The Influence of Confucianism and Buddhism on Chinese Business: the Case of Aveiro, Portugal
Gillian Owen Moreira
University of Aveiro, Portugal
This paper addresses the influence of Confucianism and Buddhism on Chinese business against the background of China´s economic integration into the world. Considering the relationship between Confucianism, Buddhism and business from an intercultural perspective in the context of economic and cultural globalization, we present some modern Chinese business people, including some overseas Chinese, who behave in accordance with Confucianism, pray to Bodhisattva for safety and wealth, and donate to the temple. Reasons for these phenomena are analyzed and the role of harmony emphasized by Confucianism and Buddhism is taken into account. On the one hand, we find that silence, connections (guanxi, 关系), tolerance and harmony are emphasized in the Chinese business community; on the other hand, the relationship between religions, overseas Chinese merchants and their business culture is explored. Concrete data is taken from our survey in 59 international companies in China, carried out in 2007. The influence of Confucianism and Buddhism on business is analyzed through my practical experience in the Chinese community in Portugal. Keywords: Confucianism; Buddhism; intercultural communication; harmony; Chinese immigrants; connections (guanxi, 关系); tolerance; cooperative principles; politeness [pic]
Buddhism and Confucianism have had an impact on China for about two thousand years. In fact, Chinese culture is rooted in these two philosophies and their impact on Chinese life and economics is deep. According to Marx (2001:95), the country’s philosophical traditions are a part of its being, while Gernet (1995) recognizes the contributions of Buddhism to Chinese culture, particularly its influence on many aspects of Chinese life, thought, literature, language, art and science (1995:471). Ambler (2003) finds that "Confucianism has been guiding people´s behavior since Han Dynasty" (206BC-220AD) (Ambler 2003). So Confucianism and Buddhism have affected and continue to affect the way Chinese people think and operate. Unfortunately, the two philosophies were suppressed in the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), but in recent years, Buddhism and Confucianism have been booming in China. In 2005, a nationwide survey about Chinese people´s religion and beliefs was carried out by Liu Zhongyu from the Research Center for Religion and Culture, East China Normal University. In this research, 5000 questionnaires were sent to people over the age of 16, about 91.2% of whom responded. The findings demonstrated that about 300 million people have different religious beliefs (Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Christianity and Muslim, etc, Buddhism being the dominant part); indeed, 62% of the respondents aged between 16 and 39 claimed to have such beliefs Generally speaking, compared with two decades ago, people with faith are becoming younger and younger. The main reason given for religious belief is to meet spiritual needs, and Prof. Liu´s survey reveals that Chinese people have begun to emphasize spiritual life with the rise of living standards and the rapid lifestyle. Nowadays, in different areas of public life, from government to business, religion is being promoted. For example, in a recent speech, President Hu Jintao suggested that religion, including Buddhism, can help ease tensions between the haves and the have-nots (Dexter 2008:51). In addition, there seems to be a growing trend towards worshipping Buddha and Confucius among Chinese business people, especially Chinese merchants, also known as Confucian merchants. The contrary trend appears with temple monks trying to connect Buddhism with business. For example, Shi Yongxin, the Abbot of Shaolin Temple (the origin of Chinese Buddhism) is called a CEO because he is the first person who has made the connection between traditional...
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