Relationship Management in Chinese Culture: Guanxi (关系)

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Gordon Lu
Consultant, Canada

Relationship Management in Chinese Culture: Guanxi (关系)

The Chinese are acclaimed to be the masters of building Guanxi (关系) (it means "connections" or "relationships" in Chinese), sometimes by ourselves, unfortunately there is an obvious misunderstanding of the concept in Chinese culture and society.

As its Pinyin is becoming more popular in English language instead of any other translations such as "relationships" or "connections", we can see how widely and fiercely Guanxi is expanding its cultural, social and (mostly) commercial implications and influences beyond its Chinese cultural territory.

The core concept of Guanxi in Chinese is "a personal connection between two people or a group of people (a network) in which one is able to prevail upon another to perform a favor or service, or be prevailed upon."

As an art of social relationship, Guanxi has generally formed the basis of Chinese social value structure. When it goes to the business reign, unfortunately, it often violates bureaucratic norms and leads to corruption. Such negative aspects will no doubt impair its great charm as a social art.

Thankfully, while the research of relationship in the western is learning from the oriental wisdom, the science of relationship will definitely have a positive influence on this Chinese social art.


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