Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 126, Issue 4, pp 613–630 | Cite as

The Role of Qing (Positive Emotions) and Li1 (Rationality) in Chinese Entrepreneurial Decision Making: A Confucian Ren-Yi Wisdom Perspective



The intellectual debates on wise entrepreneurship behavior such as decision making tend to focus on the relationship between economic rationality and morality, while overlooking the important role affect plays. To fill in this gap, this paper proposes a theoretical framework based on the Confucian concepts of ren (love and compassion) and yi (righteousness or rightness) and studies their practical manifestation in qing (positive emotions) and li1 (rationality) for decision making. Drawing from 32 in-depth interviews and 52 vignettes with Chinese SME entrepreneurs, this study has found that qing (emotions) plays an essential role in decision making. Chinese entrepreneurs had to deal with the dilemma relating to qing (positive emotions) and li1 (rationality) holistically to reach a balanced outcome in their everyday business practices. As a major contribution, this study extends the study of Confucian ethics by highlighting ren-yi as an important perspective for understanding Chinese entrepreneurial decision making and also for promoting the affective dimensions for entrepreneurial ethical decision making in general.


Confucian ethics Ren (love and compassion) Yi (righteousness) Qing (positive emotions) Li1 (rationality) Entrepreneurial decision making 



Thanks are given to Professor Herb Hildebrandt, Professor Neal Ashkanasy, and Pingxin Zhang for their valuable input and comments on the previous versions of this paper. Thanks are also given to the section editor Professor Alejo Jose G. Sison and the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable and constructive comments.

Glossary of Major Chinese Terms used in this Paper


礼 (rites)


理 (rationality)


仁 (love and compassion)


情 (positive emotions)


五伦 (five relations)


心 (affect domain)


义 (righteousness)


义理 (righteous order)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Business School, Faculty of Business, Economics and LawUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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