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Prof. JING Runtian and Collaborators Publish a Paper in Management World 2023-10-28

In the latest issue of "Management World," a leading domestic journal in the field of management, Professor Jing Run-Tian from our institute has successfully published an academic paper, alongside his students Cheng Sheng-Qiang and Wang Wen-Jing. The paper, entitled "Exploring the Theoretical Wisdom of 'Riding the Wind': A Mixed-Method Study Based on Case Interpretation and Scenario Experiments," delves into a comprehensive analysis of a well-known maxim and its implications in the business world.



The inception of any case study, as well as this paper, stems from the perplexities surrounding theoretical or practical issues. To vividly illustrate the significance of capitalizing on trends in the internet era, Lei Jun coined the famous saying, "Even pigs can fly if they stand at the whirlwind." This maxim has gained widespread application in the corporate sector, though it is not without its ambiguities. Lei Jun himself clarified in his book "Reflections on Xiaomi’s Start-up Journey," stating, "Many have used this phrase to depict Xiaomi’s rise or mock its low points. This might be the biggest misunderstanding about me, Xiaomi, and the entrepreneurial community over the past decade: it seems as if the phrase only emphasizes the whirlwind, encouraging a speculative mentality. In fact, the reality is quite the opposite." From a theoretical research perspective, scholars like Professor Danny Miller have incorporated the concept of potential energy from physics into organizational management scenarios based on configurational thinking, arguing that most organizations are in a state of constant change, and organizational potential is the trend that keeps an organization developing in a certain direction. However, dissatisfaction arose in later research with this overly structuralist-oriented conceptualization of organizational potential, with a call for reflecting the proactivity of managers in its theorization. To more clearly elucidate the theoretical relationship between managerial proactivity and organizational potential, the authors embarked on this study, aiming to unveil: What exactly is the theoretical essence of the "whirlwind"? What kind of managers are more likely to seize the "whirlwind"?


Adopting a mixed-method research design, the paper first conducts a case study on Xiaomi Corporation. The analysis indicates that emphasizing trends does not equate to passive waiting. As reflected in the Chinese philosophical concept of "Wu Wei," believing in and relying on the power of trends does not mean managers should remain idle; rather, they should actively and consciously plan ahead, minimizing blind investments that do not meet the needs of the situation. "The wise create opportunities, the mediocre follow profits," setting high standards for managers. Building upon this foundation, the paper refines the propositions derived from the case study into testable theoretical hypotheses and conducts empirical tests using scenario experiments. The research conclusions validate the theoretical model developed from the case study, and further discover that managers with higher strategic cognitive capabilities (manifested as analytical thinking and need for structure) are more likely to perceive and seize the organizational potential inherent in the industrial environment. The theoretical contribution of this paper lies in inspiring researchers to recognize the proactive role of managers in situation control from the perspective of indirect effectiveness, revealing the intellectual wisdom embedded in Chinese culture in advancing research on organizational potential. Moreover, the research establishes a theoretical bridge between two previously unrelated fields: organizational theory and psychology.


The research conclusions also aid enterprises in better understanding the "Riding the Wind" rule and the "Flow with the Trend" strategy. In line with Lei Jun's reflections on Xiaomi’s entrepreneurial journey, this study refutes the overly fatalistic and passive criticisms of the "Riding the Wind" rule in the practical field. The ability of enterprises to transform industrial trends into growth opportunities highly depends on the subjective initiative of managers. Many Chinese enterprises are actively exploring management experiences in this regard. Huawei's management philosophy of "Upper Levels Create Opportunities, Lower Levels Implement" may seem abstract, but from the insights of this study, the substantive activities of top managers in "creating opportunities" are manifested in two aspects: maintaining sensitivity to the environment and planning ahead. Managers strive to avoid ineffective actions during the implementation phase through early cognitive enhancement and situational planning, thereby achieving a harmonious match between managerial actions and environmental forces. Our institute has also recently developed a simulation decision-making platform to help managers cultivate and enhance these skills.

The paper has been selected as a highlighted article in the current issue of "Management World" journal, and its earlier version won the "Li Zhan-Xiang Management Philosophy Excellent Paper Award" at the "3rd Enterprise Management Philosophy and Organizational Ecology Forum."


About the Authors


Jing Runtian is a Professor and Ph.D. supervisor at the Antai College of Economics and Management, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He is a distinguished professor under the Ministry of Education’s Changjiang Scholars Program and a recipient of the First China Management Studies Young Scholar Award. He currently serves as the President of the International Association for Chinese Management Research (IACMR). His long-term research focuses on organizational change and leadership behavior. He has received numerous academic honors and titles, including the "Chinese Theory in Management" Best Paper Award from IACMR, the "Excellent Case Teacher" from the Degree and Graduate Education Development Center of the Ministry of Education, and the National Baosteel Excellent Teacher Award. In recent years, he has published more than 80 papers in authoritative journals at home and abroad, including the "Academy of Management Journal" and "Management World."


Cheng Shengqiang is a Ph.D. student at the Antai College of Economics and Management, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.


Wang Wenjing is a master's student at the Antai College of Economics and Management, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.