A Zhong–Yong Perspective on Balancing the Top-down and Bottom-up Processes in Strategy-making .

‪Xiao-Dong ‪Li, Torben Juul Andersen, Carina Antonia Hallin

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: This paper proposes an alternative perspective on Zhong-Yong (中庸) that is different from the notion of 'Yin-Yang balancing' and applies it to understand the issue of balancing the top-down and bottom-up processes in strategy-making. Design/methodology/approach: We adopt a ‘West meets East’ mindset and approach to developing an alternative perspective on Zhong-Yong, and then apply this perspective to understand the issue of balancing the top-down and bottom-up processes in strategy-making. There are three steps in the process of developing the alternative perspective. First, we argue that the essence of ‘Yin-Yang balancing’ is a ratio-based solution to paradoxical balancing, which is in fact equivalent to Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean and compatible with some Western management scholars’ approaches to solving paradox. Second, we identify a different generic solution to paradoxical balancing implicit in the Western management literature. Third, we find in the original text of Zhong-Yong equivalent ideas to the identified different generic solution and then propose an alternative perspective on Zhong-Yong that is fundamentally different from the notion of ‘Yin-Yang balancing’. Findings: Applied to the issue of balancing the top-down and bottom-up processes in strategymaking, the new perspective on Zhong-Yong provides us with the following prescriptive insights from the life-wisdom of Eastern philosophy: First, top management (e.g., Shun as the sage-king) must listen to various views and opinions also from employees and low-level managers at the bottom of the organization to be better informed about complex issues. Second, top management must analyze the diverse elements of the various views and opinions they collect and synthesize by taking the good from the bad to find smarter solutions and make decisions with better outcomes. Third, abiding by a set of (more or less) cohesive values help top managers be open and receptive to information and insights from low-level organizational members and enhancing unbiased information.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
JournalCross Cultural & Strategic Management
Pages (from-to)313–336
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • strategy-making
  • balancing
  • Zhong-Yong
  • Yin-Yang
  • Paradox

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