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ESSA research subproject
Modern Chinese Production Culture –
Does this global factory provide a model for an international production culture?

Short description
In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Japanese economy lacked the finances for new machinery and, in consequence, decision-makers concentrated on optimizing existing resources and processes. Soon lean production, just in time production and quality circles became export hits, even though Japanese production culture in many ways remained typically Japanese - for instance on issues such as hierarchy and loyalty on the part of employees. Today, the modernity of a factory is measured by the extent to which these characteristics of Japanese production culture are put into practice. After the Second World War, this approach developed into a model for an international production culture.
By the beginning of the 21st century, the Chinese economy had surpassed that of Japan; today, China is a global factory. This subproject analyzes and defines the "Chinese production culture“ and focuses on the question of whether any of its modern characteristics can serve as a model for international production culture. Based on surveys by Hofstede (2009), case studies by Hong/Pöyhönen/Kyläheiku (2006) and on fundamental thinking of Philip Huang, the project takes as its premise that the development of Chinese production culture falls into different historical periods: from the genuinely Chinese production culture of silk, china and tea production over the slumbering industrial revolution, the import of Western manufacturing culture, the building of larger production units in the socialist a tradition, to today’s mixed production culture with Japanese and Western elements. But still today's production culture comes with some genuinely Chinese characteristics: the Confucian understanding of the relation boss - team leader – employee, hierarchy, the concept of face (and critique), the informal network management in the decision finding process, the esteem for the concept of age, nepotism, the play instinct (including imitation), flexibility and speed. This subproject explores which of these elements are exportable in principle and which ones can be profitably implemented within international production cultures.

This is a subproject of the ESSA research project „Re-defining Chinese Identity at the beginning of the 21st century

Phase I: October 2010 - September 2012
(in preparation: Phase II: October 2012 - September 2014)

Funds granted by the
European Science & Scholarship Association.

Publications on the subject