Guanxi as complex adaptive system : definition, description and underlying principles

Chang, Artemis, Guo, Carlin, Yang, Xiaohua, & Zolin, Roxanne (2014) Guanxi as complex adaptive system : definition, description and underlying principles. Journal of Asia Business Studies, 8(2), pp. 81-103.

View at publisher


Guanxi has become a common term in the wider business community and has attracted an increasing attention of researchers. However, a consistent understanding of the concept continues to be elusive. We critically review the extant guanxi literature to identify the major inconsistencies in the way guanxi is currently conceptualized and develop a conceptualization of guanxi which views guanxi as a complex adaptive system formed by the strategic establishing, evolving, utilizing, and maintaining of personal relationships based upon social norms of trust and reciprocal obligation unique to the Chinese culture. This study contributes to research of guanxi and to the field of Chinese management in several ways. First, we identify four levels of inconsistency surrounding the conceptualization of guanxi in the literature, thus clarifying the current common sources of confusion. Second, this study deconstructs the level and core values of guanxi to provide a more transparent picture, enabling researchers to develop more robust measures of guanxi. Finally, we made progress towards a more comprehensive understanding of guanxi by introducing the complex adaptive system perspective into the guanxi research.

Impact and interest:

1 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

80 since deposited on 03 Oct 2013
57 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 63106
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Guanxi, Social Network, Social Capital, China, Complex Adaptive System
DOI: 10.1108/JABS-12-2012-0058
ISSN: 1558-7894
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > International Business (150308)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Emerald Group Publishing Inc
Copyright Statement: This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Deposited On: 03 Oct 2013 23:22
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2015 23:27

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page