Dealing with Guanxi and Mianzi : Challening the Traditional Unifying Approach towards Culture

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi; Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi; Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi


This paper will display a comparative analysis on how one culture is viewed, differently and similarly, by two other cultures, and how such perceptions impact on cross-cultural management. Hofstede’s (1980) studies on culture dimensions are incorporated substan-tially in the research, nevertheless, his assumption that culture is apprehended universal-ly will be refuted. The contribution of this research is that it is based on the presump-tion that culture will be viewed divergently by people of different cultural backgrounds, by employing a triangular comparison among three countries; Sweden, Australia and China.Whilst working in China, expatriates will encounter Chinese social values of guanxi and mianzi, which are terms well imprinted within the Chinese culture. Guanxi deals with how people in China establish, handle and maintain interpersonal relationships. Mianzi is a term for describing how Chinese preserve their pride and honour in social situa-tions. The concepts will be employed when conducting the comparisons of Australian and Swedish expatriate managers’ interpretations on the two respectively. Findings were qualitatively collected by interviewing expatriates from Australia and Sweden, to-gether with the theoretical framework, combined in a triangular analysis. It was con-cluded that the young Australian entrepreneurs scrutinized guanxi and mianzi in a more critical manner in comparison to the elder Swedish managers, who had a more neutral approach towards the Chinese social values.

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