Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Department or School/College

School of Education

Committee Chair

William P. McCaw

Commitee Members

Roberta D. Evans, Rhea Ashmore, John Matt, Zhen Cao


Aristotelian Virtues, Confucian Virtues, Eastern and Western Leadership, Interpretive Biography, Ren Leadership, Servant Leadership


University of Montana


The purpose of this qualitative interpretive biographical study was to enhance our understanding of leadership by exploring the life of Bai Fangli through the lens of Confucian virtues. This study followed Denzin's (1989a) qualitative design of interpretive biography by exploring Bai's epiphanies to offer multiple perspectives on the significance of the epiphanies and their impact on Bai's life and his influence as a modern Chinese leader. This study was guided by the central question: What is the essence of the life and leadership of Bai Fangli as explored through the lens of Confucian virtues? In order to answer this study's central question, Denzin's data analysis procedures were applied for this study. Incorporating Denzin's data analysis procedures, this study applied three phases of data analysis: (a) document analysis, (b) interview analysis, and (c) combined the analysis of the documents and interviews.

Data from documents were gathered from 91 online newspaper articles, 43 photographs, and 8 videoclips. Interview data were gathered during open-ended interviews with 12 purposefully selected participants. An internet-based audio video system, emails, and phone were utilized in this study. Four themes and seven sub virtue themes were combined from these documents and interviews. The lens of Confucian virtues was articulated based on seven sub virtue themes and how they are aligned with the literature review. Bai Fangli's interpretive biography was then reconstructed and the major themes that have shaped his life were identified.

This study enhances our understanding of leadership by articulating Ren Leadership, a universal leadership. Since Bai's actions demonstrated both Eastern virtues of benevolence and great love [ren ai], righteousness [yi], rituals [li], wisdom [zhi], trustworthiness [xin], fortitude [yong], and frugality [jian] and Western virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance, the second finding recognized that moral leadership is applicable to both Eastern and Western world views. The third finding describes an example of a moral leader in China who blended both Eastern and Western virtues. Finally, this study revealed the feasibility of the return of the traditional Confucian virtues in contemporary China.



© Copyright 2009 Jin Zhou