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Why do Chinese employees engage in building supervisor-subordinate guanxi? A planned behavior perspective

Han Ren (Business School, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China)
Charles Weizheng Chen (Business School, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China)

Chinese Management Studies

ISSN: 1750-614X

Article publication date: 24 January 2018

Issue publication date: 22 March 2018

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore why some Chinese subordinates will engage in building guanxi with their supervisor while others will not. The authors conceptualize subordinates’ initiative behaviors which aim at building up or improving guanxi with their supervisors through social interactions as supervisor–subordinate guanxi (SSG)-building behaviors. Guided by the theory of planned behavior (TPB), this study examines how three psychological antecedents (guanxi orientation as attitude, individual perception of group-level guanxi practice as subjective norm and person–supervisor [P-S] fit perception as perceived control) independently and interactively predict subordinates’ SSG-building behaviors.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors used a sample of 162 supervisor–subordinate dyads from four enterprises located in Southwest China.

Findings

Results indicated that P-S fit perception is most strongly related to subordinates’ SSG-building behaviors, followed by guanxi orientation and individual perception of group-level guanxi practice perception. Guanxi orientation is also found to strengthen the positive effect of P-S fit perception on subordinates’ SSG-building behaviors.

Originality/value

The authors’ findings shed light on the psychological mechanisms of Chinese subordinates’ behaviors to build up or improve guanxi with their supervisors, and advance the current understanding of SSG development from a planned behavioral perspective.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number 71272210). No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

Citation

Ren, H. and Chen, C.W. (2018), "Why do Chinese employees engage in building supervisor-subordinate guanxi? A planned behavior perspective", Chinese Management Studies, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 148-163. https://doi.org/10.1108/CMS-07-2017-0203

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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