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The Inclusiveness and Emptiness of Gong Qi: A Non-Anglophone Perspective on Ethics from a Sino-Japanese Corporation

Author

Listed:
  • Wenjin Dai

    (The Open University Business School)

  • Jonathan Gosling

    (University of Exeter Business School)

  • Annie Pye

    (Cardiff University)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Wenjin Dai & Jonathan Gosling & Annie Pye, 2020. "The Inclusiveness and Emptiness of Gong Qi: A Non-Anglophone Perspective on Ethics from a Sino-Japanese Corporation," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 165(2), pages 277-293, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:165:y:2020:i:2:d:10.1007_s10551-019-04308-3
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-019-04308-3
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    References listed on IDEAS

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