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The inclusiveness and emptiness of Gong Qi: a non-Anglophone perspective on ethics from a Sino-Japanese corporation

Dai, Wenjin, Gosling, Jonathan and Pye, Annie ORCID: 2020. The inclusiveness and emptiness of Gong Qi: a non-Anglophone perspective on ethics from a Sino-Japanese corporation. Journal of Business Ethics 165 , pp. 277-293. 10.1007/s10551-019-04308-3

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This article introduces a non-Anglophone concept of gong qi (communal vessel, 公器) as a metaphor for ‘corporation’. It contributes an endogenous perspective from a Sino-Japanese organizational context that enriches mainstream business ethics literature, otherwise heavily reliant on Western traditions. We translate the multi-layered meanings of gong qi based on analysis of its ideograms, its references into classical philosophies, and contemporary application in this Japanese multinational corporation in China. Gong qi contributes a perspective that sees a corporation as an inclusive and virtuous social entity, and also addresses the elusive, implicit, and forever evolving nature of organizational life that is rarely noticed. We propose gong qi can be applied in other organizations and wider cultural contexts to show a new way of seeing and understanding business ethics and organization. Rather than considering virtue as a list of definable individual qualities, we suggest that the metaphor of gong qi reveals how virtue can be experienced as indeterminate, yet immanently present, like the substance of emptiness. This, then allows us to see the virtue of immanence, the beauty of implicitness, and hence, the efficacy of gong qi.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Publisher: Springer Verlag
ISSN: 0167-4544
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 October 2019
Date of Acceptance: 5 October 2019
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2022 07:58

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