Skip to main content
School of Business and Management

Zhihui Bi

 Zhihui Bi


Project title: 

The Rigour and Relevance Debate in Chinese Business Schools: An Institutional Analysis.

Project description: 

Her thesis title is “The Rigour and Relevance Debate in Chinese Business Schools: An Institutional Analysis”. In Western business schools, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, the debate around rigour and relevance in management education and research has been intense. Yet little is known about this debate in developing countries.

This thesis investigates the Chinese context, where the debate has been ignored in the existing literature. The historical context of Chinese business schools is presented to explore how each development stage was driven by China’s particular socio-political conditions. Drawing on an institutional theory perspective, the thesis investigates to what extent Chinese business schools have engaged with the rigour and relevance debate and how and why they have done so. For this purpose, semi-structured interviews with academic staff from different types and tiers of Chinese business schools were conducted. The thesis highlights both the top-down effects of institutional logics and their bottom-up construction, illustrating how institutional change involves dynamic interactions between multiple levels (institutional, organisational, and individual). The thesis contributes to both the literature on the rigour and relevance debate and institutional theory.


1st Supervisor: Professor Michael Rowlinson
2nd Supervisor: Dr Manuela Perrotta


Zhihui Bi is a final year PhD candidate at School of Business and Management in Queen Mary University of London. Her research interests are in Organisational Behaviour, Organisational Learning and Change, Management and Organizational History, and Institutional Theory. She is supervised by Dr Andromachi Athanasopoulou, Dr Manuela Perrotta, and Prof Michael Rowlinson. Her email address is


  • The Future of Business Schools: Unity of Rigor and Relevance, with X, Wang and P, Li., Foreign Economics & Management, Volume 41, Issue 5, Pages 141-152, 2019.
  • Conference presentation - 2017 European Foundation for Management Development (Brussels), EFMD Conference on Higher Education Research