Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Global and Sociocultural Studies

First Advisor's Name

Guillermo Grenier

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

A. Douglas Kincaid

Third Advisor's Name

Mary Ann Von Glinow

Date of Defense



Guanxi, loosely defined as "inter-personal relations" or "personal connections," is one of the key socio-cultural concepts in understanding Chinese society. This thesis presented a theoretical examination of the Chinese socio-cultural concept of guanxi. By using a broad survey of the available literature, this thesis established the following points: Social structures shape and define the development of guanxi practice in Chinese society. Guanxi relationships are based on the social exchange of gifts and favors in dyadic or multi-stranded social networks. While following the general rules of reciprocity found in social exchange, guanxi exchange is also governed by the internalized social norms such as mianzi (face) and renqing (humanized obligation underpinned by human sentiment). Guanxi relationships are also network-oriented, featuring ties based on familiarity and mutual trust, and characterized by an interplay between expressiveness and instrumentalism.




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