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How much does interpersonal guanxi matter to business performance? The mediating role of relationship learning in an emerging market context

Lilei Wang (School of Tourism, Hainan University, Haikou, China)
Yumei Dang (School of Tourism, Hainan University, Haikou, China)
Shufeng (Simon) Xiao (Division of Business Administration, Sookmyung Women’s University, Seoul, South Korea)
Xing'an Xu (School of Tourism, Hainan University, Haikou, China)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 20 December 2022

47

Abstract

Purpose

By adopting learning theory and a guanxi perspective, this study aims to investigate the effects of interpersonal guanxi (interpersonal networks or connections) and relationship learning on companies’ business performance when operating in a large emerging market.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a sample of 294 sales managers and salespeople in the Chinese hotel sector, the authors empirically test the authors' arguments through a structural equation modeling (SEM) approach.

Findings

The authors' findings indicate that strong interpersonal guanxi tends to generate more positive business performance. Furthermore, the authors find that relationship learning plays a mediating role in the association between interpersonal guanxi and hotel companies’ business performance in a Chinese context. Finally, the authors empirically explore the moderating effect of inter-firm dependence on the contribution of interpersonal guanxi to relationship learning. Findings demonstrate that this effect varies significantly based on inter-firm dependence, with interpersonal guanxi exhibiting a greater positive impact if such dependence is high.

Originality/value

This study enriches our understanding of interpersonal guanxi and of how companies can enhance the companies' business performance in an emerging market context.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was jointly funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No: 72162013), and the Hainan Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (No: 720QN245 and 722RC638).

Citation

Wang, L., Dang, Y., Xiao, S.(S). and Xu, X. (2022), "How much does interpersonal guanxi matter to business performance? The mediating role of relationship learning in an emerging market context", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOEM-01-2022-0175

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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