Prof. Kwok Leung’s Memorial at AOM
A memorial service to remember and honor Kwok Leung was held at 4:00-5:00 pm on Aug. 9 at the conference site of the 75th AoM annual meeting. Over 100 scholars attended the service. After a moment of silence, Kwok’s wife, Yumi Inoue, recalled her memories of Kwok followed by a video of Kwok’s photos.
Mrs Kwok,Yumi Inoue
Many wept for losing their great friend, mentor and colleague. Professors Jia Lin Xie, Xiaoping Chen, Arie Lewin, Ying-yi Hong, Chao C. Chen and Michael Morris recalled their past contacts and interactions with Kwok and this again brought saddness to those present…
In the end, Prof. Ray Friedman, MC of the memorial service, announced the establishement of Kwok Leung Memorial Dissertation Support Fund to ‘preserve our memory of Kwok by continuing his efforts to support young scholars, in his name’.
Below are the speech scripts by Ying-yi Hong, Chao C. Chen, Xiaoping Chen, and Jia Lin Xie respectively.
Memories of Kwok: at Kwok Leung’s Memorial
I first met Kwok when he was a young assistant professor just graduated from UIUC. It was 1985, thirty years ago. He returned to CUHK, where he did his undergraduate degree, and started teaching in the Psychology Dept. At that time, I was in my sophomore year, and was a student in Kwok’s Introduction to Social Psychology class. It was an unforgettable experience. Kwok was exceptional in that he made an effort to teach us the most updated research. I still remember that two weeks before the mid-term examination, he assigned the class to read chapters from Daniel Kahneman, and Amos Tversky’s book Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. He himself got excited about the book, which was very new at the time, and thus thought the class should read it as well. He really meant it so much so that he asked about the book chapters in the mid-term examination; the class was surprise that he would actually test us on the contents, and thus most of us did not do well in the mid-term. His feeling that Kahneman and Tversky’s work was important for any psychology students to read was correct! As we know now, Daniel Kahnaman won the Nobel Prize for his work on judgment heuristics and biases in 2002. As shown, Kwok was a teacher with insight.
Over the years, Kwok had nurtured a lot of young scholars like myself. He had supervised numerous dissertation projects, and at the same time, he had inspired generations of young students who followed his steps to study overseas for a PhD and become professors in various universities. Kwok was a great model for us.
Over the years, both CY and I have benefited a lot from Kwok’s candid advice, especially at times when we most needed. I sought his advice on numerous things, including things related to my own career development or other professional issues, e.g., how to handle tough editorial cases when I was an associate editor for Asian Journal of Social Psychology. He was always wise. Just recently, we talked about my moving to CUHK and he gave me a lot of support and encouragement. It was a full circle for both of us as we have each moved to different universities and finally ended up returning to CUHK. I still remember the lunch we had together at CUHK in early March. As we finished our lunch, he needed to go back to his office. I waved goodbye to him as the elevator door closed. That was the last time I saw him.
He will be remembered as a great teacher and mentor. Kwok, we will really miss you.
(Aug 9, 2015)
Speech at Kwok Leung’s Memorial at 2015 Academy of Management Meeting, Vancouver
Chao C. Chen, August 9th, 2015
That was the saddest moment, indeed, the saddest day in my life when I heard the shocking, tragic news that Kwok passed away. People say time heals but it still hurts to think of Kwok’s departure; he played such a significant role in my personal and academic life. I got to know Kwok by reading his pioneering work on East-West cultural differences in distributive justice. Please note that although Kwok and I were of similar age when I entered the PhD program he was already an authoritative figure in the field of cross-cultural psychology and he was my idol, and to use the popular jargon, I was his 粉丝(fan), across the ocean though.
His research showed that with regards to rewards allocation, the Chinese prefer equality whereas Westerners prefer equity. Out of that seminal research grows my dissertation, in which I hypothesized and found evidence for the opposite, that is, due to the economic and market oriented reform that was unfolding in China in late 1980s, the Chinese supported differential rewards allocation even more strongly than the Americans. While excited at the findings, I felt nervous and even apprehensive the first time I met Kwok because of the fact that my findings contradict his and I wasn’t sure how he would react. Kwok was full of praise and encouragement, quickly putting me at ease when he reached out to me to congratulate me on the very study that seemed to refute his earlier findings. That kind of open-mindedness and inclusion impressed and touched me immensely. I started to seek his wisdom on Chinese culture, organizational justice, and cross-cultural psychology, which paved the path for our growing friendship and partnership.
He invited me to visit Hong Kong City U and introduced me to his doctoral students and told them that as long as you aim high and are willing to work persistently at what you are passionate about you will succeed. He visited me at Rutgers and I introduced him to my doctoral students as my mentor and a living example that curiosity and intrinsic motivation is the source of intellectual vitality and research productivity. Those were followed by more mutual help and collaboration. He served as external reader of one of my students, Ali Unal’s dissertation on moral dilemmas. He and I shared the same cabin on a farm near San Antonio when we were attending an MOR editors’ retreat. It was at that retreat he and I started a project on group harmony. Later, he, Peter Li, and I coedited a special issue for MOR on Indigenous Chinese Management Research. Aside from work collaboration, Kwok was a family friend. When he visited the New York City he took time to visit my home in New Jersey. My wife recalled in her Wechat post in commemoration of Kwok that Kwok brought us a box of Mrs. Fields cookies, a very touching detail that, I am embarrassed to admit, I forgot.
While my experience with Kwok is personal and unique I am also fully aware that he had built highly personal relationships with many others as well. The truth is Kwok, while in one sense a traditional Chinese gentleman, is, in my view, a post-modern global citizen. He married a wonderful Japanese wife, Yumi, travelled all over the world, was most knowledgeable and appreciative of very diverse cultures from all continents of the world. His relationship with colleagues, while personal, is fundamentally intellectual and spiritual, which remind me of the Chinese saying“君子之交淡如水”, which in English describes “a noble interpersonal relationship that is as plain and pure as water”. In other words, it is free from worldly concerns of material benefits. In a world in which even the elite, of all trades that include academics, are in the pursuit of competitive advantages in power, resources, and fame, I found Kwok’s way of associating with colleagues most refreshing and admirable.
Probably as one of his last major projects, reflecting his great legacy of being a giant thought leader in the psychology of the Chinese people and in cross-cultural management, he was invited by Xiaoping Chen to head a guest editorial team for the special issue of OBHDP on phenomenon based management research in China . With feelings of honor and mission, I joined Kwok and Ray Friedman in coediting this special issue. Little did I know that right in the middle of this venturous, exciting journey, came the shocking news that Kwok fell ill and was hospitalized. I am not religious but every evening I prayed for Kwok to recover and come back to work with us for the special issue, maybe for the selfish reason of a reduced workload for the rest of the editorial team, but because that would definitely prove that he is OK. My wish however was crushed and my heart broken when I heard of Kwok’s sudden end of life. It was the same relentlessly devastating feeling I felt when my doctoral adviser, Jim Meindl, died of a sudden death more than 10 years ago and I still feels pain every time I thought of it. This is how much I realized that I so respect, admire, and love Kwok, as a friend and as a mentor.
Kwok and Jim had a lot in common: broadly interested in academics and in life, even tempered, approachable and yet forever inspiring. Although I find myself protesting fate’s unfairness in taking away my most valued and loved colleague, I also felt blessed with what the Chinese called my “yuanfen” with Kwok. According to the Chinese belief of “yuanfen”, no human relationship is random or by chance but is somehow destined and worth cherishing. So, Kwok, I’d like to think that I am favored by fate to come to know you and be closely associated with you. Accordingly I will cherish our relationship for the rest of my life. I want to take this opportunity to thank you. Thank you for being there when I was searching for my dissertation topic, for your continuing mentoring of myself and my students, for your good humor, and for all the pleasant and proud memories you left me. Kwok, even though you left us physically, you will live with us spiritually in our thoughts and feelings, in the research we do and publish, and in the life we live and cherish. Farewell, Kwok, my dear friend, rest in peace.
Kwok in My mind
– Speech at Kwok’s Memorial
Xiao-Ping Chen, University of Washington
Every year at AOM, I expect to bump into Kwok in every corner of the conference venues and it happened every year. But this year I know that I will not meet him in person.
It is with a profound sadness that I stand here to share with you my memories of Kwok.
Kwok and I go way back. In Chinese’ definition, Kwok was my big brother in our Ph.D. family (师兄). We attended the same Ph.D. program at University of Illinois, and studied with the same advisors: Harry Triandis and Sam Komorita. Even though Kwok graduated before I entered the program, I always remember what Sam told me about Kwok. He said, “Kwok used to say that he performs the best when he is under extreme pressure.” This was very inspiring to me because I was struggling quite a bit as a new Ph.D. student at the time, and I remembered his name.
After I joined the faculty at HKUST, I finally met Kwok in person where he was the chair of the psychology department at CUHK. We did not have much interaction until we both got involved in IACMR in which he served as senior editor and later associate editor of MOR, and I served as the second president of IACMR and consulting editor of MOR. Here are a few most important things I remember about Kwok.
First, Kwok is a serious researcher and a deep thinker. As we all know, he published numerous articles and books on management theory, research method, and empirical findings of his research. He has been on numerous editorial boards and served as reviewers for countless articles. I remember when he as the area editor of JIBS, how he pushed me and my coauthor to think deeper about the theoretical explanations of our findings, and how we learned in the process and how proud we felt when the paper was finally published. Besides that, I also remember a few years ago after the MOR senior editor retreat in a ranch near San Antonio, we went to the airport together, and we were continuing our discussion about Chinese management research. He suddenly said, “Xiao-Ping, we should stop discussing this, otherwise, we might miss our flight.” I said, “How would that happen?” He said, “It is because of his previous experience with Larry Farh.” I asked him what happened and he said, “We engaged in a deep conversation and completely forgot that we were at the airport; so we both missed our flight back to Hong Kong.” I couldn’t help laughing and checking my watch. We were OK.
Second, Kwok is a selfless contributor to our profession. In addition to the numerous responsibilities he took (e.g., department chair, president of International Association of Conflict Management, editor for Asia Journal of Social Psychology, associate editor of MOR), he is also a regular contributor to research methods workshops, keynote panels, and conferences. Two years ago, I invited him to be the chief guest editor for a special issue in OBHDP focusing on management phenomenon in China because of his deep understanding of the Chinese culture and his great insights into the unique management challenges China faces. It was a difficult task and I was afraid that he would say no. However, after I described him about the motivation to conduct this special issue, to my delight, he immediately said yes. I remember that we had lunch in Shanghai spending two hours discussing the plan for the special issue. He later followed up timely with everything we planned out: writing a proposal, forming a guest editorial team, sending out the formal call for paper announcement, assigning papers among the guest editorial team, planning for an author-editor workshop, etc. And the last email he wrote to me on March 5, 2015 was about the special issue. It is just so sad that Kwok won’t be able to see this issue published.
Third, Kwok is a fun and caring person. He is a sharp observer and doing research to find out why certain phenomenon occurs is fun for him; it is his hobby rather than a job he has to do. The last time I had close interaction with him was last August when we had a small conference in Sweden organized by Tony Fang. During the 5-day conference, we met from morning to evening, ate every meal together, and travelled together from Stockholm to Mora back and forth on a bus with a single trip of 5 hours. I remember he told me about his kids, how proud he was that both of them graduated from college and started to live an independent life. He also showed me a photo on his phone an apartment Kirk and Eiki rented in Hong Kong Island, and told me that they would be roommates! He told me that they both speak several languages, including English, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Japanese; but he cannot speak Japanese and his wife Yumi cannot speak Chinese. It is fascinating to me how a multicultural family works and functions.
Kwok also gave me a book to read during the 5-hour bus ride. The book’s title was Big River Big Sea 1949 (《大江大海1949》), written by the famous Taiwanese author Long Yingtai. I’ve heard about this book long time ago and Long Yingtai is my favorite Chinese author, but I just couldn’t gather the courage to read it because I knew that the book described the darkest period of the Chinese history (1945-1949) and how sad I would become if I read those stories. Kwok said that that he had the same hesitation but he was able to finally finish reading it on the plane from Hong Kong to Stockholm and thought that was definitely a worthwhile reading. So I decided to read it immediately. I was shocked by many of the historical events described in the book that I have never learned in my Chinese history classes, and saddened by all of the cruel deeds the Chinese people did to one another. My tears could not stop running and I sobbed the whole way. My colleagues were all surprised to see that, so I started to explain to them what I was reading. One of the scholars attending the conference was Professor K. K. Hwang from National Taiwan University, and it happened to be that his father’s experience was directly related to one incident in the book. Kwok and I were very curious, so we quickly interviewed professor Hwang on the bus. Other scholars including John Child, Arie Lewin, Gordon Reading, and so on also joined our conversation. This scene will be frozen in my memory permanently. The book is now on my home bookshelf; every time I see it, Kwok comes to my mind.
A close friend’s departure always make us think about the meaning of life. When I step back and review of the things Kwok did, the books and articles he wrote, the places he travelled, and the wonderful family he had, I thought that Kwok really had lived a full and happy life. His impact on others and his positive influence on the larger society will always stay here with us. Even though he is no longer physically with us, Kwok will live forever in our heart and mind.
The Spirit of Service
— In Honor of Kwok Leung
Jia Lin Xie – presented at Kwok’s Leung’s Memorial
So many days have passed by but I still cannot believe that Kwok left us. I just cannot find an explanation for this. Kwok was such a healthy person, one of the healthiest individuals I know of in the academic circle, physically and psychologically.
Today we are here to honor Kwok. We all know that he was an outstanding scholar who made significant contributions to our field, but I would say a few words about another aspect of his scholarship – his spirit of service.
In this academic world, there are things that we must do—research and publication—we have no choices. However, there are things that we do not have to do, or can choose to do as little as possible—the SERVICE, such as being a reviewer of others’ papers, editor of journals, organizer of conferences, assessor for grants, and examiners, mentors, and friends.
Doing the former, research and publications, defines what kind of researcher you are. Doing the latter, the service, reflects somehow what kind of person you are.
I will always remember Kwok, not only because of his academic excellence, but also because of his exceptional generosity in serving our community.
Look at how much Kwok did for us:
Editor： Asian Journal of Social Psychology
Journal of International Business Studies
Asia Pacific Journal of Management
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Asian Journal of Social Psychology
Consulting Editor, for 23 journals
Reviewer, for 49 journals
Organizer, for many conferences
Assessor, for many recruitment, tenure, and promotion cases
External examiner, for many univerirties
From this list, an incomplete list, we see how much time and energy Kwok contributed to the academic world, to which you and I and all of us belong.
I worked with Kwok at City U for three years. We used to chat freely about our lives; and we had some frank discussions about academic lives. There was not even a single incident that he complained about doing too much service, or being too stressed because of overload or multi-tasking. He believed in what he was doing, and he did all these willingly and even joyfully.
“I want to do it” and “I am wanted to do it” are completely different mentalities.
“If you agree to serve, then you should do it. If you choose to do it, then you must deliver.”
Mrs. Leung and family: I know that nothing can comfort or compensate for your loss. We, Kwok’s colleagues, feel that he lived through his academic life the fullest, in pursuit of excellence, responsible scholarship, and spirit of service. This memorial is our “thank-you” to him and to you — his family.
His spirit, passion, positive attitudes, and beautiful smiles will always be with us. ALWAYS. Thank you.