Friday, April 19, 2013

Kuiku-tze (鬼谷子) - China's first behavioural scientist?

Everyone seems to know Sun-tze; surprisingly, many have not heard of Kuiku-tze. I thought Kuiku-tze was in many respects a greater strategist than Sun-tze, based on the stuff I have read, though.

Legend has it that he had been around from the Yellow Emperor period - that was more than 2000BC! - until the dying years of Zhou Dynasty (around 400BC), which means he had lived for more than one thousand years. A lot of tall tales indeed!

Some said he was practising diplomacy during Spring-Autumn period (circa 500BC), others put him slightly later, around the Warring Period. But what is attributed to Kuiku-tze may not have been from one single individual at all.

There are 14 chapters in "his" book, much of it is about negotiations, judo-style. Like Sun-tze, much of the advocacy is really commonsensical, bothering on deceptions, in essence. Some of the illustrations actually appeared quite infantile to me. Nonetheless, MBAs would love it. He must be China's first behavioural scientist!




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