Humanistic leadership in a Chinese context

Bo Yang, Pingping Fu, ‘Alim J. Beveridge, Qing Qu

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Through three case studies, the authors aim to examine how Confucian humanistic philosophy can be applied to leadership practices and show how it is possible to practice humanistic leadership in the Chinese context. Design/methodology/approach: The authors use case studies of three exemplary humanistic leaders and the companies they lead to describe their leadership practices and influence on others and their companies. Findings: The authors identify three common elements that connect their observations to an emerging scholarly conceptualization of humanistic leadership and develop a framework of Confucian humanistic leadership consisting of five attributes. The cases the authors studied suggest that the five attributes should be understood as being mutually reinforcing and acting in concert, rather than each acting independently of the others. The authors found that there is inherent consistency and connection between the core values of Confucianism and humanistic leadership. Originality/value: The research contributes to the leadership literature, specifically the emerging literature on humanistic leadership, by introducing a framework for Confucian humanistic leadership. While much of the extant literature on humanistic leadership has been conceptual, the study shows how it is possible to practice humanistic leadership in the Chinese context by drawing on the foundation provided by Confucian humanistic philosophy. The findings also contribute to humanistic leadership research by providing important insights into specific capabilities that can help put the principles of humanistic leadership into practice, but that have not been considered to date.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-566
Number of pages20
JournalCross Cultural and Strategic Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2020


  • Confucian virtues
  • Humanistic leadership
  • Humanistic management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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