SOAS University of London

School of Finance and Management

Management in China: domestic and international developments

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Full Year

This course is specially designed for undergraduate study of contemporary international business and management developments in China. The course is designed to provide the student with the necessary theoretical background to enable an in-depth understanding of the opening up of China’s economy and how this affects the international business environment. It is designed to give students an overview of various aspects of Chinese economic development, as well as the challenges that it faces from a managerial science perspective.

As this course is multidisciplinary in content, students will study a wide range of relevant topics from such disciplines as economics, international trade and business management, negotiation and conflict management. A previous knowledge of these disciplines is not necessary for the study of this course. Other topics covered include the economic, historical, geographical and political background of the Chinese economy, the pre-reform economy, China's market transition and its implications for the development of a professional management class, price liberalisation and ownership reforms, labour markets, and the public and private sectors. Case studies of China's business and economic policies and institutions will give students a practical understanding of management issues in China and also offer insight into fundamental challenges facing future developments.

Upon successful completion of this course students will have acquired a firm understanding of the key elements of China’s economy from an international management perspective. In order to achieve this, a strong emphasis is placed on the relationship between theoretical managerial concepts and how they relate to real world business issues.

Module sign-up information for non-departmental open option students
  • Required approval: Approval is required from the Law and Social Sciences Faculty Office
  • Required pre-requisite module(s): None
  • Year of study: 2
  • Maximum number of non-departmental students permitted per year: 10
  • Weekly timetable: One lecture (2 hours) and one tutorial (1 hour)

Further information on open option modules can be found here

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of this course students should be able to:

  • Understand the economic and political consequences of the pre-reform leap forward strategy, analyse its main implications, and discuss its influences on economic reform;
  • Evaluate the coherence of China’s economic reform in the light of institutional constraints and critically analyse the major sources of economic growth;
  • Examine the current managerial mechanisms from the major theoretical perspectives, evaluate the disciplining effects of the management reforms and outline the major trade-offs facing future reforms;
  • Discuss the reform of the state sector, assess its implications from the agency and resource dependence theoretical perspectives, and critically evaluate the future role of the state industry in China’s economy;
  • Understand how insider privatisation works in China, distinguish between the main forms of private ownership in the Chinese economy and discuss their contribution to economic growth;
  • Analyse the business practices of China’s leading non-state firms and understand why connections to the state are still important;
  • Outline the economic and political consequences and the key features of China’s rapid economic growth, and discuss their implications for the regional and global economies;
  • Discuss the changes that have taken place in China’s trade policy, particularly since the 1990s, and evaluate the importance of such trade reforms as the WTO;
  • Evaluate the pace, scale and form of recent Foreign Direct Investment trends in China and the specific features of China’s development that underpin its attractiveness for foreign investments;
  • Distinguish between the different concepts of Greater China, evaluate the implications of a Greater China for both for the region and global trade and, in particular, explain why political controls on trade in the region have proved illusionary;
  • Discuss the importance of business networks and relational capital, and their role in facilitating network linkages between Taiwan and Mainland China;
  • Identify the main attributes underpinning successful partner selection and evaluate how their presence/absence might affect the performance of a joint venture, with particular reference to the investment strategies of multi-nationals;
  • Explain the influence of traditional and contemporary culture in Chinese negotiations and how it influences the Chinese negotiation style;
  • Evaluate the trade offs between strategic and operational control, the potential for organisational/environmental conflicts and discuss how these conflicts can be resolved in a constructive manner.

Method of assessment

This course is assessed by two essays worth 15% each and 70% by one three hour examination

Suggested reading

Indicative Readings:

  • Smil, Valclav (2004) China’s Past, China’s Future: Energy, Food and Environment
  • Kambara, T., and C. Howe (2006) China and the Global Energy Crisis
  • Tobin, D (2008) From Maoist self-reliance to international oil consumer: a resource-based appraisal of the challenges facing China’s petrochemical sector, Journal of Chinese Economics and Business Studies
  • Peng, Y (2007), The Chinese Banking Industry: lessons from History for Today’s Challenges, Routledge
  • Lin, J., F. Cai, and Z. Li (2003), The China Miracle: Development Strategy and Economics,Hong Kong: Chinese University Press
  • Lavine, Marie (1999) The Economics of Transition: From Socialist Economy to Market Economy, St. Martin Press: New York
  • Chow, Gregory (2007), China’s Economic Transformation, Blackwell Publishing
  • Solinger, Dorothy (1993) China’s Transition from Socialism (Chapter 2)
  • North, D. (1990) Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Yingyi Qian (2001) ‘How Reform Worked in China’, reprinted in the Course Reader from D. Rodrik (ed.) In Search of Prosperity: Analytic Narratives on Economic Growth
  • Nolan, Peter (2001), China and the Global Business Revolution, Palgrave: Basingstoke
  • Nolan, P. and X. Wang, 1999. “Beyond Privatisation: Institutional Innovation and Growth in China’s Large State-Owned Enterprises,” World Development, Vol. 27(1), pp. 169-200
  • Lardy, N (1998), China’s Unfinished Economic Revolution, Brookings
  • Tsai, K.S. (2007) Capitalism without Democracy: The Private Sector in Contemporary China, Cornell University Press, OECD Economic Survey China, September 2005
  • Case Study: Haier: How to turn a Chinese household name into a global brand (2007, Asia Case Research Centre
  • Hill, Charles (2007) International Business: Competing in the Global Market Place (parts 2 and 3), McGraw Hill
  • Goodstadt, Leo F. (2007), Profits Politics and Panics: Hong Kong’s Banks and the Making of a Miracle Economy, 1935-1983, Chapter Four: Financial Centre under Siege, Hong Kong University Press
  • Naughton, Barry (2007), The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth, Cambridge: MIT
  • Huang, Yasheng (2003). Selling China: Foregin Direct Investment during the Reform Era. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Xiao, Geng (2004). “Round-Tripping Foreign Direct Investment in the Peoples Republic of China: Scale, Causes and Implications”, Asian Development Bank Institute Discussion Paper No. 7
  • Hill, Charles (2007) International Business: Competing in the Global Market Place (part 5), McGraw Hill
  • Yan, Daniel and Malcolm Warner (2002). “Foreign Investors’ Choices in China: Going it alone or in Partnership?” Human Systems Management, Vol. 21, pp. 137-150
  • Porter, M., (2008) ‘The five competitive forces that shape strategy’, Harvard Business Review, January
  • Fung, Victor (2008) Competing in a Flat World, Wharton School Publishing, 2007
  • Beamish Paul and Hari Bapuji (2008) ‘Toy Recalls and China: Emotion vs. Evidence’, Management and Organisation Review, Volume 4 (2), pages 197-210
  • Hsing, You-Tien (1998), Making Capitalism in China: The Taiwan Connection, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Yung Wing Sung (2005), The Emergence of Greater China, Basingstoke: Palgrave
  • Cavey, Paul (2003), Leaping Dragons, Trailing Tigers: Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Challenge of Mainland China, EIU White Paper
  • Chen, Homin and Tain-Jy Chen (1998), “Network Linkages and Location Choice in Foreign Direct Investment”, Journal of International Business Studies, vol. 29, no. 3 (3rd Quarter), pp. 445-67
  • Chen, Tain-Jy, Homin Chen and Ying-Hua Ku (2004). “Foreign Direct Investment and Local Linkages”, Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 35, pages 320-333
  • Hsing, You-tien (1998), “Networked Investors from Taiwan” in Making Capitalism in China: The Taiwan Connection. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Tan, Justin, (2005). “Growth of Industry Clusters and Innovation: Lessons from Beijing Zhongguancun Science Park”, Journal of Business Venturing, in press, corrected proof, available online 21 November 2005
  • Yan, Daniel and Malcolm Warner (2002). “Foreign Investors’ Choices in China: Going it alone or in Partnership?” Human Systems Management, Vol. 21, pp. 137-150
  • Sun, P., K. Mellahi and E. Thun (2008), Political Embeddedness and Market Leadership: The Case of the Chinese Automobile Industry (1984-2005)
  • Luo, Yadong (2002). Partnering with Chinese Firms: Lessons for International Managers. Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate.Mok, V., X. Dai, and G. Yeung (2002). “An Internationalisation Approach to Joint Ventures: Coca Cola in China”, Asia pacific Business Review, Vol. 9, no. 1 (Autumn), pp. 39-58
  • Tian, Xiaowen (2007), Managing International Business in China, Cambridge
  • Tjosvold, Dean, Chun Hui, and Kenneth S. Law (2001). “Constructive Conflict in China: Cooperative Conflict as a Bridge between East and West”, Journal of World Business, Vol. 36, no. 2 (Summer), pp. 166-183
  • Yan, Aimin and Jason Duan (2003). “Inter-Partner Fit and its Performance Implications: A Four Case Study of US-China Joint Ventures”, Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Vol. 19, pp. 127-151


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules