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A study of core competences of effective managers of foreign-owned enterprises in Mainland China

English Abstract

This study aims to explore the core competences of effective managers in several selected wholly foreign-owned enterprises in China. Specifically, this study attempted to answer four main questions: 1) who the effective managers are and their backgrounds, 2) what they do, 3) what competences they demonstrate and 4) how they obtain their competences. To fulfill the objective stated above, in-depth, individual, face-to-face interviews involving 35 open-ended questions were conducted. The interviewees were identified by a personal contact, and additional recommendations were provided by the managers who attended the interviews. The collected data were then analyzed by the triangulation method. All of the interviewed managers are between 31 and 40 years old. They have been working for 7 to 16 years, including 5 to 16 years of working experience in foreign-owned enterprises. All of them had a bachelor’s degree or above and started to work in junior positions in their firms immediately after completing their university educations. After approximately 4 to 9 years of working experience in foreign-owned enterprises, most were promoted to managerial positions. The main responsibilities of the interviewed managers included planning, directing, organizing, leading, recruiting, communicating, delegating, motivating and iii controlling. Their main managerial functions matched both the basic managerial functions introduced by Fayol (1949) and the staffing functions introduced by Weihrich (1990). At the same time, the various roles introduced by Mintzberg (1973), which consisted of interpersonal roles (figurehead, leader, liaison), informational roles (monitor, disseminator, spokesperson) and decisional roles (entrepreneur, disturbance handlers, resource allocator and negotiator), were also performed by the managers in this study. With respect to the different interrelated elements of the competences obtained by those managers, first, two types of knowledge are essential for their daily work: technical or professional knowledge of their own industry and knowledge of management, including industry-specific knowledge. Second, effective managers also possess various useful skills, such as coaching skills, communication skills, negotiation skills, and leadership skills. Third, positive attitudes, such as thinking positively, being proactive, being professional, respecting others, being helpful/supportive, being open-minded, being humble, and maintaining a sense of humor distinguished the effective managers from their less effective counterparts. Most of the managers stated that their competences were developed through their own working experience instead of through the direct assistance of their previous or current superiors. Based on their tasks, job characteristics and how they developed iv their competences, the effective managers in this study are very similar to the effective managers found in the existing literature.

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Chang, In In


Faculty of Business Administration


Department of Management and Marketing




Business enterprises, Foreign -- China

Corporations, Foreign -- China

Investments, Foreign -- China

Industrial management -- China


Kong, Siew Huat

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