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Do Asian Management Paradigms Exist? A Look at four theoteretical frames
Review of Contemporary Philosophy, Vol. 11, 2012, pp. 44-78

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  1. 1. Review of Contemporary Philosophy Volume 11, 2012, pp. 44-78, ISSN 1841-5261 DO ASIAN MANAGEMENT PARADIGMS EXIST? A LOOK AT FOUR THEORETICAL FRAMES MURRAY HUNTER University Malaysia PerlisABSTRACT. Interest in Asian business and management practices developedduring the Japanese business emergence in the 1980s. The rise of the Asian tigers inthe early 1990s and the emergence of China and India in global business affairsduring the last decade have kept up the momentum of interest. This papercontemplates the question as to whether specific Asian paradigms of business andmanagement actually exist. The author takes a look at Confucianism, Sun Tzu’smilitary strategies, Buddhism, and Islam as possible paradigms. However upon asuperficial look at these paradigms, there appears more influence on Westernmanagement thought than Asian management thinking, excepting Confucianism.Keywords: Asian Management, Management theory, Sun Tzu, Confucius,Buddhism, Islam1. IntroductionAsian business and management has been of great interest to many eversince the rise of Japan Inc. during the 1980s. The ‘sudden’1 Japanesesuccess in the US and European markets was explained by numerousauthors as well thought out marketing strategies,2 a strategic mindset,3Superior productivity,4 organizational culture,5 specific cultural practicesand a shared commitment,6 a special nexus between government, business,and the banking system,7 and innovation.8 The rise of the Asian tigers inEast and Southeast Asia added to the mystic of Asian management. Thislead to a further round of authors espousing reasons for success includingwork ethics, culture, low cost base, rising levels of innovation, governmentsponsored capitalism, the role of the overseas Chinese,9 quanxi,10 growingdomestic markets, and well thought out strategies.11 Interest in Asianbusiness and management declined with the Japanese bubble bursting and 44
  2. 2. the Asian financial crisis of 1997. This occurred at a time when there was asmall re-emergence of US industry where the Asian myth was broken and itwas back to business as usual.12 US industry became equipped with new paradigms that would solve alltheir competitive problems packed up in new management philosophies thatwould bring a new arrogance in executive management, who thought theywere envisioned for the future. Tools and slogans like the ‘Value Chain’,‘Strategic alliances’, ‘Strategic innovation’, ‘Lean Manufacturing’,‘Business Process Re-engineering’, ‘Balanced Score Card’,‘Benchmarking’, ‘TQM’, ‘branded derivatives’, ‘Quality ManagementSystems’, ‘Zero defects’, ‘Performance Measurement’, ’Excellence Model’,and ‘Six Sigma’ instilled new found confidence. Many of these ideasbecame a ‘quick fix’, with a rapidly growing consulting industry supportingthe concepts. However most of these ideas were misinterpreted, as forexample, managers saw lean production as a means to cut back on staff anddeclare themselves a lean organization. However the first decade of this Millennium saw China and India beginto emerge as serious global contenders. Interest again returned to Asia witha flood of books published about the success of the new rising giants.Literary focus today is upon the nouveau entrepreneurs of the region, whothey are, how they organize themselves and became successful.13 Mostliterature about Asian management has been positivist and instrumentalistrather than reflective. This can be seen with title phrases like ‘how’, ‘newcompetition’, ‘success’, and ‘challenge’, etc. Culture and philosophy hasbeen superficially mentioned and there are indeed a multitude of booksabout ‘Confucius’,14 ‘Sun Tzu’,15 ‘Buddhist management’,16 and ‘Islamicbusiness’.17 After so much reading material about Asian management there are stillquestions to be answered. Is there a distinctively Asian type of managementbased upon traditional philosophy? Is the focus on these ancientphilosophies and religion really relevant to Asian today? This paper hasselected four philosophies, first briefly explaining them, and then givingconsideration to the relevance within contemporary Asian society. Thepaper will conclude postulating what types of paradigms and frames mayenhance our understanding of Asian business in the future and whatsimilarities they may have to current occidental paradigms.2. The Confucian ParadigmConfucius was born with the name K’ung Ch’iu in the Lũ Kingdom ofChina in 551 BC, and was in later life called K’ung Fu-Tzu (Master Kung)by his followers. He is probably the most famous Chinese moralist, 45
  3. 3. intellectual, philosopher and educationalist known outside China and histeachings have had great influence on China’s social and political thoughtover the last 2500 years, as well as spreading to East and South-East Asia.18Confucius developed a system that saw man as a social being,interconnected to society through a system of moral and social ethics,concerned with perfecting human character to create a virtuous social order.While the traditions of Confucianism have historical and regionalvariations, there are certain central ideas and values which are common.These values have constituted the key elements of the traditions of societieswhich have endured history and political upheavals. The basic Confucianconcepts embrace a dynamic cosmological worldview for promotingharmony amidst change, where individuals exist in concentric circles ofrelationships with ethical responsibilities that place importance on thefamily, within a hierarchical social system, where loyalty to elders isparamount and a generational concept of gratitude and respect for earlierancestors exists. Education is the mechanism where individuals are culturedand developed as a means to enrich society and create a social and politicalorder. History is valued as continuality and a basis for moral reflection andlearning. The worldview purported by Confucius is characterized by four keyelements:1. An anthrop cosmic perspective of the great triad of heaven (a guidingforce), earth and humans,2. An organic holism where the universe is seen as unified, interconnectedand interpenetrating, where everything interacts and affects everything else,3. A dynamic vitalism of underlying units of reality which is constituted ofthe material energy force of the universe (chi), the natural force of theuniverse, which creates reciprocity between man and nature and is thesubstance of life responsible for continuing process of change in theuniverse, and4. Ethics embracing man and nature.Within this context, Confucian thought sees the person in relation to othersand not as an isolated individual. Thus, in Confucian society, the commongood is more important than individual good. In this view, self interest andaltruism for a common cause is not always mutually exclusive. Confucius was more concerned about the process of humandevelopment, rather than theological concepts and ends.19 He believed theprinciples of relationships could be extended from that of running a familyto the governing of a kingdom or nation: “Those who want to be a leader orruler have to have their own house in order.”20 Through education andrituals which signified respect, man would develop five inner virtues;integrity, righteousness, loyalty, reciprocity and human-heartedness, which 46
  4. 4. once developed would radiate externally from the individual, so that societycould be governed by man, rather than rules of law. To this end, Confuciusdefines five primary relationships that will achieve this; ruler and subject,parent and child, elder and younger brother, husband and wife, and friendand friend. As a child develops and learns, he or she will first learn to loveand respect the parents, then brothers and sisters, then relatives, and later allof humanity. This piety is called Hsiao, which is considered the root of allhumanity. This philosophy was able to change the family in agrarian China from aunit of production to a collective moral dimension, with a social code foreach rank of the family hierarchy, very different from the Western conceptof individualism.21 This led to the concept of guanxi, much written about inWestern literature, “a focus on relationships with a shared history, respectfor the past, a value that many – not all – Chinese cherish.”22 Two other concepts in Confucianism are Tao, the way of life and Te,potency and self-sacrificial generosity with humility, with the moral powerof attraction and transformation, associated with these qualities. Thehumanistic attribute required to achieve the above is through Ren, whichmeans love, kindness and goodness, qualities of the perfect individual. Thisis the essence of what makes humans different from other members of theanimal kingdom. Failure to develop Ren would lead an individual to quicklydevelop foregone conclusions, dogmatism, obstinacy and egotism, whichwould block wisdom and prevent people from making new insights anddiscoveries, as one’s mind must remain open to become wiser. Li is theexpression of Ren in a social context through norms, rites and ritualsgoverning ceremonies according to one’s social position. Through Li, theindividual expresses his respect and reverence for others.23 Another important aspect of Confucian thought mentioned above is Yi orrighteousness. This is where self interest is subservient to organizationalinterest. Yi is practiced through cultivating ritual and etiquette andeventually becomes second nature. Zhi or wisdom is the ability to apply theabove virtues into life situations which implies an understanding of theConfucian worldview above. Zhi is therefore much more than knowledge.Finally one must possess Xin or trustworthiness to safeguard the mission ofthe organization. Romar suggested that Confucian ethics are very similar tothe ideas developed by Peter Drucker.24 Confucius was not influential in government during his time, servingonly in minor positions, and wondering around China giving advice to thosefew that listened. However, he attracted a number of followers, who laterheld office in government, advised by Confucius on matters of ethics andpiety. However he became quickly disillusioned as they didn’t take hiscounsel. Confucius spent most of his last years working on his classics. 47
  5. 5. After his death, Confucianism had to contend with other philosophies ofTaoism and Buddhism during the 3rd to 7th Centuries, creating a blend ofphilosophies creating Neo-Confucianism, dominating philosophical thoughtin China during the Tsang Dynasty (618-906 AD), the Sung Dynasty (960–1279 AD) and later during the Ming Dynasty (1472–1529 AD). Confucianinstitutions in China slowly disintegrated after the overthrow of the LastEmperor in 1911, although it survived in practice in Taiwan, Hong Kong,Macao and parts of South-East Asia after that time. Confucianism has been examined and debated about its significance toAsian Economic development by Western scholars, over the last fewdecades. Confucianism is often misunderstood, as to its real interpretations.Most have believed that Confucianism is completely worldly andhumanistic, lacking any divinity. However, Confucius last book The Annalsof Spring and Autumn (chũnqĭu) is full of references to the divinity ofheaven and its influence upon man and reason for existence. Some scholarshave criticized Confucian works as being nothing more than a reaffirmationof earlier thoughts, with no originality,25 although Confucius himself statedthe need to look back to learn history as examples of models and acts ofpiety. Many misunderstand the concept of holism, not necessarily meaningholism of society, but holism of the worldview from a family perspective.26 During the 1980’s and 1990’s many academics became interested in theconnections between Confucianism and the spectacular rise of the AsianTigers. Some argued that Confucius was opposed to modernization as itdidn’t advocate individualism, common to the Western characteristics ofentrepreneurship, was too dependent on guidance, emphasized an all rounddevelopment of personality to harmonize with the environment, whichdiscouraged aggressiveness and encouraged traditionalism, rather thanmodernization.27 However, Tu suggested that individualism is a Westernmode of capitalism and East Asian had developed another model based onrelationships to develop change through consensus and networks, with asense of personal discipline.28 Confucianism was criticized for lack of profitmotive, as his philosophies discouraged self-motivation and that merchantswere not included in Confucius set of key relationships. However, throughresponsibility and obligation to family, other motives exist, such as theirwell-being,29 and treatment of those inside and outside an individual’suniverse of relationships will be different, i.e., outsiders treated with respectbut caution, more adversarial, rather than brotherly relationship.Confucianism is also criticized for its lack of innovation, whereas the realityof Chinese business has been to seek ways to control an existing market,rather than create new value through innovation.30 The tremendous economic growth in Asia after the Second World Warwas labeled as “Confucian capitalism.”31 Hofstede postulated that culture isa prime determinant of performance and Confucianism dictates hierarchical 48
  6. 6. organizational structure, preserving values, and thrift, which were all seenas organizational drivers of economic growth.32 One of the side effects ofConfucianism is nepotism and thus the creation of lack of transparency,corruption, and inefficiency.33 Some scholars labeled this as one of theprime reasons of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.34,35 Perhaps one area where Confucian concepts can be superficially seen isin the Chinese family business around Southeast Asia. Chinese familybusinesses are usually run by a patriarchal leader who installs direction andmorals through the exercise of Confucian virtues.36 However, this oftendegenerates into crude authoritarianism.37 The hierarchy usually follows akinship structure where one’s position depends upon relationship with theleader, rather than on any professional merit. Subordinates know their rolesand operate within a certain degree of autonomy, although mostorganizational knowledge is monopolized by the leader and shared at hisdiscretion.38 Personal relationships are thus very much part of the decisionmaking process and organizational performance is very subjective.Performance of these enterprises is often sub-optimal because of thenepotistic nature of organizations. In addition, one of the major objectives isto maintain harmony and avoid conflict within the organization as a meansto maintain stability. Human relationships are built upon trust based on the principles ofpersonalization and quanxi.39 This was necessary in developing SoutheastAsia when legal codes and contractual enforcement were still in theirinfancy. The effect of these arrangements was to slow down the state ofprogress and limit the incorporation of newcomers to an industry. This alsorestricted the input of new ideas and technology into firms within theregion. The overview of a traditional Chinese family enterprise is depictedin figure 1. 49
  7. 7. Patriarchal Leader Structure Process External Strategy Personalization Paternalism Quanxi Leader sets objectives Networks Kinship Monopoly on Knowledge Knowledge Harmony Charismatic Leadership Implementation Nepotism Centralized decision making Trust Level of Relationships FlexibilityFigure 1 The Traditional Chinese family BusinessIn theory the centralization of decision making increases the ability to makequick decisions and adapt to a changing environment. However leadershipin these organizations seem to take on a conservative disposition and beaverse to change. Firm flexibility and technology sophistication almostwholly depends upon the competencies of the patriarchal leader. To the contrary, it can also be argued that Confucianism actually haslittle influence on the way Chinese business is operated, at least in South-East Asian countries like Malaysia. Although Chinese business sustains andnurtures family members and maintains a paternalistic and hierarchicalnature of authority within the enterprise,40 there is little evidence thatMalaysian Chinese businesses rely on guanxi networks for growth anddevelopment,41 have little interest in long term sustainability and littleadherence to the Chinese philosophies associated with Confucianism.42 It isalso unlikely that many contemporary Chinese have a thoroughunderstanding of the Confucius philosophy or the will or want to fulfill thepiety and wisdom defined by Confucius in everyday life. One of Confuciusfollowers Mèngzî warned, Ren is a concept not easily achieved by man.However modern life and business may tend to be judged by old values,creating a complexity of behavior that is often hard to understand,43especially by the older generation that is Chinese educated. With the newgeneration returning to their family businesses after overseas study there is 50
  8. 8. great pressure for patriarchal leaders to step aside and/or allow theintroduction of ‘more professional’ management. Perhaps the greatestinfluence of Confucianism is in the governance of the State of Singapore,rather than in business.44 Finally, John Naisbitt in his prophecy book Megatrends Asia predictedthat the unique strengths of Chinese business networks, able to make speedydecisions and able to obtain resources through connecting people wouldmake the Chinese business model the ideal flexible form of socialorganization for the globally connected world of the future.45 However thiswould assume that harmony doesn’t exhibit restriction on individuals fromcriticism of strategy, even though it may be constructive, as the practice ofauthority in Chinese companies means obedience rather than carefulquestioning of the status quo.463. The War (Sun Tzu) ParadigmSun Tzu’s The Art of War was written 2,500 years ago and was mostprobably the first comprehensive book of military strategy ever written.47Sun Tzu saw strategy as a tool in warfare, primarily out of sight of theenemy, aimed at gaining advantage and defeating an adversary by fightingas few battles as possible.48 Sun Tzu postulated achieving victory by out-thinking and out-fighting the enemy with the best tools at one’s disposal.The thirteen chapters of the book lay out an ideology of strategy as follows:Chapter One: The proper planning of strategy.Chapter Two: How to avoid protracted campaigns.Chapter Three: How to defeat the enemy without going to battle.Chapter Four: Find the enemies weaknesses.Chapter Five: How to exploit opportunities.Chapter Six: How events and strategy are unpredictable.Chapter Seven: Relief of the enemy’s vigilance.Chapter Eight: The adaptation of strategy.Chapter Nine: Exploring the enemy’s position.Chapter Ten: The diligence of a commander.Chapter Eleven: The obedience and submission of subordinates.Chapter Twelve: Diligence and caution when undertaking tasks.Chapter Thirteen: The use of intelligence.Within the above chapters are six basic applications of the principlesoutlined in each chapter of the book. These include:Winning whole or succeeding with all one’s resources and objectives intact;Leading to advantage or how to prepare and position soldiers for victory;Deception or keeping one’s intentions secret from opponents and enemies; 51
  9. 9. Energy or applying force effectively and efficiently;Capabilities or finding the best path to achieve an objective; andInitiative or how to take advantage and capitalize upon an emergingopportunity in a conflict.Perhaps the most important aspect of Sun Tzu’s doctrines is wisdom. Inancient Chinese the character for wisdom was similar to the character forknowledge, thus wisdom and knowledge are interwoven. Sun Tzu believedthat wisdom was an innate quality of a general and is made up of fourqualities, the ability to plan, perceptibility, predictability, and adaptability.Therefore in planning a good general must know what the fight is for andhow to place his troops and weapons in the right place at the right time.Potential problems must be foreseen, so that solutions are available whenand if they are encountered. In addition a general must be free of emotion sothat decisions can be made without undue influence and consistently.Finally the general must be able to adapt to unexpected changingcircumstances that may arise in the course of the campaign. In chapter five of The Art of War, military tactics are equated with theflow of water. “As flowing water runs away from high places and speedsdownward, an army avoids strengths and seeks weaknesses. As watershapes its course according to the ground, an army works out its victory inrelation to the enemy it faces. Therefore, as water retains no constant shape,there are no fixed conclusions in warfare. He can modify his tacticsaccording to the enemy’s situation and thereby succeed in winning, may hebe called divine.”49 Military strategy has influenced business strategy as it has a similarobjective of achieving a desired result and winning. Some of the importantprincipals of Sun Tzu’s strategies that can be seen as relevant to businessare summarized below:• Business is extremely important to the owner so thorough planning isnecessary;• Avoid if possible direct competition against competitors (i.e., find amarket where there is no competition);• Emulate as much as possible the strengths of your competitors and buildyour strengths where your competitors are weak;• Ensure you have a planned exit strategy if necessary;• Know your competitors well, you will have a better chance of success;• Good leadership is a powerful motivator of followers (wisdom, sincerity,benevolence, courage, strictness);• Show by example;• Develop shared values in your organization to gain commitment;• Develop competitive advantage and make full use of it in the marketplace;• A powerful and efficient leader is indispensable to the success of the firm; 52
  10. 10. • Have a good technical background;• To be competitive, a company must be able to capitalize on variouschanges in the economy, business and social environments and developstrategies accordingly;• Must realistically understand what is in and outside of your control;• Position yourself close to the resources you need and markets;• Strength is a relative concept, no absolute superior or inferior strength, it ishow you arrange your resources that can bring success;• Hide your strengths and weaknesses from your competitors so you havethe element of surprise in the marketplace;• Seek out as much information about your competitors, markets andcustomers as possible;• Delegate subordinates with enough authority to get the job done;• Training is an important method of achieving efficiency;• A combination of benevolence and strictness is the key to guaranteeingloyalty of your staff; and,• Be transparent in your reward systems so employees know what they willreceive.An element that is beginning to be regarded as an important trait inentrepreneurship is courage.50 Sun Tzu mentioned courage in chapter eightdescribing a general as a person who must be brave and courageous inbattle, and his troops if cowardly will face capture by the enemy. In additiona general must be prepared to be bold and take calculated risks whennecessary in order to seize opportunities without hesitation. Courage shouldalso be attached to resourcefulness and decisiveness. Courage runs in twodirections. If a situation becomes hopeless, a general must recognize thisand immediately make a retreat. The courage to move forward blindly, i.e.,making decisions based upon courage alone, is not genuine courage but adelusion, something equated to what we recognize as an overconfidencebias.51 Many authors writing about Asian business attribute Chinese businesssuccess to the following of the doctrines of Sun Tzu.52 This may have somepositive bearing in the business strategies of some businesses, which arequoted as examples in books,53 and Sun Tzu’s philosophies have certainlyinfluenced writers.54 But as other authors have commented in the AsianSME context, most businesses start out finding the correct businessstrategies by nothing more than trial and error until they find the winningset of strategies for their businesses.55 Very few business entrepreneurs inSoutheast Asia until recently have been educated past secondary school andalthough Sun Tzu is known to Western business scholars, it is highlydoubtful whether many are familiar with his works on strategy. Howeverthere is some evidence that the educated Chinese public service over the 53
  11. 11. centuries did use these texts in forming the strategies of Chinese state.56 Itappears that the doctrines of Sun Tzu were studied by Western militaryscholars57 and the early business schools took some interest in The Art ofWar in the 1950s and 60s when the concepts of business and corporatestrategy was being pioneered. Strategy as a war paradigm became verypopular in the United States with a number of ‘bestsellers’ like Barrie James‘Business War Games’, and Al Ries and Jack Trout’s ‘MarketingWarfare’58 in the 1980s and has become part of contemporary marketingterminology.59 Yet it is claimed that Sun Tzu’s doctrine influenced Admiral Yamamotoin planning the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, Mao Tse-Tung’sphilosophies, the Vietnamese General Vö Nguyên Giáp’s strategies that ledto victories over the French and American forces in Vietnam, CheGueverra’s revolutionary and guerrilla tactics in South America, and theGulf war campaigns and resulting insurgencies.60 In addition Sun Tzu hasbecome part of popular culture influencing films like the Star Wars Trilogy,Wall Street, The Sopranos (HBO), The Art of War, and Die Another Day.The influence of Sun Tzu on Asian business has probably been throughthese western influences, rather than direct knowledge and education in theregion itself.4. The Buddhist ParadigmBuddhist Dharma originated on the Indian Sub-continent with the birth ofSiddhartha Gautama back in the 6th century BCE. Buddhism spread throughSouth Asia, South East Asia, Central Asia, and East Asia, taking on manyforms and variations, which include the Theravãda, Mahãyãna, andVajrayãna traditions. Today Buddhism directly influences about 10% of theworld’s population, although some practice a mix of Buddhism, andTaoism, that may even take on some Hindu influences. Within the Abhidhamma Pitaka, the last of three parts to the PaliCannon (the scriptures of Theravãda Buddhism) are a number of textsconcerning psychology, philosophy and metaphysics. The AbhidhammaPitaka describes the structure of the human mind and perception withamazing accuracy to the accepted views of modern neuro-science. The mindis described as a continual conscious process or experience in the metaphorof a ‘mindstream’ (something similar to phenomenological psychology).61 Within Buddhist philosophy, consciousness and metaphysics arecombined in the concept of Pratîtyasamutpada or dependent origination.This is where reality is seen as an interdependent timeless universe ofinterrelated co-arising, co-dependence, and cause and effect. A human’sexistence is interwoven with the existence of everything else and the 54
  12. 12. existence of everything else is interwoven with the human’s existence in amutually interdependent way. Because this concept is past, present andfuture, everything in the universe is only transient and has no real individualexistence. A person’s perception continually ebbs and flows on a daily basis withchanges in intelligence, knowledge and understanding, based on the type ofemotions one feels and their individual strength, pull and intensity. Thisprocess makes a person happy, sad, excited, hesitant or anxious aboutpeople, things and events around them. One may feel angry, greedy, jealous,trusting, lustful, and confused all in one day. More often than not, we arenot aware of the influence of our feelings upon how we perceive things andbehave, as this process is partly sub-conscious.62 Feeling is what drives aperson, whether it is to seek shelter and food, clothing and medical care,love and sex, career and comfort, etc. This is a very important conceptbecause, it is only our ability to free ourselves from attachment and delusionabout our sense of self and values unconsciously placed on others, will webe able to see the world as it really is, rather than what we wish it to be. Infact our view of self and existence is created through our clinging andcraving which blinds us to the reality of dependent origination.63 The wheelof Samsara, or suffering through life is the heart of the First Noble Truth ofBuddhism, that there is suffering. Although the wheel of Samsara mayappear esoteric, the messages are straight forward without the divinity ofmystic gods. This is the concept of Samsara was adopted into Buddhismwith the metaphors of gods, afterlife, and rebirth, widely accepted duringthose times. Much of this mysticism has been added to Buddhism throughthe influence of various cultures and institutionalization over time.64 Buddhism is about transcending delusions and the patterns andpathways we are locked into, so human perception is clear and unbiased.This makes Buddhism an ethical philosophy of life, rather than a religion instrict terms.65 According to Buddhist Dharma (theology), desire is a majorpart of our motivation and psych. Buddhism sees mankind living in adeluded reality caused by infatuation, attachment66 and clinging to desirefor objects and permanence in the world as the source of all suffering. Thepathway to wisdom67 is found through understanding ‘The Four NobleTruths’ which are:1. Our delusions of self cause our suffering;2. Suffering is a fact of life resulting from our attachment to what we desire;3. If we extinguish our attachment, we reduce our suffering; and4. By following the ‘Eightfold Path’ and developing wisdom, we canalleviate our suffering.The first Noble Truth is about our habitual relationship and attachment toanguish and craving, and how we relate to the events within our life. Do we 55
  13. 13. embrace our emotions and mistake them for reality? Do we realize theconsequences of our actions? The third Noble truth is the ability to let go ofour attachment allows us to see other realities, not based on the bias of theego-centric ‘I’ or ‘me”. If we can achieve this freedom from our emotions,we can make decisions without just guessing about the potentialconsequences of our actions – a true wisdom. ‘The Four Noble Truths’ can be seen as challenges to act rather thanbeliefs. Action as the fourth Nobel Truth espouses the practice of the‘Eightfold Path’, which is a practical set of methods to let go of ourattachment. The ‘Eightfold Path’ consists of right understanding, rightintention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort,mindfulness and right concentration. Practice of the Eightfold Path mayassist in raising consciousness to a completely non-dualistic view of subjectand object. There is actually nothing spiritual or religious about the ‘TheFour Noble Truths’ or ‘Eightfold Path’. The ‘Eightfold Path’ is abouteverything we do, a mode for being in this world. Such practice underpinsthe visions and ideas we develop. A depiction of the “Eightfold Path’ isshown in figure 3. Wisdom Right Right View Concentration Right Mental Intention Development Right Right Mindfulness Speech Right Right Action Effort Right Livelihood Ethical ConductFigure 2 A Depiction of the “Eightfold Path’A brief description of each stage of the ‘Eightfold Path’ is below:Right view is both the beginning and end of the path. Right view is aboutunderstanding the ‘Four Noble Truths’ and seeing true realities without the 56
  14. 14. delusion of craving and attachment. With the Right view the see theimperfectness of our nature and that around us. We understand the Law ofKarma68 and dependent origination. Right view is the cognitive aspect ofour wisdom or knowing, as our view of the world forms all intentions,thoughts and actions. It is an intuitive insight that all beings enduresuffering and this can end with and understanding of the true nature of allthings. Right view precipitates right thoughts and right actions. Right intention is our mental energy that controls our actions – theethical part of wisdom. Right intention is commitment to self developmentbased upon our personal ethics. Without right intention our ethics arecovered up by our emotions which overshadow our mental energy withemotional energy. Right intention involves resistance to desire, anger,aversion, cruelty to others, or aggression. Therefore right intention is thesource of our compassion. Right speech is the first part of our ethical conduct within the ‘EightfoldPath’. Speech is considered very powerful and be as potent as action,therefore it is important to abstain from false speech, deceitfulness,slanderous speech, maliciousness, offensive or hurtful language to others,and idle chatter that lacks purpose. Right speech encourages a positiveframe of telling the truth, speaking friendly, warm and gently, and onlytalking when necessary. The second part of ethical conduct is Right action. Right action involvesthe body as a means of expression, and deeds that involve bodily actions.Poor action leads to ethical degeneration, while wholesome actionsreinforce our sense of ethics. Right action is restraining oneself fromharming other beings, especially the taking of life, taking what is not given,dishonesty, and sexual misconduct. In the positive frame Right action isabout acting kindly to others, being compassionate, honest, respecting thebelongings of others, and keeping sexual relationships harmless to others. The third aspect of ethical conduct is Right livelihood. Right livelihoodis about earning a living in a righteous way, where wealth is gainedethically, legally and peacefully. Dealing in weapons, dealing in livingbeings, i.e., raising animals for slaughter, the slave trade and prostitution,working in meat production and butchery, and selling intoxicants andpoisons, as well as anything that violates Right speech and Right actionshould be avoided. Right effort is the first aspect of mental development. This is aprerequisite for all the other elements along the path. Effort is an act of willwhich without, nothing can be achieved. Misguided effort leads one intodelusion and negative Karma and confusion. Right effort depends upon ourmental energy which can be positive producing self discipline, honesty,benevolence, and kindness, or negative producing desire, envy, aggression,and even violence. Right effort is necessary to prevent unwholesome 57
  15. 15. occurrences, abandon unwholesome states that have already occurred, toarouse wholesome states that have not yet occurred, and maintaincontinuing wholesome states. Right mindfulness is the preferred state of cognition. This is awarenessthat brings the ability to see things for what they really are – a high level ofconsciousness. Right mindfulness is both part of our perceptions andthoughts, to see beyond our stereotyped impressions and existing biases andpatterning.69 Through mindfulness one can control the way thoughts go andmaintain wholesomeness. Four bases of mindfulness exist; contemplation ofbody, contemplation of feelings, contemplation of state of mind, andcontemplation of phenomena. The final principle of the ‘Eightfold Path’ is Right concentration. Rightconcentration refers to the development of focus in our consciousness. Thiscan be enhanced through the practice of meditation. In addition to the above Buddhist paradigm, other aspects of Dharmacan also be developed into additional frames. These may include theconcept of dependent origination which has influenced quantum andsystems thinking, interpreting Samsara as organizational typologies inorganizational development, and utilizing the concept of Karma in ethicsand strategy. There is very little evidence of direct influence of Buddhist Dharmaupon business in Asia. Many studies mix Buddhist and Confucianphilosophies which although bear some similarities, are also contrastinglydifferent.70 Although some cases are reported,71 the Buddhist business ismore myth than reality. This is partly because there is very little consensusabout what a Buddhist venture would actually be like (the author’sinterpretation is only one possible interpretation). The only visible evidenceis the belief and practice of a degenerated form of corrupted Buddhism,mixed with superstitious rituals, artifacts, ceremonies, giving donations tothe temple for positive Karma, and praying to Bodhisatvta for wealth andprosperity. However, Buddhist Dharma has influenced Western psychologysignificantly. The teachings of the Abhidhamma Pitaka have inspired andinfluenced many psychoanalysts and psychologists,72 including Carl Jung,Erich Fromm, Albert Ellis, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Marsha M. Linehan. Therehas been a great leap forward in humanitarian and transpersonalphilosophical influence in therapy.73 Dialogue between philosophy theoristsand practitioners of East and West has led to mutually influentialrelationships between them.74 This has led to new insights into therapies andnew schools of thought on both sides.75 Many of these practices are beingused in modified forms for therapy today.76 Aspects of Buddhist Dharmaare also incorporated in the works of Western philosophers includingCaroline A. F. Rhys David and Alan Watts. 58
  16. 16. Applying Buddhist philosophy to organization and management in“Western society” is also not new. Writers have focused upon the quantumanalogies of Buddhism,77 ethics,78 and humanist views.79 The wheel ofSamsara provides insight that emotions play a major role in allorganizations,80 where occidental organization theories have tended toignore the role of emotion in organizations until quite recently.81 The concepts of dependent origination through systems theory and areframed ‘Eightfold Path’ is similar to many of the concepts within thelearning organization. Peter Senge is the Director for OrganizationalLearning at the Sloan Business School at MIT in Boston. He was one of thehigh profile academics during the 1990’s and propelled the concept ofLearning Organization into the management vocabulary. Senge defines thelearning organization “where people continually expand their capacity tocreate the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns ofthinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and wherepeople are continually learning to see the whole together.”82 Suchorganizations according to Senge will be able to face the rapidly changingenvironment with flexibility and adaptation, driven by peoples’ willingnessand capacity to learn at all levels. However current organization structuresand form are not conducive to learning and people although having greatcapacity to learn, do not have the tools needed.83 Senge believes that people want to be part of something bigger thanthemselves to grow and this is where they have opportunities to re-create’themselves. The prevailing method of learning in organizations is adaptivelearning focused on survival, but for a learning organization there must alsobe generative learning, organizational learning disabilities can beovercome. Generative learning requires a mastering of five disciplines:• Systems thinking – seeing the world and events as a whole, where forcesbehind them are related. This helps us to see relationships and helps us tosee how to change things effectively with minimum effort, i.e., to findleverage points in the system. This has a lot of similarities with the conceptsof dependent origination;• Personal mastery – the process of continually deepening and enriching ourpersonal visions, the focusing of energies, developing patience and seeingreality objectively. Personal mastery could be considered a product of the‘Eightfold Path’;• Mental models – are unconscious metaphors of how we see things, whichinfluence how we act. If we can understand how we see things, we are in abetter position to see reality more objectively. Mental models are aboutwisdom and right mindfulness;• Building shared vision – to develop a shared picture which will createcommitment, rather than just compliance by individuals. Building shared 59
  17. 17. vision is about right intention, right action, right effort, and rightconcentration; and• Team learning – is the ability of the group to rid themselves of theirassumptions and begin to think together. This must be done openly withoutanyone trying to win. Team learning is about the journey that the ‘Eightfoldpath’ takes a community.These disciplines can be focused towards seeing wholes, rather than parts,seeing people as active participants, rather than helpless reactors and tocreating the future, rather than reacting to the past. Senge and his team spent many years developing this process. Howevercompanies found it extremely difficult to implement as managers wereunwilling to give up power, management didn’t give enough flexibility andauthority to staff, individuals weary about taking on the responsibility,managers and employees just simply didn’t have the skills and the processwas undermined by organizational politics, something which is not directlytackled in Senge’s process. Learning organizations are fundamentallydifferent from authoritarian organizations and it was beyond management tolet go and make these radical changes. Learning organization is not a quickfix as many had assumed, but a daunting task requiring exploration ofindividual performance, personality and ambitions in life, somethingbeyond many peoples’ willingness to make commitment. There are feworganizations that resemble Senge’s model and while business wants todevelop long term growth and stability, their focus is on enhancing brandrecognition and status,84 intellectual capital and knowledge and productdevelopment and ensuring production and distribution efficiency,85 andsolid financial returns.86 There have been many suggestions that Senge’smodel is just too idealistic and perhaps ahead of its time because of itsrevolutionary approach87 and that it will take people to really make acommitment to organizational life in new ways. In 1994, Senge with hiscolleagues published the fieldbook88 providing more ideas and suggestionsabout how to develop the process of learning organization.5. The Islamic ParadigmWorld events and media portrayal of Islam over the last few decades hasprojected negative images, which are based on a total misunderstanding ofIslam and the principles it encompasses.89 Predominantly, Islam throughmany eyes is seen as a homogenous view of the world, where manyelements of the media have stereotyped90 it as an extreme religion. Thissituation has not been assisted by the lack of published academic andintellectual thought,91 which could assist in developing more balanced 60
  18. 18. views about what the principals of Islam stand for. The focus of mostpublished works on Islamic economics and business has been in thedomains of finance and morals,92 which leads most to the conclusion thatIslam has little to contribute in the theories of economics and business. The first and most comprehensive model of Islamic economy in moderntimes was published by Dr. M. Umer Chapra in the early 1990’s. Hishypothesis was that existing economic models of capitalism, Marxism,socialism and the welfare state have failed to provide full employment,remove poverty, fulfill needs and minimize inequalities of incomedistribution. Both the market and centrally planned models have been weakin providing overall wellbeing, where problems of family disintegration,conflict and tensions, crime, alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illnesshave indicated a lack of happiness and contentment in the life ofindividuals. Dr. Chapra stated that a new system needs to be consideredwhich could optimize human wellbeing and presented an Islamic model ofeconomy, which never been tried or implemented in any world economyand has potential to solve common economic problems due to the overallhumanitarian goal of achieving the wellbeing of all members of society.93 The message of Islam forms its basis from the Al-Qur’an, which is thedirect word of Allah (S.W.T.). The Hadĭths are documents made up oflessons taken from the life of the Messenger Muhammad (S.A.W.), writtendown by a number of apostles, which put the knowledge from the Al-Qur’an in both context in which they were revealed and assist in developinga general and universal significance.94 Without the Hadĭths many importantaspects of Islam would not be known today and the Al-Qur’an would be atthe mercy of those who misinterpret it.95 To date, “The fanaticism and prejudice for Western managerial systemshave also, among other things, veiled the relevancy of Islam as a model ofmanagement, as well as generating a cynical reaction that the Islamic modelexisted in history and concept only, but never practiced in modern life, evenby countries with a Muslim Majority.”96 Islamic scholars argue three mainreasons for the need to develop and implement an Islamic businessframework: 1. The nature of man: Man has both the potential to rise to great spiritualheights and also disintegrate into total immorality. Man’s ability to actrightly or wrongly is a matter of moral choice. Under the Islamic viewpoint,man’s purpose on earth to carry out ibadah (relates man to Allah {S.W.T}through spiritual acts)97 and follow God’s will with total devotion,according to his natural disposition (fitrah); where everything fits into thedivine pattern under the laws of Allah (S.W.T).98 Submission to the laws ofAllah (S.W.T) brings harmony to man, however man was created withmany weaknesses,99 forgetfulness,100 greed for material comforts andpower,101 is capable of oppressiveness and ignorance,102 is rash and 61
  19. 19. impatient,103 stringy and miserably,104 ungrateful,105 quarrelsome,106ruthless,107 and full of self interest,108 which can easily lead him astray. 2. The amoral society: General society has become amoral and lapsed infaith, believing that truth and reality is based on what can be touched,smelled, seen, heard and tasted. This has lead to a society that has becomematerialistic and less spiritual. This absence of spirituality is leadingbusiness into immoral activities such as stealing, lying, fraud and deceit,making people believe that they cannot succeed without pursuing the samepractices.109 3. The underdevelopment of Islamic societies: Approximately 80% ofthe World’s Muslins live in poverty, as cultural minorities in othercountries, with high incidences of unemployment and low productivity.110Countries with majority Muslin populations, are declining in theirknowledge generation, research, innovation and educational standards,111have a generally a lower life expectancy, higher illiteracy rates, lower GDPper capita rates with the majority of people living in fragile and non-arablelands, poorer infrastructure and water supplies and a larger number ofdependents than the non-Islamic World.112 Islamic GDP as a percentage oftotal World GDP is estimated to be only 45% of what it should be, in orderto be on par with the rest of the world.113 The basic Islamic principles and their interrelationships are shown infigure 3 below. Tawhid Fard’ain Al-Iman Syar’iah Ad-Din Fard’ Kifayah Al-Ilm Halal Toyyibaan Al-Amal Musharakah Ibadah Al-Ta’awun Shu’ra Adab Al-Fasad Amanah Al-Fatah UmmahFigure 3 An Islamic Business Framework 62
  20. 20. The Al-Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), who wasborn into a trading family and brought up by Abu Talib, who was a trader.Society in the Prophet’s time was almost totally dependent on trade as ameans to earn a living and unlike any other religion, the Al-Qur’an isheavily written in the metaphor of business and trade. Within many parts ofthe Al-Qur’an life is paralleled to a business venture, where one earnsprofits to gain entry into heaven – profits meaning faith and good deeds toothers and those that accept Allah’s (SWT) guidance as a bargain to savethem from punishment on judgment day.114 Islam urges individuals to strivetheir utmost to earn large monetary rewards and spiritual profits, while atthe same time being inspired to be successful and honest people.115 This ispart of the concept of ad-din, which makes material and spiritual pursuitsinseparable, where one’s whole life is concerned with the needs ofhumankind here on earth to secure a comfortable life in the Hereafter.116Consequently, Islam does not prohibit worldly success,117 in fact Allah(SWT) has provided opportunities for humankind to obtain success and it iscertainly the responsibility of the individual to do so.118 Howeverinvolvement in business should also carry with it benevolent intentions forothers while seeking success for oneself.119 Islam espouses a market economy with freedom of the individual tooperate a business with minimal outside interference: “He who brings goodsto the market is blessed with bounty, he who withholds them is cursed.”(Ibn Majah & Al Hakim) A market mechanism is urged with free flowing knowledge withoutexploitation by middlemen: “Do not chase after those who are going to themarket before they reach the place” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim).Islam also prohibits price manipulation: “Anyone who withholds goodsuntil the price rises is a sinner” (Muslim). Thus Islam espouses that free trade is a major factor in the enhancementof living standards of the general community, subject to some constraints onbusiness in the interests of the wider community. Central to Islam is Tawhid, “…a man’s commitment to Allah, the focusof all his reverence and gratitude, the only source of value. What Allahdesires for man becomes value for him, the end of all human endeavor.”120Tawhid is the Islamic way of life, the fundamental of all Islamiccivilization, which is process, means and end together. Tawhid is both theessence of the individual and the society he or she lives in. Tawhid isacceptance of one creator and His divine guidance of humanity.121 Tawhidimplies both the mission and morality of humankind in both social andspiritual contexts. Mankind’s responsibilities under Tawhid fall into two categories,fard’ain which is an individual’s obligation to perform his or her religiousduties and fard kifayah, which is an obligation for man to serve the entire 63
  21. 21. community, through services to each other, necessary for the community tolive safely and comfortably. Thus the obligation to improve the MuslimUmmah (community) falls under fard kifayah,122 where undertakingbusiness is the principal method123 of improving the economy andcommunity: “Be involved in business as nine out of ten sources of incomelie in business” (Ihya). The building blocks of Tawhid are the concepts of al-iman (belief), al-ilm (knowledge) and al-amal (pious acts and efforts). Al-iman is the beliefin the existence of one God and Creator, with a commitment to Histeachings and revelations, revealed through the Al-Qur’an, and Prophets,through the Hadĭths and Sunnah (what the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.)said, did, agreed or disagreed to). Our faith in Allah (S.W.T.) is reflected inour daily behavior, influenced by our moral system formed and containedwithin us. It is our inner self: “Faith is not expectations and not outwardornamentations, but implanted in the heart and realized through actions”(Ibn Najjar & Dailami). Al-iman is deepened by al-ilm,124 which is the responsibility of allMuslims to seek125 in order to fulfill and perform al-amal. Knowledge(spiritual, wisdom and scientific) is the foundation of all acts of al-amalwhich would be futile and unproductive without the search for furtherknowledge126 to enhance the wellbeing of society.127 Islam places greatimportance on scientific discovery, knowledge and wisdom to developcivilisation.128 Al-iman and al-ilm manifested through al-amal is the basis ofthe advancement of civilization for the benefit of humankind and theUmmah (Muslim community), in particular. This is undertaken under theprincipal of ad-din, mentioned above, which is referred to as ibadah. In Islam a person, who of faith, knowledge and pious devotion,manifested in effort and acts, using reason and experience and adheres tothe teachings of the Al-Qur’an and Prophets is a person of Taqwa, adheringto the philosophy of Tawhid. He is fulfilling his purpose on earth to performibadah129 to God, through obedience (ta’ah), which conforms to his true andessential nature (fitrah) of man. This relates man to God through everythingan individual does, including spiritual duties, thoughts, actions and deeds toother people.130 As man operates in a social environment, Islam prescribes a number offorms of business organization, through which his obligations can befulfilled. A mushharakah can take a number of forms:a) Mudarabah: Partnership where one manages the partnership and anothersupplies the financial support,b) Shirkah: where two or more individuals pool financial resources andshare profit and loss on an agreed ratio and held liable to the extent of theircapital, and 64
  22. 22. c) Syari’ah: each partner is able to operate other businesses, independent ofthe principal business.Such business organizations are founded and operated on the principle ofal-ta’awun (mutual assistance and cooperation) among members of asociety for both their mutual benefit and that of a society as a whole.131 Islamic business is governed by the rules of syar’iah, the path by whichall Muslims should follow. The syar’iah is the divine law that establishesthe standards of justice and human conduct, as well as what is permitted andprohibited in action. The syar’iah is based on the Al-Qur’an, Sunnah andinterpretations by Islamic scholars. Some Muslim scholars have stated thatthese standards are beyond human and are a goal or path of guidance,132where others see these utopian ideals as mandatory for advancement of thecommunity.133 Central to the syar’iah are the concepts of Halal and Toyyibaan, whichgovern all the economic activities of man in wealth production andconsumption of wealth, where certain means of gaining a livelihood aredeclared unlawful.134 Halal means lawful or permitted for Muslins,135 aconcept that is much wider than just issues of food, concerning as towhether things are undertaken according to the syar’iah.136 Toyyibaan is amuch wider concept, meaning good, clean, wholesome, ethical in theIslamic concept. In nutrition, Toyyibaan is much wider than Halal, as foodmust also be clean, safe, nutritious, healthy and balanced.137 Toyyibaanwould also mean that agriculture must be undertaken within sustainablepractices,138 and in business that things are done with good intentions.139 Haram (Those things prohibited by Traceable Allah in the Al Qu’ran) Sustainable HACCP environment, community & business Supply GMP Chain Community Benefit Toyyibaan Non-exploitive Ethical Healthy Clean 65
  23. 23. Figure 4 The concept of Halal and Toyyibaan in relation to HACCP and GMP.140In Islam, the individual’s vision, mission and objectives in business is toachieve both success in this world and the hereafter. This is al-falah. Islamputs very little restriction upon the scale of worldly success,141 exceptspecifying, it must be reasonable, provides the comforts of worldly life,142with consideration to the poor and suffering,143 and within the balance ofworldly and spiritual life.144 Mans success must also serve the legitimateneeds of the ummah.145 This is in great contrast to the singular objective ofprofit maximization in contemporary business thinking.146 Allah (S.W.T.) equipped man with the faculties of understanding rightand wrong, so that he may obtain a bright destiny.147 Man has a free choicein what he chooses. Opposition and straying from his true nature (fitrah)will bring discord to the individual where negative attributes will distort histrue nature, which could lead him into doing evil deeds.148 The individualhas his al-iman and al-ilm to keep him from this path of self destruction (al-fasad), which would manifest itself through nepotism, favoritism, envy,greed, corruption, injustice and ignorance.149 This in Islam is the influenceof satan, manifested in many different ways to man to lure him away fromGod’s chosen path for him. Man becomes unfocused through ignorance andlack of knowledge.150 Achieving al-falah means that man has lived up to God’s trust placedupon him, through performing his ibadah, while obeying all the laws of thesyar’iah. This is where man has overcome his weaknesses in the service ofAllah (S.W.T.) through righteous deeds (amal), in his obligation of fardkifayah. Man has reached the state of amanah, fulfilling the trust God hasput in him.151 Islam also specifies the way organizations should be operated andmanaged. As discussed, an organization must base all its work on al-amaland ibadah with the overall management objective of achieving al-falah forthe organization as a whole and each individual within it. This is based upona foundation of al-iman and al-ilm, within a civilization based upon aTawhid philosophy, so that employees have the opportunity to achievetaqwa and avoid straying towards the state of al-fasad. Central to achievingthis are the concepts of shura (participation in decision making andcommunity learning) and adab (justice and rights). Shura is total organizational community participation in decisionmaking to ensure an organization gets the best views, is creative, to developemployees understanding of decisions made, to achieve betterimplementation of decisions and strengthen the Islamic fraternity.152 Shurais can also be seen as a organizational control mechanism to preventmanagement and individuals within the organization from straying downthe path of ignorance, greed and oppression,153 so that the organization can 66
  24. 24. continue to serve its members and the wider community and thus sustainitself. Shura creates a positive learning environment within an organization,similar to the concepts of a learning organization postulated by PeterSenge.154 The Al-Qur’an states that the concept of shura is mandatory uponany organisation.155 An organization should build its foundations upon the basic principles ofhuman rights in its administration based on the concept of adab. Adab isbased on the existence and recognition of Allah (S.W.T.) and recognition ofhis commands and laws (syar’iah). Within an organizational context, adabpersuades man to do good and avoid evil (al-fasad), in accordance with thenature of man (fitrah) and nature of his action (al-amal). Adab comprisesfour major responsibilities, 1. responsibility to God, 2. responsibility tooneself, 3. responsibility to society and other human beings, and 4.responsibility to the universe and other creatures.156 Over the last few decades ‘Western’ management ideas and ethics havemoved closer to Islamic principles and ethics. Stephen Covey, a devoutpracticing member of The Church of Latter-Day Saints, evangelisticallypreaches personal development, fulfillment and spirituality within thecontext of the organization. Covey’s first book The Seven Habits of HighlyEffective people set a standard of highly ethical and humanistic principlesthat all individuals should strive for in business:157• Be proactive as this will develop the ability to control one’s environment,rather than be controlled by it, as is generally the case;• Begin tasks with the end result in mind, avoid distractions and concentrateonly on relevant activities, which will make you much more productive;• Organize correctly and undertake the most important tasks first in a stepby step approach;• Look for win-win strategies so that all benefit;• Listen to people first and understand them before you try to make themunderstand you, which will assist in maintaining positive relationships withpeople;• Look to develop synergy between people which will develop a betteroutcome, greater than what individuals can achieve working by themselves;and• Continually seek self-renewal, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, sociallyand physically.Covey’s book sold over 15 million copies and launched him on a career ofconsulting to many of the top Fortune 500 companies. Covey built atraining and consultancy company which has over 12,000 direct facilitatorswith curriculum materials translated into numerous languages. Covey’sorganization has also developed pilot programs with cities wishing tobecome principle centered communities. Covey’s set of life rules is not 67
  25. 25. without their critics who claim his ideals are too idealistic and difficult toimplement as well as being seen as a quick fix approach. However, this doesnot detract from the extremely large following of devotees to Covey’smethods growing around the world. There are similarities with PeterDrucker, Dale Carnegie and David Allen in the approach. Dale Carnegie’swork is also on the rise again in popularity and consequently, corporationsare taking notice of the importance of employee personal growth within thecorporate environment. The above ‘Western’ management ‘gurus’ have had great impact uponthe corporate world and way management is taught at business schools. Inthe world where 20% of the population follow Islam, there is little evidencethat Islamic management principles are practiced in Islamic countries ofSouth East Asia. Ironically, unlike the ‘West’, Islamic Scholars, inagreement with Dr. Umer Chapra’s observations have not agreed due tovarious interpretations of Islam to a universal Islamic business model forthe Islamic World to embrace and espouse. ‘Western’ managementscientists have taken the initiative on similar principles that were laid downin the Al Qu’ran and Hadiths, more than 1500 years ago. Commercially, the Islamic model is increasing in importance today.There is a growing awareness among Muslims about their duties andresponsibilities to adhere to the Tawhid. As Muslim consumers requiremore Islamic goods and services,158 Islamic compliant supply chaindevelopment is a major growth industry in itself, and is becoming a featurewithin conventional supply chains internationally. The concepts ofHalal/Toyyibaan are compatible with GMP/HACCP, and also incorporate astrong ethical framework that is consistent with the rapidly growing global‘ethical product’ and ‘Fairtrade’ movements.159 However how many‘Islamic corporations’ on the ground are actually complying with Islamicprinciples, other than Halal certification remains an interesting area forfuture research. Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are developing Halalfood hubs without taking into consideration the underlying Tawhidprinciples to make these proposed hubs holistic in their approach to Islamicbusiness.6. ConclusionThe relevance of any paradigm to business and management depends uponthe meaning and inspiration it provides, rather than the scientific validity.Scientific validity is not really very important as long as management ideascapture the imagination and promotes action. This can be seen by themanagement thinking arising in the 1990s within the US which inspired the‘battle cry’ against the oriental onslaught at the time. 68
  26. 26. Our sojourn through four Asian paradigms superficially shows that incontemporary society, each paradigm has probably more influence in‘Western’ management thought than in Asian management thinking. Theonly probable exception is Confucianism which could cautiously beassociated with the structure, process, and strategies of family ownedChinese businesses in Southeast Asia. However even the influence of thisparadigm is declining as ‘occidental management paradigms’ learned by‘Gen Y’ children of patriarchal leaders return home from study abroad withnew ideas. Yet this does not mean the disappearance of Confucianism as aninfluence on management as the cognitive and ethical aspects may enjoy arenaissance in China this century.160 This is the challenge to management academics and practitioners in theAsian region. It is the task of looking locally through the rich history,culture, society, stories, and philosophies of the region for inspiration todevelop and construct ‘homegrown’ management ideas, rather thanimporting ideas developed in other parts of the world, which are suitable forthose parts of the world. Confucian, Buddhist, Strategy, and Islamicinstitutes of thought exist all over the region, but there has been little focuson developing these philosophies as management paradigms. Today there isan intense vacuum of original management thinkers in the Asian region. Although Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ and Buddhist Dharma originatedin the Asian region, it has primarily been ‘Western’ management thinkerswho have applied the respective philosophies to management, at least inthese contemporary times. Although the Islamic ‘Tawhid’ is 1500 years old,it is probably only now that it is being considered seriously as amanagement philosophy. Before now, Islamic thought has had negligibleinfluence on contemporary business, but the market may change that,although Islamic society itself has not taken Islamic concepts onboard intobusiness until this time. The nature of Muslim consumers and the rapidgrowth of the Halal market globally will be a driver of change here. The paradigms discussed in this paper intellectually, philosophically,and practically have a lot to add to the development of ethical business,human relations, conflict management, organizational learning, and evencreativity development. Using each paradigm as a metaphor assists usunderstand the paradoxes and contradictions of business in the Asianenvironment. One of the issues is interpretation. Max Weber interpretedConfucianism as a negative force to economic growth and William Ouchiprobably understated the influence of Confucianism in Japanese businesshierarchy and decision making. Using a single metaphor provides a biasedinsight,161 but when multiple metaphors are used, we can see that somethingmay have various layers of meaning. Finally, the author could have selected other paradigms that haveinfluenced business and management in the Asian region. For example the 69
  27. 27. Taoist traditions probably have an important influence on Chinesecognition in Southeast Asia,162 and Hinduism heavily influences society andthe nature of business in South Asia.163 In addition there are a number ofother frames that can be utilized to elicit meaning. Such paradigms as‘feudalism’, ‘developing nation’, ‘government sponsored capitalism’,‘crony capitalism’, ‘cowboy entrepreneurship’, ‘adventurism’, ‘Sufism’,‘Sikhism’, ’Shinto traditions’, ‘Machiavellism and diplomacy’ etc, can bringnew layers of meaning. These can be built up into relevant meta-theoriesand interchanged to shed more understanding of the dynamics of Asianbusiness and economy. NOTES AND REFERENCES 1. The Japanese success was not a sudden one. Faced with a completelydestroyed economy in 1945, language difficulties, lack of resources, and a reputationfor poor quality goods, the Government, business and banks worked on long termstrategies to reestablish Japanese industry. 2. Kotler, P., Fahey, L., and Jatusriptak, S. (1985), The New Competition:Meeting the Marketing Challenge from the Far East. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:Prentice/Hall International. 3. Ohmae, K. (1982), The Mind of the Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business.New York: McGraw-Hill. 4. Schonberger, R. J. (1982), Japanese Manufacturing Techniques: Nine HiddenLessons in Simplicity. New York: Free Press. 5. Pascale, R. T., and Athos, A. G. (1982), The Art of Japanese Management:Applications for American Executives. New York: Warner Books. 6. Ouchi, W. (1982), Theory Z: How American Business Can Meet the JapaneseChallenge. New York: Avon Books. 7. Ouchi, W. (1984), The M Form Society: How American Teamwork CanCapture the Competitive Edge. New York: Perseus Books. 8. Morita, A., (1987), Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony. London: WilliamCollins. 9. Backman, M. (2004), The Asian Insider: Unconventional Wisdom for AsianBusiness, New York, Palgrave Macmillan. 10. Studwell, J. (2007), Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong andSoutheast Asia. New York: Grove Press. 11. Lasserre, P., and Schūtte, H. (1995), Strategies for Success in Asia Pacific:Meeting New Challenges. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 12. Krugman, P. (1994), “The Myth of Asia’s Miracle,” Foreign Affairs 73(6):62-78. 13. See for example: Engardio, P., (2007), China: How China and India AreRevolutionizing Global Business. New York: McGraw-Hill; Yang, K. (2007),Entrepreneurship in China. Aldershot: Ashgate; and Nie, W., Xin, K., and Zhang, L.(2009), Made in China: Secrets of China’s Dynamic Entrepreneurs. Singapore: JohnWiley & Sons. 70
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