Hong Kong and China

2.5 Hong Kong and China

A large amount of the Asian personality and Asian performance literature that claims to be able to generalise findings to China has been researched by academics in Hong Kong, using either Hong Kong or mainland Chinese samples or both. This leads one to question whether it is possible to speak of Hong Kong and China interchangeably and to assume that the findings of research studies in Hong Kong can be extrapolated to the Chinese mainland.

Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Hong Kong’s history of British administration for almost 150 years, ending with the expiry of the official 99 year lease in 1997, has been different to that of mainland China. Hong Kong people nonetheless view themselves as either (a) ‘Heung Gong Yan’ (Hong Kong People/Chinese descent) and/or (b) ‘Zhong Gwok Yan’ (Chinese People) (Hong et al, 2003). The local culture is Chinese and although there are cultural differences between Hong Kong SAR and mainland China, these may only be as large as the differences between Beijing and other distant regions of China. Indeed, local researchers used the Chinese label in giving titles to their research publications before the 1997 return of sovereignty to the Chinese: “Effects of personality and performance on in-group favouritism among Hong Kong Chinese” (from title of Chiu, 1990) and since the handover “Prediction of performance facets using specific personality traits in the Chinese context” (from title of Kwong & Cheung, 2003, in reference to a study carried out on Hong Kong hotel supervisors). Furthermore, Cheung et al.’s (1996) original research during the development of the CPAI collapsed analyses across Hong Kong and mainland China after finding only 3 group scale score differences on the 38 scales of the full CPAI. Further, the researchers reported that congruence coefficients between Hong Kong SAR and mainland China ranged from .77 to .98 with an average of .88 and this led them to carry out a unitary factor analysis of their data. In terms of personality, as measured by the CPAI at least, there is support for generalising from Hong Kong SAR to China’s mainland. On the one hand, one cannot ignore cultural differences between regions of a country as large as China with differences between Hong Kong SAR and the mainland perhaps being no larger than differences between the capital and other more distant provinces of China. On the other hand, as commented upon by Averill, Chon and Hahn (2001) there is some reason to believe that research findings on local participants in Hong Kong and mainland China can be extrapolated to the north Asia region (China, Japan, Korea) and other areas of Asia whose citizens have been influenced by the same traditions of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.