Abstract

The paper concentrates on the Chinese philosophical strand of Daoism and analyses in how far this philosophy can contribute to new directions in management theory. Daoism is an ancient Chinese philosophy, which can only be traced back roughly to about 200 or 100 BC when during Han dynasty the writers Laozi and Zhuangzi were identified as “Daoists”. This paper offers a broader discussion regarding the potential ways of application of Daoist thought today over five parts. First, it illuminates the most important values taught under the name of Daoism. Thereby, it focuses on the Daoist thought and leaves out the actual religious practice together with its mystical elements. Second, these values are then put into the management context to analyse in how far Daoism can broaden our contemporary understanding of management in general and different management styles in particular. Third, Daoism in a management context is then contrasted with the comparably rigid Confucian doctrine also applied in a business context. Fourth, insights into the real business practice in China regarding Chinese philosophies like Daoism and Confucianism in fields like management, strategy or corporate ethics are provided. Fifth, an outlook is presented where Daoism is discussed in the context of contemporary debates on sustainability and CSR.


Full Paper available at Philosophy of Management Journal (Springer)