East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

Jan 13 Workshop


East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society Presents


Toward an Integrated Theory of New Organizational Form: the Crystallization of Mass Teaching in New Oriental before its Diffusion in China’s Education and Training Industry, 1980-2000


Le Lin

PhD Candidate

Department of Sociology

University of Chicago


4:30-6pm, Tuesday

January 13, 2015

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.



In this paper, I explain why mass teaching emerged as a trendy organizational form in China’s education and training industry from 1980 to 2000. Previous theories of new organizational form have focused on selection and succession among multiple existing forms, but they all neglect how pioneering organizations crystalized a new form into a full-fledged model that can be imitated and diffused. To fill this missing theoretical link, I examine why and how New Oriental, now China’s largest educational corporation, incorporated certain organizational elements, adopted certain strategic direction, and developed an advanced form of mass teaching to such an extent that this form fueled New Oriental’s dominance of the studying-abroad test-prep segment and it was later imitated across the industry. The underlying mechanism, I argue, is New Oriental’s adaptation process along the direction of a particular r-K composition. Specifically, the founder of New Oriental initially employed r-strategies to recruit a large number of students. Through using his own teaching style as the benchmark for internal competition and later through succession of teachers, he further upgraded his quality control K-strategies, not toward measurable students’ gain or delivery of educational content, but toward greater emphasis on the form of class presentation. The different level of inertia among different organizations enabled New Oriental but not others to carry this particular r-K composition—K-strategies in the r-direction—to a full-fledged form. My data is primarily drawn from historical archives, in-depth interviews and published works such as memoires. I include five additional cases to increase validity and reduce selection on dependent variable. Broader theoretical implication is discussed.


Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/

Student coordinator: Wen Xie (wxie@uchicago.edu)

Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang, Dingxin Zhao and Zheng Michael Song


This presentation is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences and Center for East Asian Studies. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinator in advance.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.