Moral atmosphere and moral influence under China's network capitalism

Robin Stanley SNELL, Choo Sin TSENG

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

45 Citations (Scopus)


A weak legal system, weak civic accountability, market distortions, public cynicism, and workforces lacking moral self-efficacy, present challenges to moral integrity in Chinese mainland enterprises. Our predominantly qualitative study, in Wuhan, of organizational moral atmosphere (OMA) in two large state-owned enterprises (SOEs), two smaller, shareholder invested SOEs, two foreign-invested joint venture companies (JVCs) and one private company, indicated that felt distributive inequity may have compounded these problems. Government-championed, in-company ideological propagation of avowed business morality appeared to have little impact on OMA, owing to normative incoherence. The JVCs, by adopting the foreign partners' system of rational-legal administration and internal justice, appeared to have found a relatively more effective approach to formal moral governance. Non-JVCs had a more punishment-oriented yet less rigorous approach to regulation, which was commended only at the private company, where personal share ownership gave middle and senior managers incentives,to enforce discipline and thus minimize losses. Developmental and dialogue-based approaches to improving OMA were largely untried.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-478
Number of pages30
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002


  • China
  • Communist
  • Ethics
  • Ideology
  • Leadership
  • Morality


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