Management thought and practice in 1920s China


*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This article significantly revises our understanding of ‘scientific management’ in 1920s China. First introduced in 1911 via transpacific networks, scientific management gained traction among Chinese elites of the 1920s as a method of both national industrialisation and social change in line with the May Fourth spirit of ‘Mr. Science’ and ‘Mr. Democracy’. As such, Chinese discourse re-interpreted Taylorism as a capacious but progressive tool to encourage the ‘scientific spirit’ among ordinary Chinese. Industrialists around greater Shanghai engaged with these re-interpretations and more of their firms experimented with these ideas than previously thought. Yet, they did so in diverse ways that reflected managers’ layered commercial, political, and intellectual motivations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusinesss History
Early online date21 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

I would like to thank Ghassan Moazzin, Kang Jin-A, and John Wong for my inclusion in this special issue, and Brett Sheehan, Dan Wadhwani, and the two reviewers for their thoughtful comments on previous drafts.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Chinese industry
  • Republican China
  • Sino-American relations
  • business history
  • history of capitalism
  • history of science
  • intellectual history
  • labour history
  • management history
  • transpacific educational circulations
  • transpacific networks
  • ‘Scientific’ management


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