Leadership Development in China:How the companies develop their leaders and what critical factors contribute to enhancing the effectiveness of leadership development practices

Open Access
Qiao, Xuejun
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
May 12, 2006
Committee Members:
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • Albert Vicere, Committee Member
  • William J Rothwell, Committee Chair
  • Thomas E Chermack, Committee Member
  • succession planning
  • human resources development
  • Leadership development
The purpose of this study was to investigate how companies in China develop their leaders, and to identify the key factors that contribute to enhancing the effectiveness of leadership development practices in China. In terms of theoretical domain, this study tied actual data to a conceptual framework - the ¡°Leadership with Impact¡± model, and therefore provided concrete empirical evidence for this model. In the substantive domain, the findings of this study presented an overview of current leadership development practices in China. When compared with the best practices found throughout the world, it points to future directions for leadership development in China. This study adopted a multiple-case study design. Four companies¨C¨CABB, BenQ, Lenovo and Motorola¨C¨Cwere studied in China. The data collected included interviews, which served as primary data, and documents, as secondary data. The interview data were collected from the CEO (whenever possible), HR professionals, training professionals, line managers and high potentials using pre-developed interview guides. A total of 40 people participated in the interviews. Based upon study data, the researcher concluded that, first, the four companies in China developed their leaders in more or less the same way as their counterparts in the United States, but in a less structured and formalized fashion. The needs assessment phase and measuring the effectiveness of leadership development were the two components apparently left far behind. The researcher contended that this was due in part to the fact that few human resources development professionals in China have formal education background in the HRD field. Second, the Leadership Development with Impact model works well in the Chinese context. In addition to the five major factors identified in this model, additional factors were revealed in this study as key factors contributing to enhancing the effectiveness of leadership development practices, including top management support, corporate culture, communication, execution, etc. The findings of this study have a number of important implications for both researchers and practitioners in the leadership development field. As the companies under study each demonstrate their excellence in different aspects of the leadership development process, together their experiences reveal excellence in leadership development that will no doubt provide benchmarking examples for other companies in China.