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Aesthetic leadership in Chinese business: a philosophical perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • Haina Zhang
  • Malcolm H. Cone
  • André M. Everett
  • Graham Elkin
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)475-491
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Confucian ethics play a pivotal role in guiding Chinese thinking and behaviour. Aesthetic leadership is emerging as a promising paradigm in leadership studies. This study investigates the practice of aesthetic leadership in Chinese organizations on the basis of Chinese philosophical foundations. We adopt a process perspective to access the aesthetic constellation of meanings present in the Chinese understanding of leadership, linking normative Confucian values to a pragmatic value rational world view, that rests on an ontology of vaguely defined norms that are malleable to different cultural contexts. Value rational pragmatism is explored in order to develop a deeper understanding of normative aesthetic leadership in China and to contrast it to instrumental aesthetic leadership. We empirically demonstrate the contextual specificity of aesthetic leadership in eight Chinese private- and state-owned enterprises (POEs and SOEs) through qualitative case studies. The findings provide a deeper insight into Chinese aesthetic leadership by proposing a dynamic leadership approach, from both ethical and instrumental perspectives, in the Chinese context.