Bureaucratic Hierarchy vs. Feudal Hierarchy: A Study on the Organizational Culture of China’s SOEs
Tianyuan Yu, Nengquan Wu
Bureaucratic Hierarchy and Feudal Hierarchy are two confusing concepts in organization literature, especially in the study of the organizational culture of enterprises in China. This article clarifies the two concepts in the first place. Ralston et al. (2006) and Tsui et al. (2006) suggested that the dominant organizational culture of China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) was Bureaucratic Hierarchy, consistent with Quinn and Cameron (1983)’s “life cycles – criteria of effectiveness model”. However, according to Boisot and Child (1996)’s “Chinese and Western paths to modernization” model, China’s SOEs are dominated by Feudal Hierarchy culture. This article proposes that the dominant organizational culture of SOEs remains to be Feudal Hierarchy, and then critically examines the literature to support this proposition. Finally, it points to key obstacles in the codification/modernization process of China.
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