A Contemporary Confucian business governance approach

In the context of Future of Work, I want to suggest that a Confucian-inspired governance framework within global technology-based organisations can facilitate effective self-regulation – and that this can facilitate the building of public trust, whilst still allowing for technological innovation. I include an account of how its introduction might be facilitated, a reflection on what might be good, bad or ugly about the approach; and suggestions for future research avenues.

A Contemporary Confucian business governance approach fig 1

Confucianism can be a secular journey towards a practical resolution of life’s issues in the real world. It doesn’t have a transcendent goal.

This blog references an Article Reprint, based on an academic essay made for the International Academy of Chinese Thought and Culture(IACTC) summer 2019 China study trip sponsored by Bath Spa University. My experiences and exposure to academic lectures in the PRC (People’s Republic of China) at Fu-dan University, Shanghai; Peking University, Beijing; and the Nishan Institute, QuFu; convinced me that modern Confucianism could be relevant in a technology-based Western society.

My intended audience is typified by the IT-savvy internal control manager of a large technology company facing the issue of adequate governance for the global introduction of a large scale social collaboration solution. I’ve added a partly-annotated Bibliography at the end, for people interested in taking this topic further.

My thesis is that self-regulation is necessary during periods of innovation, but that governance is still needed. Confucian ethical approaches (as exemplified, for instance, in Book II of the Analects, where the Master (Kongzi, or Confucius) said: “If the people be led by laws and uniformity sought to be given to them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment, but have no sense of shame. If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rites, they will have the sense of shame, and moreover become good”) have good applications in such situations.

Click here to read the full piece.

David Norfolk

My current main client is Bloor Research International, where I am Practice Leader with responsibility for Development and Governance. I am also Executive Editor (on a freelance basis) for Croner's IT Policy and Procedures (a part-work on IT policies). I am also on the committee of the BCS Configuration Management Specialist Group (BCS-CMSG). I became Associate Editor with The Register online magazine – a courtesy title as I write on a freelance basis – in 2005. Register Developer, a spin-off title, started at the end of 2005, and I was launch editor for this (with Martin Banks). I helped plan, document and photograph the CMMI Made Practical conference at the IoD, London in 2005 (http://ww.cmminews.com). I have also written many research reports including one on IT Governance for Thorogood. I was freelance Co-Editor (and part owner) of Application Development Advisor (a magazine, www.appdevadvisor.co.uk, now defunct) for several years. Before I became a journalist in 1992, I worked for Swiss Bank Corporation (SBC). At various times I was responsible for Systems Development Method for the London operation, the Technical Risk Management framework in Internal Control, and was Network Manager for Corporate group. I carried out a major risk evaluation for PC systems connecting across the Bank’s perimeter to external systems and prioritised major security issues for resolution by the Bank’s top management in London. I also formulated a Security Policy for London Branch and designed a secure NetWare network for the Personnel Dept. Before 1988 I was an Advisory Systems Engineer in Bank of America, Croydon in database administration (DBA). on COBOL-based IMS business systems. Before 1982, I worked in the Australian Public Service, first as a DBA in the Dept of Health (responsible for IMS mainframe systems) and latterly as a Senior Rserach Officer 2 in the Bureau of Transport Economics. Specialties: I have the ability to extract the essence of significant technical developments and present it for general consumption, at various levels, without compromising the underlying technical truth.

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