Course Number: Course Name: Student Names and ID Numbers: Title:

ADM 3155 Introduction to International Business Lori Borde Sonja Teixeira 3400242 3400187

Confucianism vs. Business

Confucianism is a set of ethical beliefs, sometimes called a religion, taught by Chinese philosopher Confucius in 6th – 5th century B.C.1 To understand the teachings of Confucius, we must look at the time in which he was born. Confucius was born in a period during which China was characterized by social anarchy (Smith, 1965).2 He believed the situation was not hopeless and that China could be saved if its people would seek the good for others, something their ancestors practiced. This led him to become a teacher to sons of nobility and hoped with the right advice he could bring about an ideal world.3 Confucius’ teachings emphasized love for humanity, gave high value to learning, devotion to family, peace and justice. There are many elements that form the foundation of this belief system. These elements include rén (humanity), yi (righteousness), li (ritual), and xiao (filial piety), and can be considered the key principles of Confucianism.4 The first principle, rén, is about humaneness and the care and concern for other human beings. It is meant to be the foundation for all human relationships. In the Analects, Confucius said “...the humane man, desiring to be established himself, seeks to establish others; desiring himself to succeed, he helps others to succeed. To judge others by what one knows of oneself is the method of achieving humanity..." (Confucius & Lau, 1979).5 The second principle is li. Li is the respect for rituals or ritual consciousness. It is a guide to human relationships such as loyalty to superiors and respect for elders and is also gives instructions on the behaviour expected of individuals based on their roles in society.6 This is probably best expressed by Confucius’s reciprocity saying in the Analects, " not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you..." (Confucius & Lau, 1979).7 The third principle, yi, is the moral disposition to do good. 8 Followers of Confucianism have the ability to recognize what is right and good and under certain circumstances what the right thing to do is. The fourth principle, xiao, can be considered the root of the other principles. Humaneness is the larger vision of Confucianism, but it starts with filial piety. Filial piety is basically a respect for one’s parents and ancestors because they are the source of your life; therefore you should do well to bring respect and honour to your family name.9 Confucius extended this belief into five basic human relationships, (1) ruler to ruled; (2) father to son; (3) husband to wife; (4) elder brother to younger brother; and (5) friend to friend, and spoke of the specific duties each person in these relationships has.10 Confucianism has strongly influenced the cultures of China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and Vietnam. It is estimated that worldwide six million people follow Confucianism to the exclusion of all


Instead of following laws. Those is positions of the power to assist the disadvantaged gain face( reputation). The key religious norms suggest utmost respect for customers. Extra care must be taken to gain and maintain face. Guanxi refers to the establishment of a connection between independent individuals to enable a bilateral flow of person or social transactions. A loss of face bring shame to a person and to his or her family members. In these societies ‘who you know is more important than what you know’12. 2 . In becoming a yi-ren. then to her husband. This is a conflict with one of the principles of Confucianism with is ren. ‘if someone pays you an honour of a linear foot. everyone striving to become a yi-ren becomes a xia or a knightrighting the wrongs in the worlds. 14 The woman’s main duty was the serve the man in her life. • Reciprocation: Self-loss vs self-gain. but if we were to consider those who follow the Chinese traditional religion. • Sanction: shame vs guilt Great emphasis is placed on face and face-saving. and then to her sons during widowhood. The male – junzi was the leader and more dominant sex.CONFUCIANISM VS. BUSINESS TEIXEIRA 02/11/10 BY: LORI BORDE AND SONJA other religions. Connections in virtually all social functions.term sustainable relationships. The rituals of ancient China speak of the ‘three obediences’ which were subjecting a woman to her father. This differs from ‘networking’ in the Western world in the following ways: • Motives: role obligation versus self-interest. People have responsibility to the role in their relationship and not merely to their own self interest. business men would follow ethical guidelines. If one is found engaging in such unethical activities in the pursuit of greater profits. Politeness to customers also stems from the Confucian virtue. Guanxi is maintained through continuous. you should reciprocate by honouring the giver with ten linear feet’ • Time orientation: long-term vs short-term perspective.humanity. Everyone is encouraged to become a yi-ren. Confucian philosophy with respect to gender was very traditional. Excess profits are eliminated through avoiding activities such as manipulating supply and demand to bring about higher prices.term interactions. he will lose ‘face’ and bring shame to him and his family members13. Women had no dignity nor human rights. it was immoral to focus all ones energy into profit making as it was come as a sacrifice of building ones virtues. In Chinese. One of the many principles of Confucian thought was ritual (li). Li (rituals). This was a tradition passed from Ancient China and was to be obeyed. this is referred to as ‘guanxi’.11 Confucian societies value harmonious relationships. this number would increase to 350 million people. Confucianism brought ethics into business dealings. including business. often referred to as ‘face works’ Generally. Governance by ethics is given preference over governance by law. long. are of the utmost importance. • Power differentiation: xia vs power In Confucianism. • Nature of power: personal power vs institutional authority. Confucianism speaks of building long. Both parties must derive benefits from the transaction to ensure the continuation of such a relationship. Building Guanxi with ones customers is a great business tactic as it will lead to customer loyalty. one must repay favours and increase the value of the favour given.

Confucius & Lau. 1979. long.term Huston Smith. p.religioustolerance.C. International Business.htm 14.htm 12. The Analects. New York: Penguin Classics. New York: Harper and 2. http://en. In business relations. and in a business context. p. and employees tend to be more motivated. The benefit of the relationship is extended both ways. D. p. Furthermore. http://en. BUSINESS TEIXEIRA 02/11/10 BY: LORI BORDE AND SONJA Followers of the Confucian philosophy believe in Guanxi. The building of long. 243 6.html 4. http://www. 1979.wikipedia.wikipedia. This can be translated to mean relationship. 166 3.CONFUCIANISM VS. http://www. Through this. trust is built and cultivated to form better relationships with the people one works cian_defense_of_gender_equity. An advantage shared by followers of Confucian thought is that overall costs are lowered because the economy is not one that follows the law 13.wikipedia. The employee engages in gift-giving which gives him good ‘face’ or good 5. 2010) p.. New York: Penguin This eliminates the high costs such as implementation of 10..html 11. http://en. (Stuart Wall.183. ‘connections’. The Analects. This also decreases the amount of time to engage in such business dealings. http://www. Both employee and employer focus their work around ethical behaviour rather a rule-based system. D. http://www. third edition. 206 8. Ones fiduciary duty governs his activities.wikipedia. ethics are the guidelines for business. The Religions of Man.lasting relationships is a value that has become quite profitable. Instead. Confucius & Lau. a lot of emphasis is placed on 7. http://www.185 13. http://en.C. References 1. Guanxi is maintained through continuous.calvin.openhistory. employees are not blindly loyal. loyalty to ones employer is based above all 9.patheos. http://en.pdf 3 .