The dynamics of Guanxi and ethics for Chinese executives

Yee Kwong Chan, Tsz Wan Cheng, Ricky W.F. Szeto

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


This study empirically examines how Chinese executives perceive the role of guanxi and ethics played in their business operations. By factor-analyzing 850 valid replies collected from a comprehensive survey, the present study identifies three distinct ethics-related attitudes and two distinct guanxi-related attitudes for Chinese executives. The cluster analysis of the composite scores of these five attitudinal factors further indicates the existence of three distinct groups of Chinese executives that vary in their ethics and guanxi orientations. The three groups are unethical profit seeker (UPS), anti-governance, guanxi-cultivator (AGGC), and apathetic executive (AE). The three groups are also found to be significantly different in such demographic characteristics as age and the ownership structure of the serving organization. Specifically, the inter-group comparison suggests that younger Chinese executives, and those working for privately-owned firms and joint ventures are more inclined to engage in unethical activities for profits. These findings provide useful insights for international investors to formulate their human resource and negotiation strategies in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-336
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2002


  • Chinese executives
  • Ethics
  • Guanxi
  • Relationship marketing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


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