Seeing and studying China: Leveraging phenomenon-based research in China for theory advancement

Chao C. Chen, Ray Friedman, Daniel J. McAllister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


China plays a central role in the world economy, and it is important for management scholars to focus attention on the issues and challenges it faces. For this purpose, we argue, a phenomenon-based approach is required. We review the central tenets of phenomenon-based research (PBR), arguing that a clear focus on important phenomenon (rather than just testing a prior theories) enhances our understanding of the world, encourages different research methods, and – in the end – actually produces better theory as well. PBR on China helps us see, and study, the critical phenomena of generational value shifts, pollution, aging of the population, corruption, and mistrust of strangers. It also forces us to grapple with Chinese paradoxes, like the odd combination of hard work despite high belief in fate, and the ways in which our mainstream theories can and should be updated to address key Chinese phenomenon, like Guanxi. This special issue documents key phenomena in China that management scholars need to know about, and provides stimulus for advancing theory that not only is germane to China, but also informs and reshapes general management theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
StatePublished - Nov 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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