Management International Review

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 1–11 | Cite as

Indigenous Management Research

Guest Editor's Introduction


  • While the last years have witnessed a tremendous economic boom in many emerging markets around the world, the knowledge of management practices in these countries lags behind their growing relevance in the world economy. One reason for this is that concepts, such as guanxi, jugaad, ubuntu, and blat, are not adequately reflected by traditional Western management theories.

  • We call for more context-specific research and for drawing on indigenous thought in developing new theories that do not only help to better understand management practices in emerging markets, but contribute to global management knowledge as well.

  • Examples of indigenous management concepts are illustrated and adequate context-sensitive research methods, such as locally-meaningful constructs and measures, participatory research, storytelling, and visual ethnography, are discussed. Moreover, we provide an overview of current research and conclude with major implications for indigenous management research.


Indigenous management Cross-cultural management Emerging markets Research methods 


  1. Banerjee, S. B., & Prasad, A. (2008). Introduction to the special issue on “critical reflections on management and organizations: A postcolonial perspective”. Critical Perspectives on International Business, 4(2/3), 90–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boje, D. (2008). Storytelling organizations. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  3. Briggs, J. (2005). The use of indigenous knowledge in development: Problems and challenges. Progress in Development Studies, 5(2), 99–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Broodryk, J. (2005). Ubuntu management philosophy: Exporting ancient African wisdom into the global world. Johannesburg: Knowres.Google Scholar
  5. Cappelli, P., Singh, H., Singh, J., & Useem, M. (2010). The India way: Lessons for the U.S. Academy of Management Perspectives, 24(2), 6–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chacko, P., Noronha, C., & Agrawal, S. (2010). Small wonder: The making of the Nano. Chennai: Westland Books.Google Scholar
  7. Chatterjee, S. R. (2009). Managerial ethos of the Indian tradition: Relevance of a wisdom model. Journal of Indian Business Research, 1(2/3), 136–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen, C. C., Chen, Y.-R., & Xin, K. (2004). Guanxi practices and trust in management: A procedural justice perspective. Organization Science, 15(2), 200–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chilisa, B. (2011). Indigenous research methodologies. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Das, G. (2010). The difficulty of being good: On the subtle art of dharma. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Denzin, N. K., Lincoln, Y. S., & Smith, L. T. (2008). Handbook of critical and indigenous methodologies. Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
  12. Fan, Y. (2002). Questioning guanxi: Definition, classification and implications. International Business Review, 11(5), 543–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Farh, J.-L., Tsui, A. S., Xin, K., & Cheng, B.-S. (1998). The influence of relational demography and guanxi: The Chinese case. Organization Science, 9(4), 471–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gabriel, Y. (2000). Storytelling in organizations: Facts, fictions, and fantasies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gopinath, C. (1998). Alternative approaches to indigenous management in India. Management International Review, 38(3), 257–275.Google Scholar
  16. Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  17. Gu, F. F., Hung, K., & Tse, D. K. (2008). When does guanxi matter? Issues of capitalization and its dark sides. Journal of Marketing, 72(4), 12–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hooijberg, R., & Choi, J. (2000). From selling peanuts and beer in Yankee stadium to creating a theory of transformational leadership: An Interview with Bernie Bass. Leadership Quarterly, 11(2), 291–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Holtbrügge, D., & Schuster, T. (2011). Tata Nano: The car for the bottom of the pyramid. In J. Zentes et al. (Eds.), Fallstudien zum Internationalen Management (4th ed., pp. 83–102). Wiesbaden: Gabler.Google Scholar
  20. Holtbrügge, D., Weldon, A., & Rodgers, H. (2013). Cultural determinants of email communication styles. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 13(1). (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  21. Jackson, T. (2013). Reconstructing the indigenous in African management research: Implications for international management studies in a globalized world. Management International Review, 53(1). (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  22. Jackson, T., Amaeshi, K., & Yavuz, S. (2008). Untangling African indigenous management: Multiple influences on the success of SMEs in Kenya. Journal of World Business, 43(4), 400–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Karsten, L., & Illa, H. (2005). Ubuntu as a key African management concept: Contextual background and practical insights for knowledge application. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 20(7), 607–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Law, K. S., Wong, C.-S., Wang, D., & Wang, L. (2000). Effect of supervisor-subordinate guanxi on supervisory decisions in China: An empirical investigation. Human Resource Management, 11(4), 751–765.Google Scholar
  25. Ledeneva, A. V. (1998). Russia’s economy of favours: Blat, networking and informal exchange. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Ledeneva, A. (2009). From Russia with blat: Can informal networks help modernize Russia? Social Research, 76(1), 257–288.Google Scholar
  27. Leung, K. (2012). Indigenous Chinese management research: Like It or not, we need it. Management and Organization Review, 8(1), 1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Li, L. T., & Tsui, A. S. (2002) A citation analysis of management and organization research in the Chinese context: 1984 to 1999. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 19(1), 87–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lovett, S., Simmons, L. C., & Kali, R. (1999). Guanxi versus the market: Ethics and efficiency. Journal of International Business Studies, 30(2), 231–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Luo, Y. (1997). Guanxi and performance of foreign-invested enterprises in China: An empirical inquiry. Management International Review, 37(1), 51–70.Google Scholar
  31. Luo, Y., Huang, Y., & Wand, S. L. (2012). Guanxi and organizational performance: A meta-analysis. Management and Organization Review, 8(1), 139–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mangaliso, M. P. (2001). Building competitive advantage from ubuntu: Management lessons from South Africa. Academy of Management Executive, 15(3), 23–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Marsden, D. (1991). Indigenous Management. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 2(1), 21–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mbigi, L., & Maree, J. (1995). Ubuntu. The spirit of African transformation management. Randburg: Knowledge Resources.Google Scholar
  35. Meyer, K. (2006). Asian management research needs more self-confidence. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 24(4), 527–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Michailova, S., & Worm, V. (2003). Personal networking in Russia and China: Blat and guanxi. European Management Journal, 21(4), 509–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nkomo, S. T. (2011). A postcolonial and anti-colonial reading of ‘African’ leadership and management in organization studies: Tensions, contradictions and possibilities. Organization, 18(3), 365–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pan, Y., Rowney, J. A., & Peterson, M. F. (2012). The structure of Chinese cultural traditions: An empirical study of business employees in China. Management and Organization Review, 8(1), 77–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Panda, A., & Gupta, R. (2007). Call for developing indigenous organizational theories in India: Setting agenda for future. International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, 1(1/2), 205–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Park, S. H., & Luo, Y. (2001). Guanxi and organizational dynamics: Organizational networking in Chinese firms. Strategic Management Journal, 22(5), 455–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pink, S. (2007). Doing visual ethnography (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  42. Prahalad, C. K. (2004). The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid: Eradicating poverty through profits. Philadelphia: Wharton School Publishing.Google Scholar
  43. Puffer, S. M., McCarthy, D. J., & Boisot, M. (2010). Entrepreneurship in Russia and China: The impact of formal institutional voids. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 34(3), 441–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Radjou, N., Prabhu, J., & Ahuja, S. (2012). Jugaad innovation: Think frugal, be flexible, generate breakthrough growth. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  45. Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 25, 1–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Singh, D. P., & Sharma, M. K. (2009). Unfolding the Indian cultural mosaic: A cross-cultural study of four regional cultures. International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, 2(3), 247–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Smith, L. T. (2012). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples (2nd ed.). London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  48. Stanczak, G. C. (2007). Visual research methods: Image, society, and representation. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  49. Su, C., Sirgy, M. J., & Littlefield, J. E. (2003). Is guanxi orientation bad, ethically speaking? A study of Chinese enterprises. Journal of Business Ethics, 44(4), 303–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Thomas, A., & Bendixen, M. (2000). The management implications of ethnicity in South Africa. Journal of International Business Studies, 31(3), 507–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tiwari, R., & Herstatt, C. (2012). Assessing India’s lead market potential for cost-effective innovations. Journal of Indian Business Research, 4(2), 97–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tsang, W. K. (1998). Can guanxi be a source of sustained competitive advantage for doing business in China? Academy of Management Executive, 12(2), 64–73.Google Scholar
  53. Tsui, A. S. (2004). Contributing to global management knowledge: A case for high quality indigenous research. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 21(4), 491–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Tutu, D. (1999). No future without forgiveness. New York: Image.Google Scholar
  55. UNCTAD (2012). World investment report. Geneva: United Nations.Google Scholar
  56. Xu, S., & Yang, R. (2009). Indigenous characteristics of Chinese corporate social responsibility conceptual paradigm. Journal of Business Ethics, 93(2), 321–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Welge, M. K., & Holtbrügge, D. (1999). International management under postmodern conditions. Management International Review, 39(4), 305–322.Google Scholar
  58. Wilson, D., & Purushothaman, R. (2003). Dreaming with BRICs: The path to 2050. Goldman Sachs Global Economics Papers, No. 99. Accessed 10 Sept 2012.
  59. Zheng, C., & Lamond, D. (2009). A critical review of human resource management studies (1978–2007) in the People’s Republic of China. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 20(11), 2194–2227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International ManagementUniversity of Erlangen-NürnbergNürnbergGermany

Personalised recommendations