Confucian Work Dynamism Essay

Cheap Custom Writing Service

Confucius was a Chinese philosopher who lived around 500 b.c. and wrote extensively about the pragmatic rules of living. Geert Hofstede and Michael Bond’s research on global cultures demonstrated that individuals and firms in China and other Asian countries focused on a dynamic future-oriented mentality and reflected a deep sense of harmony and stable relationships, as recommended in Confucius’s writings, and labeled this dimension of culture “Confucian work dynamism.”

The interest in Confucian work dynamism and future orientation emanated from a rise in competitive dominance in the latter part of the 20th century of some East Asian countries such as Japan and the “four dragons” (or “tigers”)—Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan—as well as south Asian countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. Immigrant Chinese families controlled most of the business and economic operations in many of these countries, and researchers attributed their success primarily to their reliance on the Confucian work ethic, which focused on the quality of relationships a person maintained, as well as their performance of their social and civic duties.

The Confucian work dynamism scale was based on an instrument called the Chinese Value Survey (CVS), which was administered in 23 countries and based on the values as seen by native Chinese social scientists. In addition to the four cultural dimensions identified by Geert Hofstede, Michael Bond discovered a new dimension and labeled it “Confucian work dynamism,” to emphasize the importance of practical ethics based on the following principles: (1) the permanence of society is contingent on imbalanced relationships expressing mutual and complementary obligations between father and son, older and younger brother, ruler and subject; (2) “virtuous behavior” toward others entails not treating others as one would not like to be treated by them; (3) the family is the foundation and archetype of all social organizations; individuality should be subdued if it diminishes harmony, and it is very important to maintain everybody’s face by preserving others’ dignity; (4) virtues in life involve acquiring skills and education, working hard, being thrifty, having a sense of shame, and being patient and persevering; and (5) individuals should have a sense of commitment and organizational identity and loyalty.

The Confucian Work Dynamism Index has been shown to be positively correlated with the economic growth of countries as well as to entrepreneurship orientation. Scholars also hypothesized that a high savings rate in east and southeast Asian countries was a consequence of the Confucian ethic that promoted long-term orientation. Predictably, these societies scored high on the Confucian Dynamism Index, while Western societies scored lower. Interestingly, some non-Confucian countries like India and Brazil have also scored high on this dimension.

In other empirical studies, the Confucian Dynamism Index has been shown to be negatively correlated to “this year’s profits,” but positively correlated to “profits 10 years from now.” It has also been shown to be strongly positively related to a measure of “marginal propensity to save.”

Some have argued that Confucian dynamism is also associated with a system of authoritarian pluralism distinguishable from the liberal democracies of the Western world. For example, drug trafficking is heavily penalized in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. Divorce rates are significantly lower than those of Western societies as family is relied upon as a form of social insurance. Attacks on other beliefs are relentlessly pursued, since most societies are pluralistic as far as religions are concerned. Finally, the press is free, yet not a “fourth estate”—while the freedom of the press is valued as a stipulation for good governance, it has no absolute right and is expected to blend with the national consensus.

Hofstede and others in their later empirical studies observed that the Confucian Dynamism Index taps into only certain aspects of Confucian ethics and excludes others such as filial piety and hence reinterpreted the meaning of this construct as “long-term orientation.” This dimension depicts the fostering of virtues oriented toward future rewards, particularly perseverance and thrift. On the other hand, the polar opposite term, short-term orientation, represents cultivation of the virtues related to past and present, in particular, respect for tradition, preservation of face, and fulfilling social obligations.

Certain facets of Confucian societies and their related explanations have been questioned. For example, a high rate of savings, which is considered a distinguishing feature of these societies, may be caused by comparatively high costs of consumption coupled with the high taxes on consumption and the poor availability of social security for the elderly, rather than just long-term orientation.

Second, even though “persistence” and “thrift” are positively loaded on the Confucian Dynamism Index, the index also includes other items that have inconsequential association with long-term orientation, such as “ordering relationships by status and observing this order” and “having a sense of shame.” Moreover, some negatively related items, such as “respect for tradition” and “personal steadiness and stability” are not necessarily inversely related to long-term orientation. To the contrary, positive relationships have been shown between taking a long-term perspective and appreciation of how history and tradition define opportunities and capabilities for the future.

Finally, William Ouchi’s work identified reasons other than the Confucian work ethic as shaping a country’s (particularly Japan’s) long-term orientation. Because Japan has limited arable land, the planting and harvesting of crops can only be accomplished with the cooperation of 20 or more people. Hence, it is more out of necessity rather than cultural considerations that people in this society have developed the skills to work together in harmony and where individual concerns are outweighed by concerns for group welfare.


  1. Neal Ashkanasy, Vipin Gupta, Melinda S. Mayfield, and Edwin Trevor Roberts, “Future Orientation,” in Culture, Leadership and Organizations: The Globe Study of 62 Societies, R. J. House et al., eds. (Sage, 2004);
  2. Kuochung Chang and Cherng G. Ding, “An Exploratory Study of the Effects of Chinese Cultural Characteristics on the PRC Governmental Buying Behavior,” Journal of International Marketing and Marketing Research (v.21, 1996);
  3. Richard H. Franke, Geert Hofstede, and Michael H. Bond, “Cultural Roots of Economic Performance: A Research Note,” Strategic Management Journal (v.12, 1991);
  4. Geert Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations (Sage, 2001);
  5. Geert Hofstede and Michael H. Bond, “The Confucius Connection: From Cultural Roots to Economic Growth,” Organizational Dynamics (v.16/4, 1988);
  6. S. Hong, “Dynamics of Asian Workplaces—An Introductory Essay,” Work and Occupations (v.24/1, 1997);
  7. Bih-Shiaw Jaw, Ya-Hui Ling, Christina Yu-Ping Wang, and Wen-Ching Chang, “The Impact of Culture on Chinese Employees’ Work Values,” Personnel Review (v.36/5–6, 2007);
  8. David A. Ralston et al., “Eastern Values: A Comparison of Managers in the United States, Hong Kong, and the People’s Republic of China,” Journal of Applied Psychology (v.77/5, 1992);
  9. Christopher J. Robertson and James J. Hoffman, “How Different Are We? An Investigation of Confucian Values in the United States,” Journal of Managerial Issues (v.12, 2000).

This example Confucian Work Dynamism Essay is published for educational and informational purposes only. If you need a custom essay or research paper on this topic please use our writing services. offers reliable custom essay writing services that can help you to receive high grades and impress your professors with the quality of each essay or research paper you hand in.

See also:


Always on-time


100% Confidentiality

Special offer!