Guanxi – Learning something very useful from Chinese culture?

by smartamarketing

A word about which is probably the most known Chinese word in the business sphere,  ‘guanxi’.  Anhd how you might use the concept, not only in International Marketing, but in Western business – as a strategy.  It will fit in very well with relationship building I think


This word merges a lot of ‘social rules’. From the western point of view, it has been usually understood such as some kind of corruption. Of course it could be, but ‘guanxi’ not only means ‘give a favour back’ but also means some kind of mutual help. The Chinese societies, including those who are living abroad,  have been using ‘guanxi’ for starting their businesses for centuries. The Chinese people’s guanxi is related to their social relationships, and they spend a lot of time in order to improve their ‘guanxi’, and it’s not only about their professional sphere but also about their personal one.


Making things happen ‘step by step’ is also related to their social relationships and their personal ‘guanxi’. You know, ‘guanxi’ is a really wide concept and condensing this word just such as a kind of corruption is a miscalculation. Western cultures usually think that our lifetime is linear, Eastern cultures think that their lifetime is circular; it’s a holistic point of view. It could sounds like an ‘easy philosophy’, but it’s much more besides this, it’s a whole way of living and way of thinking, where everything is related to one each other, where you are not always allowed to do a borderline between your personal life and your professional life, where the ‘harmony’ rules everything and where the Chinese history comes into play. It also happens in our western cultures, it’s not only property of the Chinese culture, but going into this culture usually means start from scratch because our cultural bases are completely different.
Chinese culture is worth to knowing, they are borrowing many things from our western cultures and they are adapting them in order to make them match to their reserved culture. Maybe we should do this as well. Learning a different way of living can offer a totally new way of working.

Interested?  You might want to check out the new Doing Business in Asia group on LinkedIn