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Culture, Discipline, and Competitiveness (CDC): Advancing the Discipline Paradigm

Call for papers for: International Journal of Educational Management

Special issue call for papers from International Journal of Educational Management


Chris Baumann, Macquarie University, Sydney Australia, and Seoul National University (SNU), Korea
Hume Winzar, Macquarie University, Sydney Australia
Doris Viengkham, Macquarie University, Sydney Australia 
Hana Krskova, Macquarie University, Sydney Australia 


The notion that education drives a nation’s economic growth (Schultz, 1963; Becker, 1964) has led to many an investigation over the past decades into what factors determine academic performance (e.g. Barro and Lee, 1993; Hanushek and Kimko, 2000; Hanushek, 2011). Over the years, Discipline has emerged as one of such drivers, at least in the context of schools (e.g. Lewis, 2001; Lewis, 2006). In fact, the topic of Discipline has generated considerable attention from academics, practitioners as well as the popular press for decades. In the realm of education, many of the conversations around Discipline have, however, historically centred on classroom and behaviour management in schools (e.g. Oplatka and Atias, 2007), with the studies predominately drawing on data from a single country (e.g. Hue, 2007).

A new line of inquiry into Discipline opened up in 2000 when, questions about Discipline were included in the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) (e.g. OECD, 2004). OECD administers PISA every three years to assess the academic performance of over 500,000 15-year old students in reading, mathematics, science and problem solving. The availability of PISA data gave raise to comparative cross-cultural studies of the association between (school) Discipline and academic achievement (e.g. Cohen et al., 2009; Chiu and Chow, 2011).

Several such studies probing the PISA data set the scene for this Special Issue into the role of Discipline as a link between culture and performance/competitiveness. Recently, Baumann and Krskova (2016) found that while students with the highest levels of Discipline achieved the highest academic results, the levels of Discipline varied across different geographic regions. More specifically, secondary school students in East Asian societies were found to outperform the “West” academically. In particular, against the backdrop of Confucianism, students in East Asian societies have been able achieve remarkable academic achievement in comparison to students from other cultural backgrounds. A subsequent study by Krskova and Baumann (2017) extended the investigation into school Discipline by combining Discipline, education investment, educational performance and competitiveness into one model, to find that both Discipline and investment in education affect educational performance, however the relative importance of Discipline in contrast to investment in education on educational performance was 88 and 12 percent respectively. In other words, Discipline affects educational performance much more than investment in education. In an era of constant downward budgetary pressure on educational institutions to achieve more with less, Discipline had certainly presented itself as an alternative strategy for increasing academic performance.

In addition to probing the outcomes of Discipline, such as ‘students listen well, noise levels, teacher waiting time, students work well and class start time’ (as reported by PISA), in the context of secondary schools for links with academic achievement, further research has explored the possible differences in Discipline between East and West in terms of approaches to pedagogy. For example, Baumann et al. (2016) probed for the links between pedagogical approach in education and work ethic to find that a Confucianism approach to pedagogy contributes to strong performance and higher levels of work ethic. In terms of establishing the links between Discipline and Competitiveness, the research in education, business and management is somewhat new. However, with the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Schwab, 2017), research into Discipline, a somewhat under-explored driver of Competitiveness - national as well individual level foci – has become more important than ever. While not focusing on Discipline per se, in a study probing the role of competitiveness and of ethnicity in relation to student academic performance, Baumann and Harvey (2018, p. 198) confirmed that ‘competitiveness drives performance for everyone’.

Acknowledging ‘the significant impact improving discipline can have for a nation’s productivity’, this Special Issue continues this stream of past investigation into overall mechanisms of how the relationship between Discipline and competitiveness works. In particular, the theme of this Special Issue centres around the newly introduced framework of Confucianism, Discipline, and Competitiveness (CDC) (Baumann et al., 2020, p. ii).


The CDC book offers a comprehensive look at three interrelated concepts: Confucianism, Discipline, and Competitiveness.

By combining three seemingly unrelated dimensions from three different areas of studies - Confucianism from cultural studies, Discipline from the field of education and pedagogy, and Competitiveness from the sphere of business and economics - the CDC book offers a new understanding of pedagogy, contrasting East Asia to other parts of the world.

The manuscript highlights the prominent role that a Confucian approach to pedagogy, with its focus on instilling values of hard work, Discipline and education, has played in the rapid economic growth of East Asian societies.

To date, the three main theoretical contributions of CDC have centred on:

1.    Taxonomy of Discipline dimensions: Consequences for Non-compliance

a.    Behaviour, conduct, and deportment;

b.    Manners;

c.     Respect for teachers, education, and other students;

d.    Punctuality;

e.    Uniform / dress standard;

f.      Academic performance;

g.    Homework (e.g. checks by teachers for completion).

2.    Parent-Engagement-School-Discipline taxonomy (PESD)

a.    EDP: Parents are engaged and favour a disciplined approach to education;

b.    EPP: Parents are engaged and favour a permissive, less-disciplined approach to education; and

c.     DIP: Parents are disengaged and are indifferent about Discipline approach to education.

3.    Wheel of competitiveness

a.    It illustrates that individual / organisation / nation that is competitive, can also perform better. This in turn leads to further competitiveness accompanied with higher performance. It is at the centre of the wheel where Discipline is located.

b.    For nations wishing to become more competitive or pursuing rapid economic changes, the wheel of competitiveness showcases the complexity to becoming more competitive.

In sum, CDC is a demonstration of how Discipline drives performance and in turn, competitiveness, with the national culture playing a key role in the approach towards education. However, further investigations into how Discipline drives performance and competitiveness are warranted, and CDC provides an important platform for future studies on Discipline and Competitiveness, not limited to Confucian ethic. For the purposes of this Special Issue, the initial topic of Confucianism has been extended to Culture more broadly.


We invite submissions to this Special Issue of International Journal of Educational Management focusing on exploration of novel concepts and methodologies in line with the Confucianism, Discipline, and Competitiveness (CDC) framework, and developing a foundation for further research on this important topic.

Though clear strides have been made, more can be done to gain a better understanding of the valuable role of Discipline in shaping success of societies.

We invite researchers to capture the nuances attributed to cultural values (for example, Confucianism) that shape Discipline and competitiveness. We specifically welcome an examination of the new Taxonomy of Discipline Dimensions. Furthermore, we invite evidence-based contribution on how nations can enhance their performance and competitiveness in the global marketplace.

We are interested in articles addressing issues that advance the understanding of the relationship of Culture, Discipline and Competitiveness in educational management in cross cultural context.

A number of specific directions for future research as a foundation for research are being considered for this special issue:

A.    Theoretical contributions to the concept of CDC.

B.    Longitudinal studies that examine the trajectory of growth or decline in Discipline over time.

C.    Exploration of Discipline as a determinant of outcomes (such as academic achievement, performance, competitiveness or productivity) in cross-national contexts.

D.    Examination of antecedents of Discipline in cross-cultural contexts.

E.    Case study exemplars of the relationship between Culture, Discipline and Competitiveness.

F.    Investigation of Discipline at the primary, secondary, tertiary or vocational education levels.

G.   Examination of the mechanics of a progression through levels of Discipline in the context of the recently introduced Threshold of Discipline (Krskova et al., 2019) from externally enforced Discipline (such as in schools), internally enforced Discipline (in the workforce) towards the pinnacle of the Threshold: the Creative Discipline.

H.    Investigation of Discipline in the context of workplace performance and work ethic.

Furthermore, the Confucianism, Discipline, and Competitiveness (CDC) book provides a research agenda for investigation of the relationship between Culture, Discipline and Competitiveness:

1.    Local vis-à-vis immigrant students – similarly to Baumann et al. (2012) who examined attitudes towards Discipline of Chinese in China and overseas, exploring differences between students with a Confucian background (e.g. Chinese or Korean) and local students in the West and/or Anglo-Saxon schools.

2.    Segmentation and effects over time – probing other segmentation criteria – beyond Confucianism – for examining the effects of Discipline per segment (such as low or high performing students); and under which conditions strict Discipline at school or at home result in high levels of Discipline and performance in adults.

3.    School Discipline vis-à-vis (self-)discipline – investigating the association between Discipline experienced at school and at home in the transformation into adult Discipline.

4.    Rules of engagement and effective “tools” to discipline students – seeking answers to questions: What are effective tools? – and - What tools are applicable in the context of school and/or Higher Education?

5.    Legal – with Discipline standards being widely divergent across the globe and with the law not always clear around what Discipline teachers are able to implement in the classrooms, the question remains: Would laws needed updating should nations wish to permit teachers to apply appropriate Discipline? 

6.    Competitive Productivity (CP) – having established that education has a positive effect on national competitiveness over time (Krskova and Baumann, 2017), the mechanics of how academic performance drives micro-level (individual) Competitive Productivity (CP) remains to be explored further.

7.    M-M-M (Micro-Meso-macro) architecture – investigations into the degree Discipline drives academic performance and Individual Competitive Productivity (ICP) should be carried applying the micro-meso-macro architecture.

8.    The Parent-Engagement-School-Discipline (PESD) taxonomy – probing the role of parents in relation to their engagement with their children’s education and their view on school Discipline.

9.    Digitalisation of education – another promising avenue for research relates to Discipline as a 21st century skill and its role in the era of increased accessibility of education through online platforms.

10.  The value of Discipline in life and in society – Could it be that a more disciplined individual will reap positive outcomes in other areas of life, such as in personal finance matters (e.g. higher savings rate) or in the domain of health and exercise?



All manuscripts will undergo a double-blind peer review process. Submissions should be between 5,000-9,000 words, including references, figures and tables, and follow the manuscript requirement outlined on the journal’s page.

The submission deadline is now 31 December 2020, the review process will take place in early 2021. Please direct queries to:

·Associate Professor Chris Baumann: [email protected];

·Associate Professor Hume Winzar: [email protected];

·Dr Doris Viengkham: [email protected]; and

·Dr Hana Krskova: [email protected]


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Baumann, C., Hamin, H. & Yang, S. J. 2016. Work ethic formed by pedagogical approach: evolution of institutional approach to education and competitiveness. Asia Pacific Business Review, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 374-396.

Baumann, C. & Harvey, M. 2018. Competitiveness vis-à-vis motivation and personality as drivers of academic performance – introducing the MCP model. International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 185-202.

Baumann, C. & Krskova, H. 2016. School discipline, school uniforms and academic performance. International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 1003-1029.

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