Does guanxi still matter in 21st century Chinese business and management? Is it really still a culturally distinct form of social interaction, impenetrable by outsiders? Or does it simply resemble the countless other elite networks embedded in business and political spheres across the globe?
This book answers these questions through a combination of new empirical insight and nuanced conceptual development. Research examples include investigations of multinational enterprise corporate performance, governance structures in Chinese private firms, organisational justice in Chinese banks, entrepreneurial learning and knowledge acquisition, and the gendered and sexualized nature of guanxi in the workplace. In terms of firm performance, there is still much to be gained by MNE and Chinese firms through cultivating guanxi in different domains, including the political sphere at both the local and national level. However, in terms of employee performance, there is evidence that some younger employees have a strong desire to move towards more merit-based systems and resent being judged on guanxi connections. Similarly, some women may find themselves shut out when attempting to navigate conventional guanxi relationships based on Confucian paternalism. In brief, these practices may also exclude a large pool of emerging talent. This book clearly shows that guanxi is a complex concept that holds a persistent power in Chinese societies. To understand it fully we must acknowledge the dynamic nature of both its dark and light sides.
The chapters in this book were originally published in a special issue of the Asia Pacific Business Review.
Table of Contents
Dedication to Malcolm Warner
Jane Nolan and Chris Rowley
Malcolm Warner: a tribute
1. Whither the theory and practice of guanxi and social networks: a critical analysis and overview
Jane Nolan and Chris Rowley
2. Ethical cronyism: an insider approach for building guanxi and leveraging business performance in China
T.K.P. Leung and Bradley R. Barnes
3. Elective affinity between guanxi favouritism and market rationality: guanxi circles as governance structure in China’s private firms
Yanjie Bian and Man Shuai
4. The influence of guanxi on organizational justice and fairness: the example of performance appraisals in Chinese banks
Fan Gu, Jane Nolan and Chris Rowley
5. Gendered and sexualized guanxi: the use of erotic capital in the workplace in urban China
6. Founders social ties, learning and entrepreneurial knowledge acquisition in China
Biaoan Shan and Xifeng Lu
Jane Nolan is Associate Professor in Organizational Behaviour at the Business School, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK. She has published on a wide range of areas, including expatriate management, institutional change and corporate governance in China as well as gender, work and employment.
Chris Rowley is Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, University of Oxford, UK, and Professor Emeritus at Cass Business School, City, University of London, UK. He publishes widely on many aspects of work, employment and Asian business and management and provides expert opinion and comments for the international media.