A Typology of Guanxi-Based Governance Mechanisms for Knowledge Transfer in Business Networks of Chinese Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Ko, Wai Wai and Liu, Gordon (2017). A Typology of Guanxi-Based Governance Mechanisms for Knowledge Transfer in Business Networks of Chinese Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. Group & Organization Management, 42(4) pp. 548–590.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1059601115627942

Abstract

Guanxi has strong implications for interactions among individuals in Chinese society. This study investigates guanxi-based governance mechanisms in the context of knowledge transfer among Chinese small and medium-sized manufacturing firms. We analyze, in-depth, qualitative interview data gathered from 78 Chinese engineers who work for Chinese small and medium-sized die-casting manufacturers. Our findings reveal that guanxi influences the production of three forms of guanxi-enabled trust: guanxi-enabled relational trust, calculative trust, and institutional trust. By combining these forms of trust, we generate a typology of seven guanxi-based governance mechanisms for knowledge transfer—“guanxi-hu,” “huibao,” “lun,” “gan-qing,” “jiao-qing,” “ren-qing,” and “mianzi.” We discuss the research and managerial implications of our findings.

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