Chinese business guanxi: an organization or non-organization?
Author: Parnell, Martin F.
Source: Journal of Organisational Transformation & Social Change, Volume 2, Number 1, September 2005 , pp. 29-47(19)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:This article analyses the Chinese phenomenon of guanxi, both in general terms, regarding its precise nature, and specifically in regard to business practice in China, as exemplified by the two spheres of human resource management and relationship marketing. guanxi is revealed not just as a central cultural artefact of historical dimensions, but as perhaps the key, distinctive social institution defining, directly or indirectly, virtually all social interaction in China: interpersonal; individual/group; group/group; organization/organization. The functioning of formal groups and organizations in China is materially shaped by this highly sophisticated and elaborate ‘system’ of networking and networks. However, guanxi is, by definition, an informal, ‘unofficial’ phenomenon, making empirical research in this field problematic (but by no means impossible, as the recent flurry of research in this area demonstrates). The challenge for organization theory is primarily twofold: to incorporate the distinctively Chinese elements (‘emics’) into a theory by definition concerned with universal dimensions (‘etics’); and, given the enduring overlap of polity, society and economy in the People's Republic of China, how to effectively undertake explicit research, in the field, into a tacit, ‘submerged’ phenomenon.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Liverpool John Moores University.
Publication date: 2005-09-01
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