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Usha C. V. Haley

Thanks for speaking about our book!

At the risk of taking the suspense out of your reading, I can help you with some of this puzzle. The 2 stances are not irreconciliable.

In Confucius' time only the divine emperor had intellectual property (IP) rights -- indeed, the concept of individuals and companies having IP rights remains alien to Chinese culture today, as you point out. The first mention of protection of IP was made in Chinese legal codes in the early 20th century.

Also, to Confucius, moral duty did not extend beyond 5 relationships -- which do not include foreign companies.

As with everything in China, the answers are not simple, but hopefully comprehensible. If not, please let me know.


As Ikujiro Nonaka's research underlines on knowledge creation in Japanese companies, tacit knowledge is more important in Asia than in Europe. It could be another explanation why IP code is not so well recognized in China...what do you think ?

Usha C. V. Haley

I think you are right -- tacit knowledge (rather than explicit, professionally organized knowledge) underlies much management in China and other parts of Asia. Managers place more value on understanding context.

In China, IP inventions are patented/coyrighted on a "first-to-file" rather than "first to invent basis". Certain aspects of the business environment encourage this, as we point out in "The Chinese Tao of Business": these include cultural factors, but also strategic factors (such as profit margins) and legal factors (such as copyright laws which do not recognize software.)


Dear Usha,

Thank you for your answer. I imagine that doing business in China must be not very easy...but when it comes to offer products to a market which size is potential 100 million of people, I think companies are making some efforts :-)
I can tell you, I am doing my PhD with one of them.

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