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Brand outcomes in sales channel relationships: a guanxi theory perspective

Weidong Rong (SUNY Brockport, Brockport, New York, USA)
Mark J. Arnold (Department of Marketing, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA)
Brad D. Carlson (Department of Marketing, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 30 December 2020

Issue publication date: 27 July 2021




Guanxi is the foundation of business success in Chinese and other Eastern cultures, but little is known about the extent to which guanxi influences brand outcomes in channel relationships. The purpose of this study is to propose a novel theoretical framework of interpersonal and interorganizational guanxi relationships in a sales channel context and how these relationships influence brand outcomes.


The authors conceptualize, develop and validate new scales measuring interpersonal and interorganizational guanxi and test the proposed model with a field study to validate the effects of guanxi on brand loyalty. The causal relationships between interpersonal guanxi and brand attitudes and affect are confirmed in a separate field experiment.


Findings show that interpersonal guanxi is antecedent to interorganizational guanxi, and these two constructs have significant and differential direct and indirect effects on brand attitudes, brand affect and brand loyalty.


New multidimensional scales measuring both interpersonal and interorganizational guanxi were developed. Both interpersonal and interorganizational guanxi are conceptualized as second-order reflective constructs measured by the reflective first-order guanxi elements of personal and firm trust, personal and firm long-term orientation, xinyong (integrity), reciprocity, interaction and face.



Rong, W., Arnold, M.J. and Carlson, B.D. (2021), "Brand outcomes in sales channel relationships: a guanxi theory perspective", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 7, pp. 1191-1212.



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