Chinese guanxi: The good, the bad and the controversial.

  • Chen X
  • Chen C
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The past decade has witnessed a surge of academic interest in Chinese guanxi by scholars in disciplines such as sociology, economics, marketing, business strategy and human resource management. A brief review of the published papers indicates several characteristics of the existing guanxi research. First, the definitions of guanxi differ significantly between researchers who study guanxi at the individual/interpersonal level versus those who study guanxi at the organization level. Second, the perspectives regarding guanxi vary significantly when guanxi is viewed as connections between two individuals versus between two firms versus between a firm and a governmental body. These perspectives often influence how scholars define guanxi, thereby producing some of the confusion. Third, while the majority of research studies the benefits and costs associated with guanxi, few studies examine the process/mechanisms involved in linking guanxi antecedents and outcomes. Fourth, whereas guanxi is studied at different levels separately, the theoretical frameworks used in guiding research are amazingly similar, often including the social exchange theory (Blau, 1964; Hwang, 1987), social capital theory (Coleman, 1990), social network theory (Burt, 1992; Granovetter, 1973; Lin, 1982) and the resource-based view (Barney, 1991). Finally, there is little, if any, dialogue between researchers who study guanxi at different levels. In this chapter, we shall review the existing guanxi literature by explicating the perspectives regarding the nature of guanxi (good, bad or controversial) and their corresponding definitions, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the current guanxi research, propose a multi-level, integrative and dynamic model to study guanxi, and discuss its theoretical and practical implications for future guanxi research and practice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Author-supplied keywords

  • *Chinese Cultural Groups
  • *Interpersonal Relationships
  • *Sociocultural Factors
  • Interpersonal Influences
  • Social Networks

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  • Xiao-Ping Chen

  • Chao C Chen

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