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Zheng He's Art of Collaboration

Understanding the Legendary Chinese Admiral from a Management Perspective

Hum Sin Hoon

Publication Year: 2011

Know your enemies, know yourself, advised Sun Zi in his famous Art of War (AoW). In contrast, the legendary Admiral Zheng He would have said, "Know your collaborators, know yourself", and this would be the essence of his Art of Collaboration (AoC). This book offers a fresh new approach to doing business and providing leadership in the twenty-first century, where Zheng He's peaceful and win-win collaborative paradigm present in his AoC provides an alternative to the aggressive and antagonistic mindset inherent in Sun Zi's AoW. The author has culled from the existing literature on the historical, cultural, diplomatic, and maritime-oriented Zheng He, connected the dots of his discovery of a managerial Zheng He, and wrote this book to present both the big message of Zheng He's Art of Collaboration as well as an understanding of Zheng He's specific work as a leader and manager.

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. xv-xvi

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pp. xvii-xxii

The last decade of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century have enjoyed peace and yet the world has been full of the smoke of gunpowder, conflicts and endless suicidal bomb explosions...

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pp. xxiii-xxvi

What should be the relevant management philosophy and strategies for today’s twenty-first century world? Currently, one of the most popular management concepts is that based on “Sun Zi Bing Fa” or “Sun Zi’s Art of War”. Sun Zi was a brilliant Chinese...

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pp. xxvii-xxxiv

Just before the Lunar New Year in 2010, I met up with a group of Chinese businessmen led by Mr Wong Ah Long. These gentlemen explained quite quickly and seriously that they would like me to help in doing research on the...

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pp. xxxv-xxxvi

I want to express my sincere thanks to Mr Wong Ah Long and Dr Tan Ta Sen for introducing me to Zheng He. Their request for me to do “some research on Zheng He” has allowed me to start my journey...


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1. Introducing Zheng He from the Management Perspective: Why Pay Attention to this Fifteenth-Century Chinese Eunuch?

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pp. 3-24

With the rise of Asia and China economically, much interest has been put on learning about doing business and practising management in this part of the world. And while much writing have focused on...

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2. Zheng He's Art of Collaboration (AoC): An Alternative Model to Sun Zi's Art of War (AoW)

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pp. 25-59

Much has been written on the grand voyages of Admiral Zheng He from the historical, diplomatic, cultural and maritime perspectives. We have therefore come to understand and appreciate Zheng He’s body of work...

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3. Zheng He's Acts of Collaboration: Zheng He's Mission and Art of Collaboration on the Ground

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pp. 60-107

In the previous chapter, we introduced Zheng He’s Art of Collaboration (AoC) as comprising the 4C strategies of Capabilitybuilding (in preparation for collaboration), Coordination (of people and activities...

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4. Comparing the Art of Collaboration with the Art of War: Does the AoC Always Triumph Over the AoW?

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pp. 108-130

We already know that Zheng He was charged by Emperor Yongle with the fundamental mission of pursuing a diplomacy of peace by spreading Chinese culture and forging friendly ties between China and countries in..


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5. Learning from Zheng He: Leadership Principles and Practices

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pp. 133-170

Most, if not all, of the writings about Zheng He has been from the historical, maritime, diplomatic and cultural perspectives. Accordingly, the written literature has conferred many titles on Zheng He from these perspectives, praising him as a eunuch military commander...

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6. Learning from Zheng He: Human Resource Management Practices

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pp. 171-193

Zheng He’s grand voyages have been associated with two unprecedented, large-scale characteristics: a huge fleet of 200–300 ships, with the largest treasure ships measuring some 480ft by 194ft and the medium-sized ones measuring about 399ft by 162ft;1 and a large crew...

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7. Learning from Zheng He: Logistics and Supply Chain Management Practices

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pp. 194-247

From 1405–33, Zheng He led the world’s largest ocean-going fleet in seven epic grand voyages to the West. The voyages were epic in terms of their unprecedented fleet and crew sizes, and the long distances travelled; they...

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8. Zheng He and His Faith: Implications for Management Practices

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pp. 248-272

When we explore the existing literature on Zheng He and his grand voyages, it is difficult to miss the observation that Zheng He and his men were significantly involved in praying for divine help and protection....


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pp. 273-291

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About the Author

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pp. 292

Prof Hum Sin Hoon obtained his B. Commerce and B. Engineering (Hons) as a Colombo Plan Scholar from the University of Newcastle, Australia. He received his Ph.D. in Production/ Operations Management...

E-ISBN-13: 9789814379670
Print-ISBN-13: 9789814379700

Page Count: 293
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Zheng, He, 1371-1435.
  • Management.
  • Leadership.
  • Organizational effectiveness.
  • Admirals -- China.
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