Dr Barbara Wang (right) answering about Guanxi in Chinese culture

A new book of China West cross-culture leadership and business management was launched on Tuesday. The title of ‘Guanxi in the Western Context: Intra-Firm Group Dynamics and Expatriate Adjustment’ were very interesting by readers from Chinese and British business communities through the launch event.

The book writer Dr Barbara Wang, a full-time professor at Hult Ashridge Executive Education introduced this book elaborates on the contextualisation of guanxi to highlight how guanxi emerged, evolved, and subsequently dominated the business system in China

Guanxi is pervasive in Chinese culture, spanning personal and work dimensions in contrast to Western relationships that are typically either personal or work-related. They are in long-lasting and less focused on short-term reciprocity. Yet, they are in many ways transactional. This
complexity makes guanxi difficult for many Westerners to understand and practice effectively with Chinese counterparts

After five years of studying Chinese companies in the globalisation of Western markets since 2005, Dr Wang discovered the how senior executive practise guanxi compares with social network in traditional method. Her book contributes more generally to shed light on cross-cultural management in terms of Chinese guanxi practice in the Western context. She told media when she started her studying she made assumptions that all Chinese executives practise guanxi. However, she found that Chinese expats don’t practise guanxi with local Chinese for complex reasons as they don’t believe they can reap the returns they need.

She recommends that if Chinese companies want to improve their soft power they should take steps to study cross-cultural programmes and become localization. They should do their homework and understand and adapt to the local culture and be open to including everyone in guanxi, which will enhance their global cultural influence. Therefore guanxi could more efficient bridging Chinese culture to approach Western culture.

Professor Davide Ravasi, director of the PhD Programme at UCL School of Management, comments, “From research in international business we know a lot about Western multinationals, but we know much less about the up and coming multinationals from China. Yet, many of these multinationals will likely dominate global markets in the years to come. Barbara Wang’s work illuminates for the first time how guanxi – a form of social interaction unique to the Chinese culture – shapes social relations in Western branches of these multinationals. It is an important reading for both Western managers who seek a deeper understanding of how their Chinese counterparts operate, and Chinese managers who want to increase their awareness of the culture they are immersed in.”

Professor John Yang, co-Dean of BiMBA at the National School of Development, Beijing University, adds, “Barbara Wang’s new book on guanxi is full of insights and wisdom critical for both Western and Chinese expatriates as well as Chinese professionals overseas. The book not only contributes to making successful global business deals but also provides better cross-cultural perspectives to develop a healthier China versus world business relationship.”

Diana Choyleva, Chief Economist of Enodo Economics comments, “For anyone who want to understand China, this is an indispensable book, examining the role of guanxi within Chinese firms going global. Barbara Wang offers a unique blend of humility and deeply rooted culture belonging and pride that allows her to openly explore how guanxi shapes the behaviour of Chinese abroad.”

Editor: Micheal Brown