Date of Award

Winter 1993

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management & Systems Engineering


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Committee Director

Barry Clemson

Committee Member

Tomoko Hamada

Committee Member

Frederick Steier

Committee Member

Han Bao


The research objective is to study the phenomenon of transferring organizational practices which are conceptualized in one culture to another different culture. The purpose of the study is (1) to understand how cultural values and beliefs are manifested in behavior; (2) to explore how the Western organizational practices are interpreted and assimilated into an organization in an Eastern culture; and (3) to explore strategies for the fit between local cultural orientations and imported organizational practices. A qualitative, interpretive, and reflexive research methodology was developed to conduct this study.

The study was conducted in two phases. The first phase was designed to develop an indigenous perspective of the Chinese culture and behavior and to investigate the cultural interplays in the context of transferring organizational practices from the Western culture to the Chinese culture. This phase was mainly conducted in a large industrial organization in China, complemented by limited data collected from several other organizations. Three major social groups--the government, the management, and the employees--all of which have a major stake in the case organization were investigated by indepth interviews. This was to identify how each of them constructed their own realities, and how their realities were shared and in conflict with each other in the organizational context. Limited observation and document analysis were used to complement the interview findings. Cases where imported organizational practices were integrated with the Chinese culture were examined.

The second phase of the study was conducted in the USA. Cross-cultural informants--those Chinese who had both work experiences in the People's Republic of China (the PRC) and the USA and had a cross-cultural perspective were interviewed. This was designed to facilitate an understanding of the Chinese culture and behavior in the context of other cultures.

During the two phases of the study, a meta-research method was applied to observe the influence of the researcher upon the research process. The researcher's influence on the research data was examined.

A model for cross-cultural transfer of organizational practices was developed. Implications for the study of organization and culture, the construction of meanings in the context of cross-cultural transfer of organizational practices, organizational change in a cultural context, the case organization, and the development of Chinese organizational and management theories were examined. Suggestions for future research were also made.