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Rethinking the Case Study in International Business and Management Research

Edited by Rebecca Piekkari and Catherine Welch

This important and original book critically evaluates case study practices and calls for a more pluralistic future for case research in international business (IB) and international management (IM).
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Chapter 24: Doing Case Studies in China: Two Perspectives

Hui Tan and Matti Nojonen


Hui Tan and Matti Nojonen PERSPECTIVE NO. 1: THE CHINESE RESEARCHER NOW LIVING ABROAD Hui Tan INTRODUCTION In the past three decades, how the Chinese conduct their business and management has been a topic attracting much fascination (Stening and Zhang 2007). However, management research on China has largely been shaped by Western institutions. An analysis of research on Chinese organization and management in leading international journals showed that 80 per cent of the authors of the most-cited papers were from the USA, Canada or the UK (Li and Tsui 2002). My perspective on China is different as I have developed into a boundary spanner between the Chinese and Western worlds, having been born in China, but trained in the UK. When conducting management research in China, most researchers choose quantitative rather than qualitative methods (Tsui 2004). This is a reflection of the fact that most research on China consists of ‘testing’ theories instead of theory building. This is understandable as China is a great testing ground to establish the applicability of mainstream Western theories (Roy et al. 2001). However, due to China’s distinctiveness, more research of an exploratory nature is needed to understand the characteristics of management in China, thus theory-building research based on qualitative methodology, including case studies, is expected to be more frequent than theory-testing ones (although theories can also be tested with case studies derived from well-researched contexts) (Meyer 2006; Tsui 2006). This is not only very useful in learning about management and business practices in China,...

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