Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 113, Issue 1, pp 91–103 | Cite as

Confucian and Taoist Work Values: An Exploratory Study of the Chinese Transformational Leadership Behavior

  • Liang-Hung Lin
  • Yu-Ling Ho
  • Wei-Hsin Eugenia Lin


When it comes to Chinese transformational leadership behavior, the focus seems to be Confucian work value; nonetheless, it represents only one of the Chinese traditions. In order to have a better understanding the relationship between Chinese traditional values and transformational leadership behavior, Taoist work value should also be taken into consideration. Thus, this study firstly develops Confucian and Taoist work value scale (study 1) and then applies this scale to examine its relationship with transformational leadership (study 2). The results show that while Confucian work value is the most consistent predictor of core transformational leader behavior and high-performance expectations, Taoist work value is the most consistent predictor of intellectual stimulation.


Confucian work value Taoist work value Transformational leadership 


  1. Avolio, B. A., & Bass, B. M. (1995). Individual consideration viewed at multiple levels of analysis: A multi-level framework for examining the diffusion of transformational leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 11, 199–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Avolio, B. A., Bass, B. M., & Jung, D. I. (1999). Re-examining the components of transformational and transactional leadership using the multifactor leadership questionnaire. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 72, 441–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership performance beyond expectations. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bass, B. M., & Avolio, B. J. (1993a). Transformational leadership and organizational culture. Public Administration Quarterly, 17(1), 112–121.Google Scholar
  5. Bass, B. M., & Avolio, B. J. (1993b). Transformational leadership: A response to critiques. In M. M. Chemers & R. Avman (Eds.), Leadership theory and research: Perspectives and directions (pp. 49–80). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bass, B. M., Avolio, B. J., Jung, D. I., & Berson, Y. (2003). Predicting unit performance by assessing transformational and transactional leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(2), 207–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bond, M., Akhtar, H., Ball, P., Bhanthumnavin, D., Boski, P., Carment, W., et al. (1987). Chinese values and the search of culture free dimensions of culture. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 18(2), 143–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bono, J. E., & Judge, T. A. (2004). Personality and transformational and transactional leadership: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(5), 901–910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bruck, C. S., & Allen, T. D. (2003). The relationship between big five personality traits, negative affectivity, Type A behavior, and work-family conflict. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 63, 457–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carlson, D. S., & Perrewe, P. L. (1995). Institutionalisation of organizational ethics through transformational leadership. Journal of Business Ethics, 14(10), 828–838.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cheung, C., & Chan, A. C. (2005). Philosophical foundations of eminent Hong Kong CEOs’ leadership. Journal of Business Ethics, 60, 47–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chia, R. (2003). From knowledge-creation to the perfecting of action: Tao, Basho and pure experience as the ultimate group of knowing. Human Relations, 56(8), 953–981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cleary, T. (1991). The essential tao. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  14. Costa, P. T., Jr, & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO personality inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO five-factor (NEO-FFI) inventory professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  15. Davis, D. D. (2004). The tao of leadership in virtual teams. Organizational Dynamics, 33(1), 47–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. DeGroot, T., Kiker, D. S., & Cross, T. C. (2000). A meta-analysis to review organizational outcomes related to charismatic leadership. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, 17(4), 356–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dreher, D. (1996). The tao of personal leadership. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  18. Durlabhji, D. (2004). The tao of organization behavior. Journal of Business Ethics, 52, 401–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Farh, J. L., Earley, P. C., & Lin, S. C. (1997). Impetus for action: A cultural analysis of justice and organizational citizenship behavior in Chinese society. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42, 421–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Franke, H. F., Hofstede, G., & Bond, M. H. (1991). Cultural roots of economic performance: A research note. Strategic Management Journal, 12, 165–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hahn, C. K., & Waterhouse, W. C. (1972). Confucius theories of man and organization. Academy of Management Journal, 15, 355–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hansen, C. (1992). A Daoist theory of Chinese thought. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Hofstede, G. (1996). An American in Paris: The influence of nationality on organizational theories. Organization Studies, 17, 525–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hofstede, G. (2007). Asian management in the 21st century. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 24, 411–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hofstede, G., & Bond, M. (1988). The Confucius connection: From cultural roots to economic growth. Organizational Dynamics, 16, 5–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hofstede, G., van Deusen, C. A., Mueller, C. B., Charles, T. A., & The Business Goals Network. (2002). What goats do business leaders pursue? A study of 15 countries. Journal of International Business Studies, 33, 785–803.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. James, L. R., Demaree, R. G., & Wolf, G. (1984). Estimating within-group interrater reliability with and without response bias. Journal of Applied Psychology, 69(1), 85–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jöreskog, K. G., & Sörbom, D. (1993). LISREL VIII: An analysis of linear structural relationships by maximum likelihood instrumental variables and least square methods (8th ed.). Morresville, NC: Scientific Software.Google Scholar
  30. Judge, T. A., & Bono, J. E. (2000). Five-factor model of personality and transformational leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 751–765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Keller, R. T. (2006). Transformational leadership, initiating structure, and substitutes for leadership: A longitudinal study of research and development project team performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(1), 202–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lau, D. C. (Trans.) (1984). Mencius. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Lau, D. C. (Trans.) (1992). The analects (Lun Yu)/Confucius. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Lau, D. C. (Trans.) (2001). Toa Te Ching. Hong Kong: Chinese University PressGoogle Scholar
  35. Lin, Y. (1938). The wisdom of Confucius. New York: Modern Library.Google Scholar
  36. Lin, Y. (1948). The wisdom of Laotse. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  37. Lin, L. H., & Ho, Y. L. (2009). Confucian dynamism, cultural and ethical changes in Chinese societies—a comparative study of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 20(11), 2402–2417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lowe, K. B., Kroeck, K. G., & Sivasubramaniam, N. (1996). Effectiveness correlates of transformational and transactional leadership: A meta-analytic review of the MLQ literature. Leadership Quarterly, 7, 385–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. MacKenzie, S. B., Podsakoff, P. M., & Rich, G. A. (2001). Transformational and transactional leadership and salesperson performance. Academy of Marketing Science Journal, 29(2), 115–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mintzberg, H. (1998). Covert leadership: Notes on managing professionals, Harvard Business Review November–December (pp. 140–147).Google Scholar
  41. Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., & Bommer, W. H. (1996). Transformational leadership behaviors and substitutes for leadership as determinants of employee satisfaction, commitment, trust, and organizational citizenship behaviors. Journal of Management, 22(2), 259–298.Google Scholar
  42. Qian, M. (1976). The spirit of Chinese history (Chinese). Taipei: Don Da.Google Scholar
  43. Ralston, D. A., Gustafson, D. J., Elsass, P. M., & Cheung, F. (1992). Eastern values: A comparison of managers in the United States, Hong Kong, and the People’s Republic of China. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77(5), 664–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rubin, R. S., Munz, D. C., & Bommer, W. H. (2005). Leading from within: The effects of emotion recognition and personality on transformational leadership behavior. Academy of Management Journal, 48(5), 845–858.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schneider, B. (1975). Organizational climate: An essay. Personnel Psychology, 28, 447–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Shenkar, O., Luo, Y., & Yeheskel, O. (2008). From “distance” to “friction”: Substituting metaphors and redirecting intercultural research. Academy of Management Reviews, 33(4), 905–923.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Smith, P. B., & Peterson, M. F. (1988). Leadership, organizations, and culture: An event management model. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  48. Välikangas, L., & Okumura, A. (1997). Why do people follow? Leadership Quarterly, 8(3), 313–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Verellen, F. (1995). Taoism. Journal of Asian Studies, 54(2), 322–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Victor, B., & Cullen, J. B. (1988). The organizational bases of ethical work climates. Administrative Science Quarterly, 33(1), 101–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wong, T. L. (1993). Common dictionary for ancient Chinese (Chinese). Taipei: Publishers of Literature, History, and Philosophy.Google Scholar
  52. Yang, K. S., Yu, A. B., & Yeh, M. H. (1989). Chinese individual modernity and traditionality: Construct definition and measurement (Chinese). Proceedings of the Interdisciplinary Conference on Chinese Psychology and Behavior, 287–354.Google Scholar
  53. Yeh, R., & Lawrence, J. J. (1995). Individualism and Confucian dynamism: A note of Hofstede’s cultural root to economic growth. Journal of International Business Studies, 26, 655–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Yukl, G. A. (2002). Leadership in organizations. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liang-Hung Lin
    • 1
  • Yu-Ling Ho
    • 2
  • Wei-Hsin Eugenia Lin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of International BusinessNational Kaohsiung University of Applied SciencesKaohsiungTaiwan, ROC
  2. 2.General Education CenterNational Taitung Junior CollegeTaitungTaiwan

Personalised recommendations