The roles of xinyong and guanxi in Chinese relationship marketing

T. K.P. Leung, Kee Hung Lai, Yee Kwong Chan, Y. H. Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

155 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - This study incorporates two Chinese cultural variables guanxi (personal relationship) and xinyong (personal trust) with other relational variables that are well defined in the west, i.e. supplier competence, commitment, conflict handling and satisfaction to see how they generate partnership relationship in a sino-western relationship marketing context. Design/methodology/approach - Research objectives are achieved through a combination of model building, quantitative design, testing of hypotheses using AMOS and analysis of findings. The subject scope is imbedded within cultural impact on relationship marketing in a sino-western context. Findings - This study finds that Western suppliers must be competent in product knowledge, market development, and adaptation to buyers' requirements to resolve conflicts in order to establish their xinyong with the buyers. Competence allows suppliers to show psychological commitment and establish guanxi with the buyers. It also shows that guanxi has a stronger influence on xinyong than on satisfaction. Suppliers should use guanxi to generate buyer's perception on xinyong whilst maintaining a reasonable level of buyer satisfaction with their products and services. Also, relationship between xinyong and satisfaction is not significant. A buyer's satisfaction on the supplier's product and services does not necessarily mean that this buyer perceives the supplier having xinyong because Chinese mix (up) business with personal relationships together and sometimes they make trade-off between them Research limitations/implications - This relationship study was conducted in a single-product relationship context within the clothing industry in the PRC environment and therefore, its findings may not be generalised to other industry. Future Chinese relationship study should increase the sample size so as to cover more industries to allow comparison across industries. This is especially valid between a manufacturing and a service-based industry. A service-based industry may even emphasize more on guanxi and xinyong because of its intangible aspects Future research should include the xinyong constructs, the concepts of face and reciprocity. To what extent these important Chinese cultural values affect satisfaction and xinyong have not been determined. Practical implications - Effective conflict handling skills and guanxi are vital to formulate a xinyong positioning strategy. A supplier must be competent in product knowledge, market development skills, and adapt to a buyer's requirements to resolve conflicts with the buyer to establish xinyong. Originality/value - This research is an initial attempt to establish the relationship between guanxi, xinyong and partnership relationship and generates a new research area in Chinese relationship marketing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-559
Number of pages32
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2005


  • China
  • Partnership
  • Relationship marketing
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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