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Author Topic: Guanxi -- so five minutes ago.  (Read 2410 times)

Calach Pfeffer

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Guanxi -- so five minutes ago.
« on: March 17, 2010, 03:51:59 AM »
"[W]e often hear that because of their culture, the Chinese prefer to cultivate personal relationships (guanxi) first.  This is not entirely true because in the absence of a strong and credible legal and regulatory regime in China, investing in personal relationships up front may quite simply be the initial cost one has to pay if interested in eventually doing business together.  Such investment in personal relationships is a must in countries ranging from Argentina to Zimbabwe.  The broad range of these countries with different cultural traditions suggests that the interest in cultivating what the Chinese call guanxi, which is a word found in almost every culture (such as blat in Russia and guan he in Vietnam), is not likely to be driven by culture alone but, more significantly, by common institutional characteristics--in particular, the lack of formal market-supporting institutions."

Global Business-2009 Update., MW. Peng.


In your face, China!  You were making it up all along!?!

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Foscolo

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Re: Guanxi -- so five minutes ago.
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2010, 04:42:51 PM »
The nearest single-word term I can think of in English is the US colloquialism "juice", as in "Dat bro sho gotta lotta juice in da hood" and similar nonesense that people like me pick up from watching US TV cops show, but is probably not how anybody real actually speaks.
Free stuff for teaching English with jokes: ESLjokes.net.

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Guanxi -- so five minutes ago.
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2010, 12:32:57 AM »
Perhaps not very ironically, The Pengster has chosen two high context culture countries--Russia and Vietnam--to claim "guanxi" exists in every language.  If his point is to hold, that "guanxi" is everywhere, man, and normal, then for say English we'd be expecting not a single suitable word but a paragraph that generically describes Chinese guanxi to which English speakers end up saying "yeah, we do that".



Guanxi, pffft!  It's just the normal gatekeeping of worried, distrustful slow learners who, unfortunately but perhaps rightly, also distrust nearly every currently extant non-cultural institution. 

Developing beyond perpetual teenagerhood--most developed developing nation status--will coincide with the dying off of guanxi.

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kitano

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Re: Guanxi -- so five minutes ago.
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2010, 12:39:03 AM »
there are things like the old boys network in england. and i think every country has this to some degree where you prefer to help people out who you know. but i have heard stories in china that would not happen in england i think. i'd guesss that one of the reasons there is so much substandard stuff made in china is connected to this because guanxi means buying inferior materials from a friend etc

rollerboogie

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Re: Guanxi -- so five minutes ago.
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2010, 08:47:19 AM »
Hello. I'm late to this topic, but guanxi is little more than cronyism and nepotism rolled into a pair of Chinese hanzi. That's how I view it.

James the Brit

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Re: Guanxi -- so five minutes ago.
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2010, 07:54:08 AM »
I also think it exists in other countries such as France and the UK.

Although it is starting to disappear for government positions, in the UK. unfortunately...

Calach Pfeffer

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Re: Guanxi -- so five minutes ago.
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2010, 09:17:40 AM »
I read a benign-sounded characterisation of guanxi the other day, in Charlie Hill's International Business:

Guanxi literally means relationships, although in business settings it can be better understood as connections.  Guanxi has its roots in the Confucian philosophy of valuing social hierarchy and reciprocal obligations.  Confucian ideology has a 2,000-years-old history in China.  Confucianism stresses the importance of relationships, both within the family and between master and servant.  Confucian ideology teaches that people are not created equal.  In Confucian thought, loyalty and obligations to one's superiors (or to family) is regarded as a sacred duty, but at the same time, this loyalty has its price.  Social superiors are obligated to reward the loyalty of their social inferiors by bestowing "blessings" upon them; thus, the obligations are reciprocal.

Today, Chinese will often cultivate a
guanxiwang, or "relationship network", for help.  Reciprocal obligations are the glue that holds such networks together.  If those obligations are not met--if favours done are not paid back or reciprocated--the reputation of the transgressor is tarnished, and he or she will be less able to draw on his or her guanxiwang for help in the future. [...] In a society that lacks a strong rule-based legal tradition, and thus legal ways of redressing wrongs such as violations of business agreements, guanxi is an important mechanism for building long-term business relationships and getting business done in China.  According to tacit acknowledgment, if you have the right guanxi, legal rules can be broken, or at least bent.

One thing I think causes puzzlement over guanxi is it's hard to know if there is anyone left alive who actually does it well.  Oh sure, there's lots of people building networks and doing favours, but how many of them are actually adept at social obligations?  If anybody ever was any good at the being a model Kongzi in the past, you gotta assume they were probably knocked on the head some time in the last fifty years, and what're "we" left with...?

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