The Academy of Management and the Rise of China

I am attending the annual meeting of the Academy of Management in Philadelphia. This is a meeting of 9000 -- !! -- academics who study management, most of them at business schools (though the Public and Nonprofit Division, where I often hang out, is now up to 850 members, a growing but still tiny fraction of the organization's 18,000 members, keeping in mind that a member can affiliate with three divisions).

One thing that has made an impression on me here is the amount of Chinese and Chinese-accented English one hears around the convention hotels (there are three of them). At the opening reception, after I finished talking with a colleague, I sat down at a random table with younger looking people and asked if I could eavesdrop. It turned out the table consisted of five doctoral students or young faculty from China who are at American business schools, studying topics such as organizational innovation.

But that was just the beginning. There are really an enormous number of Chinese scholars here -- far more than the number of Japanese, and noticeably more than the number of Indians. This is consistent with my observation over the past few years that there is a growing number of papers appearing in the leading organization and management journals by Chinese academics working at US business schools, in Hong Kong, Singapore, and even a few from mainland China. The Chinese are doing at least a good a job, and with far less history, breaking into the top American journals -- which in turn are considered the best academic journals in the world -- as Europeans are.

This provides an interesting perspective on the rise of China. The Chinese are successfully writing in a language very different from theirs. They are working in foreign research traditions, foreign both in terms of traditional Chinese scholarly culture and in terms of the more-recent heritage of Communism.

All in all, a very impressive performance.

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