Articles

Globalization of business, education and China: interview with prof. Chiwen Jevons Lee

Interview of Ewelina Horoszkiewicz with prof. Chiwen Jevons Lee on China on Globalization of business, education and China.

Instytut Boyma 16.01.2020

Ewelina Horoszkiewicz: Hello, Professor Lee. I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet with me.

Chi-Wen Jevons Lee: The pleasure is all mine, I always admire individuals with the will to learn.

EH: Today, I would like to discuss your contribution to the globalization of Chinese business education and your thoughts of China’s role in the global marketplace. But before we begin, I’d like to get to know your story a little bit better. Who is Chi-Wen Lee, where did he come from?

CWJL: My full name is Chi-Wen Jevons Lee. I was born during the second world war, in China. I didn’t stay there long. My father was part of the Nationalist army that retreated to Taiwan. I spent most of my childhood there with my parents and six siblings.

EH: That was a very large family. What was it like growing up in Taiwan? Did you feel welcomed by Taiwan or did you still feel attached to China?

CWJL: The Mainland Chinese were rejected by the Taiwanese Chinese even though we were from the same heritage. Taiwan was previously occupied by the Japanese. The Japanese had a very close relationship with Taiwan. When the mainlanders came over, we didn’t come in waves, we came as a tsunami. The millions that flooded Taiwan also brought extreme poverty as the tiny island resources struggled to support the refugees. I remember waking up in the middle of the night with aching hunger pains, but this wasn’t just my experience, it was a very poor generation for Taiwan.

EH: There’s a Chinese saying about success being found in the darkest of places. How did this experience shape your life decisions?

CWJL: With such a large population spread over such distance, the Imperial Chinese system of authority used the National Exam as the key to a better life. This traditional mindset carried on to Taiwan. I wasn’t the best student, but I knew that this wasn’t the life I wanted to live. I knew that I had to get into the best universities to get a chance at a better life. I competed with the local Taiwanese and Mainland Refugees for a seat in the National Taiwan University, Economics Department.

EH: And after you secured that position, you were one of the first generations of students with opportunities abroad.

CWJL: It was truly a matter of being in the right place at the right time. The global trends indicated that China would be a leading economic and political power. With a country of this size, China was destined for a position of power on the global stage. But the Cultural Revolution closed off for many years. This meant that if people wanted to invest in the future of China, Taiwan was one of the best options. I remember that almost everyone in my graduating class was swept up by the West. It was a big talent loss for China. The moment the top performing minds of Taiwan graduated, they migrated abroad. But looking back now, this helped the development of China indirectly. Most of the members of my class and the following alumnus ended up taking the resources and knowledges that they gained abroad back to help build China into the country it is today.

EH: This sounds like a big break, a brave new world out there. What did you notice upon moving to the new environment?

CWJL: The biggest challenge was language. Not just language, but the cultural way we use language. Language, itself is not difficult, it’s just a database, but succeeding in a foreign environment means that you must carve out a place for yourself. A cultural grasp of the language and an outgoing personality will take you far. Intelligence will only take you so far. The valedictorian and salutatorian all failed out of their programs in the US. My grades weren’t the best, not bad, but definitely with room for improvement. But I achieved a significant amount of success despite my unremarkable academics. I also noticed a difference in attitude. For many of my American peers, their career achievements felt like an option, something that would be nice to have. But for me and my Taiwanese classmates, there were no other options. We were left afloat in these unfamiliar lands, we had to thrive. It was a long swim back home.

EH: I looked over your long list of accomplishments. I am curious, after all your efforts to make it in America, what brought you back to Asia?

CWJL: Good luck and good fortune. Opportunity came knocking and I couldn’t say no. Hong Kong had planned the first international university built by the Chinese for the Chinese. This was a project with great ambitions rivaling the global education establishments. They needed a world class staff for the world class institution. I had made a name for myself amongst the scholars abroad and when I was offered the position, I took it and never looked back. This was a great opportunity for self-development, this was my chance to build an institution from the ground up. Within four years, HKUST was ranked internationally and my accounting department was ranked first!

EH: That was quite the achievement! It must have opened many doors for you.

CWJL: It was a miracle of a miracle. I had the pleasure of meeting many brilliant and talented people during my time at HKUST. We had a few Nobel Prize winning visiting professors. These connections prominently positioned me in the world of academia. When I returned to Tulane University, I began receiving offers all across China. We broke ground on the Tulane – Fudan University collaboration where we brought the best and the brightest minds of China to the US. China had a complex relationship with the rest of the world, especially America. While the Chinese populace was fascinated with the luxuries and options of the west, the political stance was one of icy wariness. But China was a burgeoning country, it couldn’t contain it’s appetite for knowledge and growth. Fudan University in Shanghai was the beginning of a trend that would sweep over the world.

EH: Can you tell me more about this trend that you noticed? How did it manifest itself in China?

CWJL: The trend that I noticed was the globalization of business education. With static, domestic markets, business was heavily influenced by the systems in place, who you knew, the resources you had access to was the game changer. The well-established business schools in America helped cultivate the network for these resources. But as the pace of change and dynamic-ism of the business world increased, business became less straightforward. We are in a globalized market in search of localized solutions. Business education is a function of market need. As the global marketplace has globalized, the business education classroom has also globalized. This was the introduction of the case study to the business classroom. As the business world became more dynamic, the best solution wasn’t always the most worn path. In the chaos of the business world, the need for localized insight opened doors for all participants. Business is a world where brilliant minds clash to find a better answer for the eternal problem, how to create more value. These weren’t solutions that you could find in a textbook, this is the wisdom that had to be gained through the experience of success and failures. And as Asia and the rest of the world entered the global marketplaces, we see it reflected in the business classrooms. More and more diversified classes bringing unique insights and solutions to the every growing world around us.

EH: I find it interesting how the business classroom is a reflection of market demands. In recent years, China has taken a substantial role globally, politically, socially, but the most notable change has been economic. What are your insights into the larger Chinese business environment and what the rest of the world can learn from China.

CWJL: While China has experienced tremendous growth in the past few decades, this is more a function of playing catch up. China was able to draw upon the lessons and experiences of the countries that had developed before it. When China opened its doors and foreign investments flowed in, China bloomed. But China is still not yet ready to teach other countries how to do business. The Chinese Imperial Rule has been ingrained into the culture for the past three to four thousand years. The traditional emphasis on standardized testing is as disconnected as it is prevalent in modern day China. In my experience, the highest academic achievers were rarely the best business people. As a manager, your ability to work through complex mental problems is not as important as your ability to influence people. That’s what business is, the ability to create value in a way that influences other people’s behavior. I began China’s transformation in creating the first EMBA and MBA program at Fudan, Tsinghua, Zhejiang, Xiamen University that selected individuals not based on test scores, but on the holistic person. Now, it’s up to the future of China to realize what it means to be a Chinese Business Person.

EH: I really appreciated the insight you shared into what business means and how the globalization of the world with a Chinese focus might mean for the future of business education. Thank you for your time, Professor Lee, it was a pleasure.

CWJL: The pleasure was all mine. I look forward to reading about myself.

Ewelina Horoszkiewicz

Graduate of management and sinology at University of Warsaw. Member of Polish-Chinese Friendship Association, holder of HSK4 cerificate. Her main interests are Chinese studies, in her professional life, she combines the skills of analysis, market research, project coordination and cooperation related to China. In Boym Institute she is coordinating cooperation with other institutions and new projects.

read more

“Green growth” may well be more of the same

Witnessing the recent flurry of political activity amid the accelerating environmental emergency, from the Green New Deal to the UN climate summits to European political initiatives, one could be forgiven for thinking that things are finally moving forward.

Paweł Behrendt for 9DASHLINE: The South China Sea – from colonialism to the Cold War

We would like to inform, that 9DASHLINE has published article of Paweł Behrendt - the Boym Institute Analyst, in which he wrote about history of the South China Sea dispute over the 20th century.

To free oneself from the Chinese embrace. On Indo-Russian relations with Nandan Unnikrishnan

Interview with Nandan Unnikrishnan, who has served for many years as a correspondent for Indian media in Russia. Currently he is a research fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in Delhi. The interview was conducted during the Raisina Dialogue 2019 in Delhi.

China – USA in the South China Sea

The trade war is just one of the problems of confrontation between the United States and the People's Republic of China. Many aspects of this competition coincide in the South China Sea.

Book review: “Europe – North Korea. Between Humanitarianism And Business?”

Book review of "Europe – North Korea. Between Humanitarianism And Business?", written by Myung-Kyu Park, Bernhard Seliger, Sung-Jo Park (Eds.) and published by Lit Verlag in 2010.

Book review: “Unveiling the North Korean economy”

Book review of "Unveiling the North Korean economy", written by Kim Byung-yeon and published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.B. Tauris in 2017.

Patrycja Pendrakowska for Balkan Development Support: “Western European countries have benefited most from the Chinese capital, the benefits are mutual”

We would like to inform, that Financial Intelligence has published interview for Balkan Development Support with Patrycja Pendrakowska.

What connects shamans and generals? On the problem of verification of internal conflicts of North Korea

The number of confirmed executions and frequent disappearances of politicians remind us that in North Korea the rules of social Darwinism apply. Any attempt to limit Kim Jong-un's power may be considered hostile and ruthless.

Coronavirus outbreak in Poland – General information and recommendations for entrepreneurs

Kochański & Partners and the Boym Institute engaged in delivering information about latest after-effects of COVID-19 pandemia, which has begun to spread in Poland during the past days.

Workshop – Liberalism vs authoritarianism: political ideas in Singapore and China

We cordially invite you to a workshop session “Liberalism vs authoritarianism: political ideas in Singapore and China”. The workshop is organized by Patrycja Pendrakowska and Maria Kądzielska at the Department of Philosophy, University of Warsaw on ZOOM.

Roman Catholic cemetery in Harbin (1903-1958)

First burials of Catholics, mostly Poles but also other Non-Orthodox believers took place in future Harbin in the so called small „old” or later Pokrovskoe Orthodox cemetery in the future European New Town quarter and small graveyards at the military and civilian hospitals of Chinese Eastern Railway at the turn of XIX and XX century.

Development strategies for Ulaanbaatar according to the conception for the city’s 2040 General Development Plan- part 1

In the first part of this analysis of Ulaanbaatar’s winning 2040 General Development Plan Conception (GDPC) I look into the historical preconditions for the city’s planned development as well as present the legislative climate in which works on Ulaanbaatar’s future development strategies have recently found themselves.

Book review: “North Korean Defectors in a New and Competitive Society”

Book review of "North Korean Defectors in a New and Competitive Society", written by Lee Ahlam and published by Rowman&Littlefield in 2016.

Book review: “North Korea’s Cities”

Book review of "North Korea’s Cities", written by Rainer Dormels and published byJimoondang Publishing Company in 2014.

Krzysztof Zalewski for Observer Research Foundation – “Luxembourg faces the same dilemma as the EU: become a bridge or a fortress”

We would like to inform, that Observer Research Foundation has published article of Krzysztof Zalewski - the Boym Institute Analyst, Chairman of the Board and Editor of the “Tydzień w Azji” weekly.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and emerging contractual claims

With China one of the key players in the global supply chain, supplying major manufacturing companies with commodities, components and final products, the recent emerging outbreak of Coronavirus provides for a number of organizational as well as legal challenges.

Book review: “GDR International Development Policy Involvement. Doctrine and Strategies between Illusions and Reality 1960-1990, The example (South) Africa”

Book review of "GDR International Development Policy Involvement. Doctrine and Strategies between Illusions and Reality 1960-1990, The example (South) Africa", written by Ulrich van der Heyden and published by Lit Verlag in 2013.

Guidance for Workplaces on Preparing for Coronavirus Spread

Due to the spread of coronavirus, the following workplace recommendations have been issued by the Ministry of Development, in cooperation with the Chief Sanitary Inspector.

Chinese work on the military use of artificial intelligence

Intensive modernization and the desire to catch up with the armed forces of the United States made chinese interest in the military application of futuristic technologies grow bigger.

Patrycja Pendrakowska for Observer Research Foundation: “The Polish example: Defending the castle in the European East”

We would like to inform, that Observer Research Foundation has published article of Patrycja Pendrakowska - the Boym Institute Analyst and President of the Board.

Indonesia – between religion and democracy

Indonesia is the largest Muslim democracy in the world. Approximately 88% of the population in Indonesia declares Islamic religion, but in spite of this significant dominance, Indonesia is not a religious state.

Patrycja Pendrakowska for Observer Research Foundation: “Managing fear and easing lockdown in Poland”

We would like to inform, that Observer Research Foundation has published article of Patrycja Pendrakowska - the Boym Institute Analyst and President of the Board.

Are Polish Universities Really Victims of a Chinese Influence Campaign?

The Chinese Influence Campaign can allegedly play a dangerous role at certain Central European universities, as stated in the article ‘Countering China’s Influence Campaigns at European Universities’, (...) However, the text does ignore Poland, the country with the largest number of universities and students in the region. And we argue, the situation is much more complex.

The North Korean nuclear dismantlement and the management of its nuclear wastes

Evidence suggests that North Korea stores its high-level nuclear waste (HLW) in liquid form in tanks on the same site where it is made, and has not invested in infrastructure to reduce, dentrify, or vitrify this waste. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, one of many aspects of the North Korean nuclear waste problem.