A theory of strategy-learning from China from walking to sailing

Paul Shrivastava, Sybille Persson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The field of Strategic Management has matured in the West over the past 50 years but there is still no widely accepted, coherent and pragmatic theory of strategy. As the world struggles to achieve ecological, social and economic sustainability, "strategy", as a concept and as a practice, is becoming even more vital for our collective success. In this paper, we address the gap surrounding sustainable strategies, by drawing from traditional Chinese thought on strategy. Using the work of the French sinologist philosopher, Francois Jullien, we distill Chinese notions of strategy. We use empirical examples from China related to sustainability-its Daoist and Confucian value traditions, its population control strategy, and its economic growth strategy-to illustrate the indigenous Chinese notion of strategy. We end the paper by proposing a new "wateristic" conception of strategy that emphasizes action, flexibility and change, and embraces contradictions. We use the metaphor of sailing to understand strategy as doing nothing while leaving nothing undone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-61
Number of pages24
JournalManagement (France)
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management


Dive into the research topics of 'A theory of strategy-learning from China from walking to sailing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this