Harmonizing conflicting views about harmony in Chinese culture

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Book chapter

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Handbook of Chinese organizational behavior: Integrating theory, research and practice

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Edward Elgar


Since Hwang (1987) proposed his theoretical “model of Face and Favor”, many social psychologists have attempted to use it to understand the organizational behaviors in Chinese society. It is generally agreed that the concepts of guanxi and mianzi air fundamental) important in understanding social interactions in China They can be extended to study relationships between firms and government bodies Buckley et al. (2006) suggested that foreign investors in China must be aware of these key concepts and must use their knowledge to establish better institutional connections with locally owned partners and government Using these concepts to build trust lies at the heart of interactions with local stakeholders, including employees, local partners government.

Kim and Nam (1998) proposed face as a key variable that can explain much of the complexity of social interactions in Asian organizations They argued that scholars have to go beyond that individualistic assumption about human behavior implicit in theories of organizational behavior in the West to better understand the richness of organizational behavior in Asia In Asia, organizational behavior is better predicted by an individual’s external attributes, such as face, than internal attributes such as desires, emotions and cognition.

However, face has not gained general acceptance as an important theoretical concept in the literature on Asian organizational behavior and management. A few exceptions have tried to understand it in the global and multicultural context without going into the depths of local culture.

This chapter aims to explain the change of social exchange rule as well as face dynamism between two parties of dyad interaction when they have changed their relationship from one of an instrumental tie into one of a mixed tie by means of establishing guanxi or reinforcing guanxi. Because this chapter is a contribution to Handbook of' Chinese Organizational Behavior, and because organizational settings of various types are sites for Chinese to interact with foreigners in the age of globalization, this chapter will review previous literature to illustrate the implication of such change for contemporary Chinese organizational behaviors.



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Copyright © 2012 Edward Elgar. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

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ISBN of the source publication: 9780857933393

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Recommended Citation

Lun, V. M.-C. (2012). Harmonizing conflicting views about harmony in Chinese culture. In X. Huang & M. H. Bond (Eds.), Handbook of Chinese organizational behavior: Integrating theory, research and practice (pp.467-479). doi: 10.4337/9780857933409.00033