Understanding Chinese business practices and relationships has become increasingly important for international firms. One of the common threads for international firms is the importance of a special relational aspect of Chinese markets, called guanxi. The impact of guanxi on value chain management is under-researched but increasingly gaining attention. This paper takes a more novel approach by reviewing guanxi in terms of its institutional rather than simply its often-cited cultural implications. It adopts and adapts the ecocultural framework of John Berry and incorporates Robert Trivers theory of reciprocal altruism in an attempt to shed light on the practice of guanxi in eight Chinese related polities. The eight polities are investigated using a qualitative methodology. The design of the study incorporates two phases with focus groups and an online survey. The study acknowledges that the institution of guanxi has important implications for all polities researched but it remains an essential and powerful force in the mainland Chinese polities of Shanghai and Beijing. Subsequently, the relational dynamic of guanxi remains an essential element in value chain management in Chinese contexts, particularly for chains operating on the mainland. As the paper also contends, this has important implications for both Chinese and Western firms.
International Journal of Value Chain Management Vol. 3, Issue 4, p. 356-373