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Cultural Intelligence Essay

5093 words - 21 pages


Chen and Miller










West Meets East:
Toward an Ambicultural Approach to Management
By Ming-Jer Chen and Danny Miller

Executive Overview
In the aftermath of the recent economic crisis, the world is looking for fresh ideas and new perspectives. Business reality has transformed from “West leads East” to “West meets East.” A thriving Chinese business culture represents not only a source of economic partnership but a potential fount of managerial wisdom that can help renew Western economies. Unfortunately, the cultural distance between East and West makes Chinese examples too different, and at times inappropriate, for Western firms to ...view middle of the document...

Banks around the globe have taken roughly

The authors would like to thank Y. P. Chan, Isabelle Le Breton-Miller, John Michel, Jan Rivkin, Charles Tucker, and Tieying Yu for their valuable comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Financial support from the Batten Institute and the Darden Foundation, University of Virginia, is acknowledged.

$4 trillion in write-downs (Elliott, 2009). In total, the global financial setback amounts to more than the 2008 gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States, the European Union, and Japan combined. In response to the calamity, business enterprises, governments, and public institutions around the world have been forced to undertake major restructuring and transformation efforts. In the West, the blame for the decline in many corporations and in financial and real estate markets has been assigned largely to greed, shorttermism, and excessive risk taking, all of which seem to have increased significantly over the past several decades (Miller & Le Breton-Miller, 2005). Influential investors such as hedge funds proliferated as sources of mobile and highly impatient capital clamoring for rapid and steadily grow-

*Ming-Jer Chen ( is Leslie E. Grayson Professor of Business Administration at the Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia. Danny Miller ( is Research Professor at HEC Montreal and the University of Alberta. Copyright by the Academy of Management; all rights reserved. Contents may not be copied, e-mailed, posted to a listserv, or otherwise transmitted without the copyright holder’s express written permission. Users may print, download, or e-mail articles for individual use only.


Academy of Management Perspectives


ing returns. Moreover, the proportion of incentive to total pay going to CEOs has skyrocketed over the last 20 years, as has the CEO-to-line-employee compensation ratio, which has risen from 40 times to over 500 times (Murphy & Zabojnik, 2004; Towers-Perrin, 2009). Meanwhile, top executive tenures fell from eight years to about four. Clearly, there has been enormous pressure on managers to get results quickly—and leave the ensuing problems to a successor. As a consequence, knowledge capital in many firms has become depleted in the blind pursuit of bottom-line economies and immediate returns. In addition, widespread downsizing—first as a tactic for enhanced profits, later as a necessity for saving foundering enterprises— incurred considerable human costs. A maturing Western market has put further pressure on the situation, and there is greater need to embrace emerging markets both as a source of goods to meet growing demand and as a market for Western products. Clearly, there is growing recognition of the need for a better approach, one that reaches out further temporally, geographically, and ideologically. And so attention has begun to shift toward the East. Indeed, during this time of humbling...

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