The Effect of Confucian Work Ethics on Learning About Science and Technology Knowledge and Morality

Quey Jen Yeh, Xiaojun Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


While Chinese societies often appear centralized and traditional, presumably impeding technology and innovation, these values may simply reflect the negative-leaning poles of Confucianism. This study proposes a Confucian work ethic dimension that stresses justified tradition. In combination with Western innovative cultures, this Chinese style might facilitate learning about knowledge and morality in an interaction seemingly unique to the Chinese science and technology sector. Specifically, contrary to the Western style that tolerates conflict to achieve harmony, Confucian work ethics - an Eastern way - prefer to respect hierarchy to attain harmony. Samples from the multinational corporations in Shanghai and privately owned enterprises in Hsinchu of Taiwan represent two levels of Westernization. The findings reveal that the two types of cultures almost equally influence the facilitation of learning about morality, whereas the Western way more effectively teaches about professional knowledge and the Eastern way more effectively teaches general knowledge. In addition, though the samples from both locations enjoy positive advantages from their combined cultures, Shanghai appears more Westernized than Taiwan, and Taiwan benefits more from Confucian work ethics and a higher level of quality learning, particularly with regard to morality. This result may suggest the benefits of Confucius' ideas, if they are not used excessively to emphasize the negative aspects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-128
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


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