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The Same Term but Different Connotations: Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Studying the Academic Profession in China and Other Asian Countries

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Through experiencing and reviewing multiple-country endeavors in academic profession study and participating in a new project regarding the academic profession in Asia, the author pinpoints and anticipates the shortcomings of study alone or dominantly questionnaire-based and ignoring the broader social context. The author proposes a new perspective or methodology to mitigate these shortcomings. The traditional approach focuses on commonalities rather than differences of the academic profession in a variety of countries. By comparing identical questionnaires, it is easy to conclude that, according to some indicators, the academic profession in developing countries, a category in which most Asian countries belong, is inferior to that in developed countries by a certain magnitude. This research strategy will devalue the research efforts on the academic profession in Asia. The academic profession is a complicated phenomenon, and it requires a sophisticated research methodology. The characteristics of the academic profession in Asia can be induced by empirically studying its relationship with the institutional environments in which the academic profession is embedded. In addition, all developing countries in Asia are undergoing a process of modernization. This dynamic feature is valuable and deserves exploration. The institutional environments in Asia can be demonstrated and illustrated via cultural and historical lenses.


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