeworld will be distinct due to its worldview composition, and hence the nature of the normative meanings will differ from one local lifeworld to another. We have said that our interest in entanglement relates to primary knowledge, because this contributes more to effectively countering the knowledge migration process than secondary knowledge. The explanation of this is as follows. Since, not all participants will have direct experience of all local lifeworlds, then not all participants will have primary knowledge of all thematic dialogues either. This may not be a major problem when geometries are small like that of the octagon, because the greatest unconnected distance between any two local lifeworlds will be short. Thus, in Figure 2, yellow and red vertices will only be separated by one vertex (blue, green white or orange), while in an icosahedron there will be more intervening vertices that distances common meaning. This implies an entanglement principle:
The effectiveness of establishing coherent meaning across an organisation is dependent upon the proportion that entangles primary knowledge. Coherent meaning between two groups is inversely related to the number of untangled thematic events that intervene between them.

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One way of addressing this in an entangled geometry is to give an additional role to a scribe. It will have to be that of relating, from primary knowledge, the normative meanings that have been developed in distant local lifeworlds. This provides the primary knowledge entanglement that we have been considering with respect to the whole geometry of the action research group. In this way, any developments of understanding and meaning that occur in one theme are reflected in changes in the others. As in quantum processes, this can be expressed in terms of holistic event correlations within the self-organising group process. These correlations relate to the information contained in the geometry, which is reflected in the communication dialogues. Projection of the whole quantum geometry results in meaning that may be thought of as conceptually filling the internal space of the geometry. This appears to relate to Beatty’s (1994, p. 324) concept of a meaning space. It is only through the participants of an action research group that meaning can evolve. As the participant membership changes, so the nature of quantum entanglement also changes, as does meaning. This has implication for the description of syntegrations that occur electronically with a fluxing participant membership, rather than personally and with more membership continuity. Reflection Entry to the WTO in China will impact on Chinese organizations in both the state and independently owned sectors, requiring organizational transformation. This is particularly evident in the banking industry. Approaches to OD are undeveloped in China, but Chinese organizations may respond well to action research/action learning

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based approaches that are aligned with their long-term, pragmatic and collectivist orientations and tolerance for ambiguity (Hofstede, 2001). One way of developing such an approach is based on SVS theory. Action research approaches are needed that will create semantic entanglement, enabling the implicit problems of knowledge migration inherent in traditional training programmes that intend to deliver management principles capable of dealing with such change processes. The implications of the ideas of this paper about the knowledge migration and semantic entanglement has implications for all forms of cross cultural process, from education in western approaches to management (as occurs through Master’s programmes) to joint ventures or alliances (Yolles, 2000; Iles and Yolles, 2003). It suggests in either case the need for situation based action research approaches with cross cultural participants to encourage effective knowledge migration; effective in that it results in semantic entanglement and facilitates organization development and transformational change.
References Ahmad, A.B. (1999), “The pluralist perspective of team syntegrity: design and inversion strategy for organisational change”, PhD thesis, Liverpool Business School, John Moores University, Liverpool. Beatty, D. (1994), “One man’s signal is another man’s noise: another facilitator’s perspective, contained”, in Beer, S. (Ed.), Beyond Dispute: The Intervention of Team Synegrity, Wiley, Chichester, pp. 323-32. Beer, S. (1994), Beyond Dispute: The Invention of Team Syntegrity, Wiley, Chichester. Bennett, C.H. (2000), Quantum Information Science, No. NSF-00-101, National Science Foundation Publication, Arlington, VA, available at: wwwnsfgov/pubs/2000/nsf00101/ nsf00101 Bennett, R. (1983), “Management research”, Management Development Series 20, International Labour Office, Geneva. Burnes, B. (1992), Managing Change, Pitman Publishing, London. China Daily (2002), China Daily, available at: www.chinadaily.com.cn/en/doc/ (accessed 8 May 2004). Davis, D.N. (2000), “Agents, emergence, emotion and representation, emergent behaviour of complex human-machine interaction (session chair)”, paper presented at IEEE International Conference on Industrial Electronics, Control and Instrumentation (IECON2000), Nagoya, available at: www2.dcs.hull.ac.uk/NEAT/dnd/papers/iecon.pdf French, W.L. and Bell, C.H. (1984), Organisational Development, Prentice-Hall, Englewood-Cliffs, NJ. Habermas, J. (1987), The Theory of Communicative Action,Vol. 2, Polity Press, Cambridge, MA. Hofstede, G. (2001), Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviours, Institutions and Organisations Across Nations, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA. Iles, P.A. and Yolles, M.I. (2002), “Across the great divide: HRD, technology translation and knowledge migration in bridging the knowledge gap between SMEs and Universities”, Human Resource Development International, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 23-53. Iles, P.A. and Yolles, M.I. (2003), “International HRD alliances in viable knowledge migration and development: the Czech Academic Link Project”, Human Resource Development International, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 301-24.

Luhmann, N. (1995), Social Systems, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, translated from the German edition on 1984. Maruyama, G. (1996), “Application and transformation of action research in educational research and practice”, Systems Practice, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 85-101. Matthews, R. (2001), “Entangled clouds raise hope of teleportation”, New Scientist Online News, 26 September. Mullins, J. (2000), “Entangled web”, New Scientist Magazine, Vol. 166 No. 2239, 20/05/2000, p. 26. Schutz, A. and Luckmann, T. (1974), The Structures of the Lifeworld, Heinamann, London. Story, J. (2004), “China: workshop of the world? The CEA (UK)”, Newsletter, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 16-29. Sun, X. and Jellis, M. (2004), “The impact on China’s HR strategy after its accession to the WTO: a critical review of overseas management training and development programmes”, paper presented at Chinese Economic Association (UK) Conference 2004 Middlesex University, London, April. Wollheim, R. (1999), On the Emotions, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. Yolles, M.I. (1999), Management Systems: A Viable Systems Approach, Financial Times Management, London. Yolles, M.I. (2000), “The theory of viable joint ventures”, Cybernetics and Systems, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 371-96. Yolles, M.I. (2006), Organisations as Complex Systems: An Introduction to Knowledge Cybernetics, Information Age Publishing Inc., Greenwich, CT. Further reading Butterfield, F. (1982), China: Alive in the Bitter Sea, Times Books, New York, NY. Kluckhohn, F.R. and Strodtbeck, F.L. (1961), Variations in Value Orientations, Row, Peterson, Evanston, IL. Lowe, S. and Oswick, C. (1996) in Gatley, S., Lessem, R. and Altman, Y. (Eds), Culture: The Invisible Filters, Chapter 6, McGraw-Hill, London, pp. 90-116, Corporate management: A transcultural odyssey. Yolles, M.I. and Guo, K. (2003), “Paradigmatic Metamorphosis and Organisational Development”, Sys. Res., Vol. 20, pp. 177-1999. About the authors Maurice Yolles is a Professor of Management Systems at Liverpool John Moores University, based in the Business School. His doctorate, completed more than a decade ago, was in mathematical social theory, in particular the formal dynamics of peace and conflict. His research book on management systems was published in 1999, and his new book Organisations as Complex Systems is due out shortly. He has published more than 140 papers in refereed journals, conferences and book chapters, mostly in managerial cybernetics and its development in social collectives, International Joint Alliance Theory, and Human Resource Management. He is the editor of the International Journal of Organisational Transformation and Social Change (OTSC). He is also the vice president of the International Society of Systems Science. His main teaching area is in Change and Knowledge Management, and he heads the Centre for Creating Coherent Change and Knowledge. Within this context he has also been involved in, and run, a number of international research and development projects for the EU under various programmes within countries experiencing transformational change, including involvement in TEMPUS projects in central and eastern European countries. He has also lectured and run organisational change

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programmes in China. Maurice Yolles is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: m.yolles@livjm.ac.uk Paul Iles is the Professor of Strategic HRM and Head of the Centre for Leadership and Organisational Change at Teesside Business School, University of Teesside, UK. A Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, chartered psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, his research interests are in the areas of HRM, HRD, and international HRM. He was previously at the Open University Business School and Liverpool John Moores University. He is the co-editor of the International Journal of Organisational Transformation and Social Change and assistant editor of the Journal of Technology Management in China. He is also the Vice-President of the Chinese association for Management of Technology and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Managerial Psychology and Journal of European Industrial Training. He has published in among other journals Human Relations, the British Journal of Management, Leadership, and the International Journal of Human Resource Management. E-mail: paul.iles@tees.ac.uk Kaijun Guo was a lecturer in a Chinese institution, who eventually moved on to become involved in the Chinese banking system, where he developed managerial experience. He has recently completed his doctorate in Management Systems at Liverpool John Moores University and is currently a consultant in organisational development and change. E-mail: guokj@yahoo.com

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