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A passion for learning Chinese?


Investigating a community-based Chinese

cultural education school in Hamilton,
New Zealand
Miche`le E.M Akoorie, Qiang Ding and Yafei Li
Department of Strategy and Human Resource Management,
Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand
Purpose Following the Olympic Games of 2008 and the World Expo in 2010, many Westerners
have increasingly begun to pay attention to China; a country which combines ancient history with
modern economic achievements. As a consequence there has been renewed interest in the West in
learning about Chinese language and culture. Confucius education schools have even begun to spring
up round the world, with the intention of promoting interest in Chinese language and cultural
influences. The purpose of this paper is to focus on a community-based Chinese culture education
institution, in a provincial city in New Zealand, to understand the issues and risks of operating a
cross-cultural education institution business in a foreign country which is physically distant from
China and to identify barriers which need to be overcome in order to run such an institution more
Design/methodology/approach This research used a single site case study research design.
Qualitative in-depth interviews were used to develop an understanding of the rich, complex and
idiosyncratic nature of human phenomena. In total, ten interviews were conducted with the Principal,
Board members, teachers, local students of Institute A, students parents (both Chinese and
New Zealand), and institutional outsiders.
Findings It was found that Institutes management team preferred the traditional Chinese
educational methods which conflicted with ways used in the local (New Zealand) teaching system. It
also found that the current management style conflicts with the professional style of organization
management. The management team had a chaotic management and operational style, while lacking
basic knowledge of the principles of effective administration concepts.
Practical implications Identifying the risks and issues associated with the operation of a
community-based cultural education institution outside China will assist managers to understand the
potential for cross-cultural clashes between their belief in the principles of traditional Chinese
education systems and the fit with the local culture. The finding of this study, in identifying the
specific issues in relation to operational and professional modes of management, should assist
managers to put into place an administrative system which is sufficiently flexible to accommodate
both perspectives.
Originality/value Although formerly a bi-cultural nation, New Zealand has increasingly become a
multicultural society. Interest in Chinese language and culture has also been fuelled by New Zealands
shift in immigration policy from 1974 (to a skills based rather than an ethnicity policy). This study is a
first attempt to evaluate the efficacy of a Chinese community-based educational institution in
New Zealand.

Chinese Management Studies

Vol. 5 No. 4, 2011
pp. 460-479
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/17506141111183497

Keywords China, New Zealand, National cultures, Educational systems and institutions,
Community-based education, Risk management
Paper type Research paper

In recent years, interaction between China and New Zealand has developed strongly in
the areas of tourism, trade and investment. China ranks as New Zealands fourth
largest export destination while China is the second ranked country in terms of imports
(China FTA, 2010; NZIER, 2005). Between 1999 and the end of 2010, the Chinese visitor
market to New Zealand grew from just over 20,000 visitors to more than 120,000.
Chinese arrival numbers surpassed the number of arrivals from South Korea and
Japan in 2008, making China New Zealands fourth largest inbound market (Tourism
New Zealand, 2011). In particular, after signing a free trade agreement in 2008
(OSullivan, 2008), China and New Zealand have developed strong and friendly
relationships. These factors will undoubtedly lead to further cultural and educational
communication between the two countries (Ye, 2002).
Meanwhile, with the changes to the structure of the world economy, such as the rise of
emerging markets, the New Zealand Government has also realized the importance of
promoting and learning second languages (NZIER, 2005; Li, 2010) although New Zealand
has always been considered basically a monolingual country (NZIER, 2005). Even
though both Maori and English are official languages in New Zealand, in practice
English is most widely used. Interest in Chinese language and culture has also been
fuelled by New Zealands shift in immigration policy from 1974 (to a skills based rather
than an ethnicity policy). The latest Census (2006) data showed that New Zealand has an
increasingly diverse population. In 2006, the Asian ethnic group was New Zealands
fourth largest major ethnic group after European, Maori, and other ethnicity, totaling
354,552 people (9.2 percent). Because of this, more Asian educational institutions have
appeared in New Zealand, especially Chinese cultural and educational schools (Ye, 2002).
For example, according to the new primary and secondary syllabus for New Zealand
schools, primary and secondary foreign language courses will become compulsory
(NZIER, 2005). The Chinese language will be one of the major courses which the
New Zealand Ministry of Education wishes to promote (NZIER, 2005). The Minister of
Education, Joyce Stevens, stated that the numbers of young students who were learning
Chinese had doubled in the previous five years (Li, 2010).
However, the monolingual environment in New Zealand is still a major barrier
hindering people from learning other languages (Chen, 2008). The principal of a
New Zealand primary school, Bruce Belmont, thought that the key barriers to
New Zealanders learning Chinese were the lack of time and resources (Chen, 2008). He
believed that in a crowded curriculum, they could not find any time to arrange Chinese
language courses (Chen, 2008). He also stated that it is hard for schools to find
professional Chinese language teachers (Chen, 2008). One Chinese Ambassador to
New Zealand said that he had tried to promote Chinese courses to the primary and
secondary schools in Auckland and Wellington, but the idea has not been taken up
(Nie, n.d.). The New Zealand Confucius Institute has offered to provide free Mandarin
courses to the schools in Auckland, but only a few schools said that they would be
willing to try the courses (Li, 2010). So, in reality the issue of promoting Chinese language
education in New Zealand schools has not eventuated.
An alternative way forward is to support the development of Chinese language and
culture community-based private education providers in New Zealand. Thus, this
provided the stimulus for this present research. The purpose of this paper is to carry out
an investigation of one of these community-based Chinese cultural education providers





located in a provincial city in New Zealand. Through interviewing a cross-section of

people in the case institute this research intends to look at the cross-cultural dimension
of embedding community-based traditionally oriented education provision in
New Zealand and whether there is the potential to expand into providing courses for
local students.
The focus on learning the Chinese language and learning about their cultural roots
represents the desire of parents of New Zealand-born Chinese students to stay connected
to their cultural past. The notion of community-based private education providers
offering these courses is a response to the limited resources available in the state sector.
It also stands in marked contrast to the earlier experience of new Asian immigrants
from China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore who in the 1990s faced discrimination
from a primary school (Epsom Normal) which amended its enrolment policy to turn
away children who lived in the school zone. Parents had to arrange and pay for
additional tutoring in English at school or from private tutors. The families affected,
were able to mobilize mainstream and community media to fight the issues arising
from the controversy so as prevent other issues threatening the interests of their
community (Pang, 2003).
In New Zealand there has been a long history of racial exclusion involving Chinese
migrants dating from the nineteenth century and there is also evidence of tensions
between the old New Zealand-born Chinese whose ancestors came during this early
wave of immigration (of Chinese sojourners (unaccompanied males) to work in the
New Zealand gold fields) and the new Chinese who have immigrated to New Zealand
since the change in immigration policy in 1974 (Ip, 2003).
The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. The next section focuses on the
literature relevant to this topic namely, cross-cultural education, community education
and cross-cultural education and finally cross-cultural education and risk management.
The third section introduces the research method used in this report. The fourth part is
related to the results and findings on institute A and then in the fifth part the paper
focuses on the discussion and findings. Finally, we offer some conclusions and discuss
the managerial implications of our findings.
Literature review
Cross-cultural education
The purpose of cross-cultural education is to offer the opportunity to everyone who
comes from different social, ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds to learn about a
different culture (Robinson, 1981). In a cross-cultural educational school, students have
more chance to learn a new culture, language and experience; it also matches global
trends towards increasingly multicultural societies, particularly in advanced Western
economies and those developing countries which follow export-led industrialization
policies (Edwards, 2001). Cross-cultural education can promote educational equality for
students from diverse groups (Edwards, 2001), which consists of three things: ideas,
educational reform movements and process (Robinson, 1981). Taking China as an
example, with the rapid development of the Chinese economy, China is expanding its
areas of cultural and educational exchanges and cooperation with other countries
(Robinson, 1981).
In New Zealand, the Confucius Institute, which is a Chinese language school, was
established by The University of Auckland (Wang, 2005). The institutes purpose

is to offer cross-cultural educational training to help New Zealanders learn more about
Chinese culture and language; to provide better learning conditions for Chinese learners
in New Zealand and to meet the needs of New Zealanders wanting to communicate
with the Chinese (Wang, 2005). The Confucius Institute also wants to help more
New Zealanders to understand Chinese customs, business etiquette and history, which
will become the key bridge of communication between the two countries (Wang, 2005).
This gives rise to the first proposition:

Changes in the composition of New Zealand society and increasing interactions

in trade and tourism will lead to increased demand for cross-cultural language
and learning.

Community education and cross-cultural studies

As discussed earlier there are significant barriers to promoting Chinese culture and
learning Chinese language in regular schools. However, community-based schools can
also play a role in promoting culture and learning (Li, 2010). Community education is a
philosophy and set of principles that advocates for the creation of life-long learning
opportunities for community members individuals, schools, businesses, and public
and private organizations to become partners in addressing community needs. An
example of community education is the community school, a facility that is open beyond
the traditional school day for the purpose of providing academic, recreation, health,
social service, and work-preparation programs for people of all ages. Community
education encompasses a wide spectrum of disciplines, including before and after
school, youth development, adult basic education all connected by the principles of the
field and the belief that through education and learning, individuals and their
communities can be transformed (NCEA, 2010).
In the Chinese context the community is the basic unit of social development (Wu,
2003). It is also the environment in which people live within a certain space (Yun, 2000).
In modern life, people cannot be separated from the community and they are also
subject to the influence of living in a community environment (Wu, 2003).
Community education is organized by communities (Wu, 2003). The purposes
of community education are to foster professional talents or provide the culture or arts
courses for the community members (Wu, 2003). Sometimes therefore, communities
establish a community school or use some other common place to organize special
activities to undertake and carry out community educational work (Yun, 2000).
Educational activities have become the responsibility of the community (Yun, 2000).
In the process of the community educational development, different countries have
moved along different paths (Yang, 2000). These different paths reflect the different
characteristics of each society and form a different understanding of community education
(Yang, 2000). In the Nordic countries, community education is defined as public education
(Yang, 2000). Their educational target is youths and adults and they carry out educational
activities which are aimed at improving peoples quality of life (Yang, 2000). In Japan,
community education is defined as social education (Yang, 2000). The Japanese Social
Education Act which was promulgated in 1949 clearly defines social education as
organized educational activities for all members of society (Yang, 2000). In the USA,
community education is defined as a non-formal society educational service which
is provided to the community (Yun, 2000). In US community schools, the range of the
contents of community education is broad (Yun, 2000). The community schools





organize courses based on the actual needs of community members (Yun, 2000). The
teaching forms and methods of community schools are flexible, but the courses are usually
non-credit and they do not give diplomas and degrees (Yun, 2000).
The forms of community schools in Britain are similar to those in America. In
Scotland, community education is considered a method or process which can affect
individual learning (Yun, 2000). In China, people regard community education as the
new style educational model (Wang, 2005). In addition, community education is defined
as coordinating school education and social education, which creates an environment
which is conducive for study (Wang, 2005).
In order to promote Chinese culture, maintain Chinese national identity and enhance
social cohesion and competitiveness, many of the overseas Chinese communities have
begun to establish Chinese community schools (Wang, 2005). Chinese community
schools are an important form of promoting Chinese culture for Chinese people living
overseas (Wang, 2005). The American community Chinese school called Hua Xia was
built in 2001 with 90 percent of the capital contributions coming from students parents
donations (Yun, 2000). The School was regarded by the media as the first new Chinese
immigrant community school, which signaled that Chinese immigrant communities
were thriving and becoming stronger (Yun, 2000).
The American Chinese School Association was founded in 1994. In 1995, members
of the association increased to nearly 50 schools (Huang, 2004). By 2004, more than
200 schools had become members of this association (Huang, 2004). The association aims
to improve Chinese teaching methods and management experience and the level of the
Chinese education is close to achieving the standard of the American universities
Chinese education system (Huang, 2004). The member schools of this association
teach Chinese courses which conform to language standards and new technology. These
courses are attracting more and more Chinese Americans (Huang, 2004). The
South African Chinese Culture Association, the UK Chinese Schools Association, and
Canadian Chinese Education Association are all similar to the American Chinese School
Association (Yun, 2000).
In New Zealand, the Community Chinese schools belong to community education
organizations (Ye, 2002). There are many Chinese communities supporting the building
of Chinese schools (Ye, 2002). For example, the Auckland Modern Chinese School was set
up by the Chinese Community Association in New Zealand (Huang, 2004). There are
600 students in this school, mainly being new immigrants and native-born Chinese
children (Huang, 2004). Recently, the school opened three branches (Huang, 2004).
These trends form the basis of our second proposition which is:

Where there are significant Chinese migrant groups community-based

schools will meet the demand for education for new migrants and for
native-born Chinese children.

The relationship between cross-cultural education business and risk management

Risk is the uncertainty of the incident in the future (Chapman and Ward, 2003). The US
project management institution states that the risks to the management of intercultural
education schools are caused by the potential impact of positive and negative events
(Chapman and Ward, 2003). A positive event means that risk could bring beneficial
opportunities for educational projects (Chapman and Ward, 2003). On the other hand
the impact of a negative event means that risk could bring threats or crisis to the school

(Chapman and Ward, 2003). It is thus clear that the risk itself is neutral, so the nature of
risk depends on the level of the schools risk management.
Risk management is the core component of an organizational strategic management
plan (Froot et al., 1993). The objective of risk management is to continue to organize
benefits for their organizations (Froot et al., 1993). Through a series of practical steps, the
risk controller systematically connects the risks with the relative management actions
in order to minimize their costs (Chapman and Ward, 2003). In running an intercultural
education school using risk management techniques, the biggest challenge is to
maximize the schools combined revenue through systematic planning, implementation
and control of the schools running risks by using general management methods
(Chapman and Ward, 2003).
As a development strategy, using risk management as a sustainable development
tool is the appropriate inevitable choice for intercultural education schools (Froot et al.,
1993). In terms of target management, the ultimate objective of risk management
is to help intercultural education managers to follow a well-sustained and stable
development path (Chapman and Ward, 2003). Managers need to develop management
systems which acknowledge the importance of risk management in an intercultural
educational institution. Risk management will help the schools management team to
know what kinds of crises they will face and how to avoid them, so as to maximize the
benefits and the development of the school.
In the field of education management, the management of intercultural education
institutions is new, complex and quite difficult (Froot et al., 1993). Various organizations
are starting up in different countries, or working with different sponsoring organizations
(Froot et al., 1993). These institutions face an open work environment, more external
influencing factors, high uncertainty, low task complexity, high innovation and high
risks in the operations of the school (Froot et al., 1993). In the process of institutional
management, it is easy to cause the occurrence of risk events. For instance, if the director
or managers of a school do not know the foreign educational environment well, it can
create a conflict of educational philosophies (Froot et al., 1993). Risks can be caused
by such events as: countries political and military issues; high levels of competition in
the sector; departure of core teachers; personality clashes; personal injuries or accidents,
serious mismanagement of the school and/or students and natural disasters such
as swine flu (Chapman and Ward, 2003). Therefore, understanding the risks and the
reasons causing the risks is important for the directors of intercultural education
institutions in managing their businesses. This brings us to our final proposition:

Where community-based schools are established to meet the needs of a migrant

group wishing to retain contact with their own language and culture there is
potential for conflict between these institutions and the external environment.
However, it can also be viewed as an opportunity if risk management
techniques are used to mitigate risk situations.

In summary then, the propositions outlined can be developed into a conceptual figure
which shows the interaction between these elements and is then tested against the
empirical evidence derived from the interview data at the case study site.
So, Figure 1 shows, the interaction between the three elements of the model
has the potential to be either a vicious cycle of conflict (Tolentino, 1993) between
the community-based education based on Chinese educational philosophies



Host Nation NZ Changing


Limited Resources from

state education sources

Immigration, investment
and tourism patterns

promotes establishment

FTA China/NZ

Of community based

Demand for crosscultural education

Figure 1.
An interaction model
of community-based

Potential conflict
between Chinese
And host country
Risk management for

and the educational objectives of the host country (assimilation) and the desire of parents
of New Zealand-born Chinese children to maintain a connection with their home country
culture. Or it could be a virtuous circle where the current and subsequent interactions
between the elements of the model lead to enhanced cultural understandings between
the new immigrants and the home country population. However, adding to this cultural
mix are the tensions between the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, the Maori, tangata
whenua, who argue that they were not consulted about the shift in immigration policy in
1987. Ip (2009, p. xi) convincingly argues that it was not the change of policy per se which
caused the social disruption but that it was the advent of this new, apparently affluent
and upwardly mobile social class [which] has become a convenient target of criticism
from both Pakeha (European) and Maori.
This study is positioned as a contextualized case study. As Welch et al. (2011) point out,
case study research is often used as an exploratory method (leading on to calls for further,
more rigorous research, i.e. quantitative survey research). However, Yin (2009), a long
standing exponent of case study research, has been at pains to emphasize that case
studies can be used as ways of proposing causal mechanisms and linkages and to test
existing theory. Welch et al. (2011) also argue against the de-contextualization of case
studies; in their analysis of case study research spread across three highly ranked journals
( Journal of International Business Studies, Academy of Management Journal, and Journal
of Management Studies) they found that there is an entrenched view that context free
universalist knowledge is superior to that of context valid, localized knowledge.

It is difficult to see how a researcher can possibly ignore the context in which the
research is undertaken particularly in the case of study such as this which makes
explicit the importance of context in explaining the different perspectives taken by
immigrant or New Zealand born Chinese students and the providers of a traditional
Confucian-based education in a community school.
This research used qualitative in-depth interviews as the research method at a
single study site, namely; a community-based Chinese language school in a provincial
city in New Zealand. We used this approach to develop an understanding of the rich,
complex and idiosyncratic nature of human phenomena (Cavana et al., 2000, p. 12) and
gain an in-depth understanding of the ideas of the interviewees. The qualitative
method mainly focuses on finding the reasons why people make decisions (Merriam,
1988). Therefore, qualitative researchers prefer to choose specific and smaller groups of
people or samples for the investigation (Cavana et al., 2000). The advantage of the
qualitative research method is that it can help develop a detailed understanding of the
research project, but also it can help create new theories or concepts (Merriam, 1988).
However, the disadvantage of the qualitative research method is that it only focuses
on a small group of interviewees (Merriam, 1988). Interviews from qualitative research
cannot be thought to be typical and comprehensive of the whole population. In terms of
this research, the researchers used the method of face-to-face interviews with selected
people. Using face-to-face interviews helped the researchers to get a better
understanding of institute As administrative and educational conditions. Then,
based on the results of the interviews, the researchers carried out a risk assessment to
find out what the risks are, how they can manage these risks and offer suggestions on
how to improve the management of their operations.
Data collection and analysis
Ten interviews were conducted with the principal, board members, teachers, local
students of institute A, students parents (both Chinese and New Zealand) and interested
parties (who were outside the institutional environment of institute A) to collect the
primary data for this research (Appendices 1-5). All of these people were interviewed,
using a set of prepared, systematic and straight forward questions and discussing some
issues and opinions with them through amplified and specific key questions. In this
research, the use of prepared and systematic questions avoided the chaotic and confused
issues that can appear in the process of an interview. Interviews were conducted in the
native language of the interviewee (either Mandarin or English) then, recorded (with the
permission of the interviewees) and the resulting tapes were then translated (if in
Mandarin) to English and then transcribed into written format.
In addition, secondary sources were consulted such as the sustainability reports of
cross-cultural businesses in New Zealand and relevant articles on cross-cultural
educational business. The research used content analysis as a technique (Krippendorf,
2004) to examine the transcribed interview material to ascertain whether the institutes
new project carries any management risks and what issues they might face. Following
Krippendorf (2009, p. 48) we listened to the linguistic expressions of the interviewees to
try to understand what they meant to say and respect what they said in an account of the
situation in which they found themselves. For this reason the names of the institutions
and the identity of the interviewees has been disguised in order to maintain their





Case background
The case institution (institute A) is a not-for-profit community educational school in a
provincial city in New Zealand. Its main purpose is to teach Chinese language and
culture to local Chinese children who were born in New Zealand. The ultimate aim of
the institute is for these children to understand Chinese traditions and to learn more
about Chinese culture.
There are two main sources of income for the institute. One is through New Zealand
Government funding which supports community education (although the expenditure
on community education is increasingly coming under budgetary scrutiny). Another
source is from students tuition fees (personal communication, principal M).
At the institute, the tuition fee for each student is currently NZD3.50 per hour. The
total number of students is around 100 and this number is quite stable. The basic income
and expenditure is evenly balanced. The institute has been operating for 15 years and
now has about 20 employees including ten teachers. The wages for teachers are
NZD15.00 per hour for each teacher. The principal said that the teachers and other staff
in the institute are mainly driven by a dedication to this community work. Almost all of
the teachers have little educational experience and only a few have qualifications and
experience of teaching in China (personal communication, principal M).
Table I reports on the characteristics of the institute (institute A) co-aligned with an
interpretation of transcriptions from the interviews.
The biggest competitor of institute A is a formal Chinese language school in the same
provincial city, called institute B. It is a private school and also a non-profit organization.
The differences between these two institutes are as follows. First, their purposes are
different. Institute B mainly focuses on education whereas institute As primary focus is
on servicing the Chinese community in a New Zealand provincial city. Second, institute
A has operated for 15 years, but institute B has only been operating for four years. Third,
institute A has more interaction with social activities. For example, every year they will
provide performance opportunities for their students in the provincial city. On the other
hand institute B has never joined in these community activities. In addition, institute A is
involved in after-school care for its students. There are specific after-school care teachers
in institute A, but no additional fees are added for this service (personal communication,
principal M).
The board members and principal of institute A are appointed by the parents of
students. The director and board are independent. The board focuses on the funding,
but the director focuses on the management and administration (personal
communication, principal M).
The results of interviewing board members, the principal and the CEO of
institute A
The purpose of interviewing board members, the principal and the CEO of institute A
was to find out about their aims and plans for institute As operation and the
management concepts. We also wanted to know the advantages and issues of institute A
from the angle of a practical manager. Here we report on dialogue which allows each
participant to interrogate his or her own history and grow beyond it (Krippendorf,
2009, p. 48).


The management team is lacking in professional management

knowledge, especially their misunderstanding of the concept of
community education
Poor communication between the teachers, parents, students, and
institute As management team
Institutes As long standing lack of capital and an unstable source of
funding support
The irregular way that CLC recruits teachers. Some of the teachers
are perceived negatively by some students which will bring down
the teaching quality and could give the school a bad reputation
Communication between the management team at institute A is low
and is inefficient
Conflict between different teaching styles experienced by students.
State and private schools in New Zealand professionally qualified
teachers; student centered; Confucian teaching style rote learning
and memorization
Salaries not competitive with state and private sector schools. State
and private primary and secondary school teachers need nationally
approved teacher training qualifications and formally registered on
a national teaching register

15-year history of running the school; systemic Chinese teaching

methods; institute A has a stable relationship with the local Chinese
community; can get more support from the Chinese community; a
regular source of students from the Chinese community every year;
has more interaction with social activities; often liaises with cultural
organizations for Korean, Malaysian, Thai, and Indian people in this
provincial city
Weaknesses Unable to handle its internal management issues and it has no
unified organization, coordination and management capacity




[. . .] there is overlapping of task allocation in the management team.

This situation has caused me to carry the heavy burden of
responsibility for the school, so I always feel tired and this
contributes towards low working efficiency of the organization
(personal communication, principal M)
[they] appear to believe that a non-profit organization just needs to
maintain a balance of receipts and payments and does not need to
seek opportunities and benefits to support its development. This
operational concept leads to a capital shortfall, and [they] do not
have enough money to pay normal salaries to [their teachers]. We
cannot afford additional part time staff (Personal communication,
principal M)
For example, the students from one class said that they wanted to
change their teacher, but [I] had no idea that this situation was
causing a problem (personal communication, student H)
The low wages paid to the teachers means that they are unable to
retain good teachers at the school (personal communication,
teacher A)
most of the teachers at the institute did not have previous teaching
experience, so they lack professional educational knowledge. This
could leads to poor teaching quality (personal communication,
teacher B)

[. . .] can enhance the understanding of each others culture, and

improve CLCs reputation (personal communication, principal M)

Selected personal communication



Table I.
Results of interviews in
institute A

Table I.


Selected personal communication


Unable to communicate and discuss ideas freely between members For instance, in terms of planning the promotion of Chinese culture
of staff. Mismatched goals and objectives
to the local people, the members of the management team have
different ideas. On\the other hand the CEO is ultra conservative and
he just wants to maintain the present student levels. Even so, they
actually did not know about each others ideas (personal
communication, CEO N)
Opportunity Potential markets exist With the Expo and Olympic Games being For example, I [the Principal] would prefer to promote Chinese
culture to the local people and expand their education market
held in China, more and more foreigners are beginning to pay
(personal communication, principal M)
attention to Chinese culture. Especially since China and New
Zealand have signed a free trade agreement, which is beneficial for
Chinese promotion by the institute to New Zealand students and
businesspeople (China FTA, 2010; NZIER, 2005)
Internal management confusion and having no unified organization, Due to the operational concept of a community education, the
coordination and management capacity. This situation causes the institute has limited capacity in its management and operation
principal to carry a work overload and there are resultant risks to (personal communication, principal M)
CLCs operating structure
The lack of professional management knowledge is also a threat to
Management staff do not have professional knowledge
Student expectations are not being met. Mismatch between teaching institute A (personal communication, teacher A)
experience received at their regular schools and experience at the The irregular method of recruiting teachers is a huge threat and
could ruin the institutes reputation (personal communication,
Future development may be comprised because of the low pay issue teacher A)
The low pay for teachers is also a threat because the low salary
which makes it difficult to retain good teachers
structure makes it hard to retain good teachers and it will be a
barrier to the development of the institute (personal communication,
teacher B)



From the results of interviewing board members, the principal and the CEO of,
institute As the research found that the CEO and most board members did not have a
comprehensive knowledge of the operational status of the school. In addition the
operational approach of institute As management team is very conservative. The goal
of board members, principal and CEO of institute A is just trying to make ends meet
financially. They do want to find new opportunities for institute A but most of them
are finding this quite difficult. Although the principals view of institute A is relatively
open, he cannot work out the conservative operational status of institute A. The
management team believed that the advantage of institute A is its community nature
and they get along well with the local Chinese community. So they get a regular flow of
students from the local Chinese community. They also said that they have run institute
A for many years, and they have enough teaching experience. They believed that the
major issues are a lack of capital and having enough staff and good teachers. These
issues hamper institute As development and achievement of the status their students
want (personal communication, board members, the principal and the CEO).
The principal also said that he wants to expand the Chinese cultural educational
market to local students in New Zealand, but the problem is that he has no idea how to
accomplish this and he does not know whether he can attract enough local students to
expand this type of education into the local market (personal communication, principal M).
The results of interviewing the teachers of institute A
The purpose of interviewing the teachers in institute A was to find out how they
recruited teachers and why they wanted to teach at the institute. We also wanted to
find out the teachers viewpoints on the issues facing the institute.
In terms of the results from interviewing teachers in institute A, we found that both
Teachers A and B knew about the institute through the local Chinese newspaper. The
motivations for both teachers to join the institute were an interest in teaching and to gain
work experience. Another reason is that both of them thought that teaching Chinese
courses in an overseas country is a meaningful thing and can help Chinese people in
overseas countries to inherit Chinese culture. The teachers thought that one of the
advantages of the institute is that it has been operational for a long time (15 years) and
the teachers have a systematic teaching method. Also the teachers have more Chinese
teaching experience. The main issue that the teachers found was that some of the
teachers in the institute found it hard to adapt to local students ways of learning. The
way of local students learning is exactly opposite to the way of teaching in China. This
created conflict between the students and the teachers. Second, they found that the low
cash flow in the institute results in low pay for teachers, making it hard to recruit good
teachers. This could impact on the quality of teaching. Finally, they questioned the way
the school recruits its teachers. Teacher A said that most teachers did not have previous
teaching experience so they lacked professional educational knowledge. This affects the
quality of the students learning experience (personal communication, teachers A and B).
Interviews with New Zealand students
The purpose of interviewing New Zealand students at the institute was to find out why
these students go to the institute; why they want to learn the Chinese language; what
problems they experience in their learning and what they like about studying at the





A New Zealand university student (H) came to institute A, because he wanted to learn
the Chinese language and understand Chinese culture. His reasons were twofold; one is
that he has a lot of Chinese friends, which made him interested in Chinese culture. The
other reason is that he wants to go to China to work or to do business with Chinese
companies in the future. H quite likes the friendly atmosphere at institute A, but he said
that he did not like his Chinese teachers teaching style. All of his classmates want to
change their present teacher and get someone who is more professional. Another
problem is they do not want to have classes at the weekend as this New Zealand weekend
(a two day holiday) is sacrosanct (personal communication, student H).
Interviews with New Zealand parents
New Zealand parents of students at institute A were asked the same questions. Why
they wanted to send their children to attend institute A; what problems they found as
parents and what they liked about the school.
A New Zealand students mother (C), stated she wanted her child to study a
Chinese dancing course because her child is half Chinese and her child has an interest
in Chinese dancing. Mother C also wants her child to learn more about the Chinese
language and culture before she grows older. The problem for Mother C at the institute
is that she finds it is hard to communicate with most Chinese parents. Institute A offers
students limited chances to get to know each other better. Mother C said that she needs
the opportunity to learn about Chinese family culture and she wants to be able to
get along with other Chinese students families. However, she likes the friendly study
atmosphere at institute A and she has an appreciation of the teacher who teaches her
child (personal communication, mother C).
Interviews with interested parties (outsiders) on institute A
The purpose of interviewing the outsiders of institute A was to find out if local people
have any interest in Chinese culture and what they know about institute A. We also
wanted to find out whether they have been exposed to Chinese culture and what their
feelings about China were.
Mr A has an interest in Chinese culture and he has a basic knowledge of the Chinese
learning school. He said that he already knows something of Chinese culture and history.
Although he cannot speak Chinese, he knows some Chinese words and greetings.
He thought that China is the most interesting country in the world and that it is going
through a transition from the old communist system to a vibrant capitalist based
economy with corresponding social changes. He said that he has a lot of Chinese friends
and students. If he had a chance to learn the Chinese language, he would be able to
communicate with his Chinese friends and students better and this would be his reason
for learning the Chinese language (Personal communication with outsider, Mr A).
The first main issue is that the management team of institute A generally thought that
community-based education organizations should not put monetary gain as their first
priority. They thought the operational ways of institute A should be open and impartial
though they thought that they needed to address the issue of lack of capital if they wished
to pursue future development. According to studies of community-based education
the purpose of community education is not to aim for maximum profit,

but it also does not mean that they should always provide free benefits.
Community-based education also needs to address the issues of survival and
development. That is to say, the principal contradiction is that the open and impartial
operational style which institute A has chosen to pursue is a barrier to its future
The second issue is that some board members of the institute are still shackled by
traditional thinking. They have not developed a formal marketing system, which leads
to low work efficiency. As Principal M said, some of the board members have realized the
importance of marketing and they had begun to make marketing an important part of
their function (personal communication, principal M). Expanding on this issue suggests
that the first reason for the low efficiency of institute A is that they lack ideas or any
concepts about marketing. Community educational institutions have only recently
begun to embrace modern marketing theories (compared with for profit firms) and
they tend to use these theories less in daily practice. This results in a lack of expertise in
the area of marketing (Bryson, 1988). The lack of ideas in institute As management
team is the fundamental reason for the low effectiveness and efficiency in the
The third main issue is that community educators often do not know anything
about market demand for their services. The weakness is that the organization has not
investigated the market demand in enough depth (Bryson, 1988). Through interviewing
the management team of institute A, the researchers found that the management team
knew little about the local market. They said that they had not found out what
New Zealanders think about Chinese learning. So they cannot understand the
developmental patterns and trends of the cultural and language education market
(Bryson, 1988).
The fourth issue is that institute A lacks market positioning and market breakdown.
Community education has not undertaken any systematic, qualitative analysis of the
market and forecasting, to help theme target customers (Bryson, 1988). In the case of
institute A, the management team does not have a systematic approach to its operations.
For example, ten-year-old students share the same class with five-year old students and
have done so for many years. This situation has certainly caused dissatisfaction among
the parents of students.
The fifth issue is that there is the potential for cultural conflict between the teachers
and students in institute A. The cultural conflict issue was first pointed out by Froot et al.
(1993), who stated that when organizations start operating in different countries or are
cooperating with different cultural sponsoring organizations risk events are likely to
emerge. The cultural conflict was reflected in an incident where students from one class
all asked to change their Chinese teacher, because they did not want to put up with their
teachers teaching style any longer.
The last main issue is related to institute As poor innovation ability. In terms of the
concept of educational innovation, it lacks the required knowledge. The administrators
and most of the teachers still remain in the stage of Chinese exam-oriented education.
They have not considered or factored in foreign educational philosophy. This situation
has caused most local students to say that they cannot accept the teaching methods of
their Chinese teachers. However, the Chinese teachers in institute A have not attempted
to change the ways in which they are teaching. This has led to teaching ineffectiveness
and a decline in satisfaction and has damaged their reputation.





Conclusions and implications

In this section, we return to the propositions developed from the literature review,
expressed in the model in Figure 1 and demonstrate how these propositions hold up in
light of the evidence provided from the empirical research from the interviews carried
out at the case study site.
Our P1 was:

Changes in the composition of New Zealand society and increasing

interactions in trade and tourism will lead to increased demand for
cross-cultural language and learning.

This proposition is partially supported from the secondary evidence examined.

Although the principle of language learning is recognized by policy makers; in reality an
already overcrowded curriculum in primary and secondary schools and a commitment
to provide language support and cultural learning to revive and retain the indigenous
language (Te Reo Maori) demonstrates that there is limited support for the inclusion of
other foreign languages (at least in the state sector). From the empirical evidence
provided we can conclude that the demand for Chinese language and cultural course is
primarily driven by the desire of Chinese parents of New Zealand-born children to
maintain a connection with their ancestry and culture. This, however, conflicts with
what happens in mainstream education of New Zealand-born children of foreign
As they assimilate into the New Zealand culture, their links with their Chinese heritage
and language become more tenuous. The New Zealand-born children become the
interpreters of their host countrys mores for their parents and even their grand-parents as
they immigrate to New Zealand through family re-unification policies. This policy has
provisions for older parents to come to New Zealand provided that younger family
members are able to provide financial guarantees with regard to medical care and support.
As for P2, this stated that:

Where there are significant Chinese migrant groups community-based

schools will meet the demand for education for new migrants and for
native-born Chinese children.

This proposition is supported by the evidence examined. Parents of New Zealand-born

children (even if only of half-Chinese ancestry) wish their children to learn about their
cultural roots, their ancestry and their language. Given that there is now significant
migration from Chinese speaking migrant groups, this could serve as a future
advantage for these students; if they are able to develop and maintain a bi-lingual or
even a multi-lingual orientation this would bode well for their future careers. The
European model of multi-lingual capability is one that could be utilized.
The community-based schools seem to be filling the gap where the provision of
language learning and traditional cultural activities is concerned. The perceived gap is
the gradual but seemingly inevitable decline of interest in other foreign language
competence and training in the tertiary education sector in the mistaken belief that
English is the global medium of communication. While other countries have mandated
language learning at the primary and secondary school levels, the New Zealand
education system has made no such provision and the declining enrolments in foreign
language courses in New Zealand universities means that there will be a skills shortage

in the future if the policy to effect the introduction of foreign languages in schools is to be
followed. Most worryingly, foreign languages are principally taught in English and
participating students have limited capability to be able to speak the language they are
learning after completion of their courses.
P3 stated that:

Where community-based schools are established to meet the needs of a migrant

group wishing to retain contact with their own language and culture there is
potential for conflict between these institutions and the external environment.
However, it can also be viewed as an opportunity if risk management
techniques are used to mitigate risk situations.

This proposition is supported by the empirical evidence from the case study. As a
community not-for-profit institute their objectives are to serve the community through
language courses and cultural activities. However, operating a traditional institution in an
environment which is markedly different, in terms of teaching philosophy and style, where
the students learn in an after-school setting, means that, inherently, there is potential for
conflict. Although the institute recognizes the potential for development by reaching out to
the local community, their limited resources, in both capital and human resources, means
that they are unable to undertake the necessary market analysis, market research and
market positioning to be able to determine exactly how they should go down this route.
Finally, by articulating some of these issues for the institute we hope that we can
offer some insights for the institute and for other community organizations operating
in New Zealand and elsewhere of the potential conflict that may exist between the
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Appendix 1. Interview questions for students attending institute A

1. What is your Chinese language level?
2. Are you or your parents of Chinese descent?
3. Why are you attending institute A?
4. Do your enjoy learning at institute A?
5. What kind of Chinese courses are you interested in?
6. How well do you interact with your teacher at institute A?
7. Are the teachers and staff at the institute friendly and approachable?
8. Are you happy with how you are progressing at institute A?
9. Do you think that institute A provides a friendly atmosphere for learning?
10. Do you want to join the activities held by institute A? Would you be interested in
cross-cultural activities?
11. What are your kiwi (New Zealand) friends feelings about Chinese culture?
12. Do you have any problems or issues at institute A?

Appendix 2. Interview questions for parents with students attending institute A

1. Are you or your partner of Chinese descent?
2. Why are your children attend\ing institute A?
3. Does your child/do your children enjoy learning at institute A?
4. What kind of Chinese courses are you interested in?
5. How is your interaction with the teacher at institute A?
6. Are the teachers and staff of institute A friendly and approachable?
7. Are you happy with how your child is progressing at institute A?
8. Do you think that institute A provides a friendly atmosphere for learning?
9. Do you want to join the activities held by institute A? Would you be interested in
cross-cultural activities?
10. What do your friends think about Chinese culture?
11. Do you have any problems or issues with institute A?

Appendix 3. Interview questions for people (randomly selected outsiders)

1. Do you have any interest in Chinese culture? Would you be interested in participating in
Chinese language or Chinese culture learning courses?
2. How much do you know about institute A in city Y?
3. If you had a chance to gain experience of learning Chinese culture, what kind of course
would you want to choose?
4. If you wanted to attend Chinese culture courses, what would you expect to pay for
5. If you wanted to learn about Chinese culture, what method would you prefer, private tuition
or classroom learning?
6. What would be your requirements from a chosen school?
7. How much do you know about China? Can you speak Chinese?





8. If you chose to learn Chinese language, what would be your purpose?

9. What do you think of China as a country?
Appendix 4. Interview questions for board members, the principal and the CEO of
institute A
1. What are the main features of the school? What kind of institute is it?
2. What are the main purposes of this school?
3. What is the value and cultural philosophy of the school?
4. What is the schools current operational scale and scope? How long has it been operating?
5. Do you have any ideas about your competitors? What is the schools major competitive
6. What are the main courses? How students experience Chinese culture (through what kind
of programs and activities?
7. Where do most of the students come from? How do you let them know about your school?
Are there any local students in your school? Do you have any ideas about their attitudes
and perceptions toward your teaching courses?
8. How many teachers are there in your school? How do they find out about your school?
What about their current salaries/wage scale?
9. Are you clear about your own advantages and disadvantages?
10. Do you regularly keep contact with the students parents? How often?
11. Could you comment on your schools financial situation?
12. Do you have any ideas about why students and teachers come to this school?
13. What about the board and management structure?
14. What is the age distribution of the students (including non-Chinese students)?
15. How do you assess the teaching quality and how do you improve it?
16. What is the biggest challenge faced by the school? Are there any other difficulties in
operating the school?
17. Do you have any expectations/plans about schools future development?
Appendix 5. Interview questions with teachers at institute A
1. How did you find out about the school?
2. Why did you select this school to teach at?
3. Are you satisfied with the current salary scale at the school? What do you think about the
schools management (are there any problems at the school)? Do you have some
suggestions about how these problems (if any) may be resolved?
4. Are you clear about schools value concept and teaching purpose?
5. What are your main feelings about working here?
6. What do you think are the biggest challenges faced by the school?
7. Do you regularly keep contact and interact with the students parents?
8. Where are those students mainly coming from?
9. How many non-Chinese students are in your school (class)? Have you ever communicated
with them to know their study interests and requirements? Do they regularly attend the
class or not? Do you have any idea why they are studying here?


Do you often interact with the students after class?

How long do you spend preparing the teaching courses each week?
How is teaching quality measured by the management of the school?
What do you think are the advantages of the school? Have you ever found some
challenges and difficulties during working here?
14. If the school wants to promote the Chinese cultural education to locals in New Zealand,
what do you think of that idea? Will you support it or not?
15. Do you have any expectations/suggestions about schools future development and your
own value enhancement?
About the authors
Dr Miche`le E.M. Akoorie is an Associate Professor in the Department of Strategy and Human
Resource Management, Waikato Management School, The University of Waikato, New Zealand.
She is a graduate of the University of Auckland, New Zealand (BA in English and History), holds
an MBA (with distinction) in Export Management and International Business from City
University, London (now the Sir John Cass Business School) and a DPhil in International
Management from the University of Waikato. Miche`le E.M. Akoorie is the corresponding author
and can be contacted at:
Dr Qiang Ding is an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Strategy and Human Resource
Management, Waikato Management School, The University of Waikato, New Zealand. He holds
a Masters Degree in International Affairs (World History) from Nanjing University (PR China),
a second Masters Degree in International Business and Management from Massey University
(Albany, Auckland) and a PhD in International Management from the University of Waikato.
Yafei Li is an international Masters student majoring in Finance at the Waikato Management
School. She has experience in multicultural research and practice having organized many
cross-cultural activities with students from different cultures. Yafei Li has been involved in
hosting large cultural activities for international students at the Waikato Management School
such as the Chinese Lantern Festival, Chinese Sports Day and the Hamilton Rainbow Concert.
Yafei Li has also taught on an after school program for the United Somali Community Trust and
has also worked for the Rainbow Chinese Community Centre. Her research interests cover
cross-cultural communication and studies, the international business environment and
international business strategy.

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