The Guanxi Economic Model in China: Comparative Analysis

Author: Dmitry GRAFOV

Abstract. This article is devoted to analyzing the motivations of participants in informal relations known in China as guanxi. The author comes to the conclusion that it is the economic motive that is dominant in uniting participants in chains and groups, in which private interest is satisfied through collective actions by the redistribution of public or corporate resources.

Keywords: China, informal ties, guanxi group interests, supervisor -subordinate relations.

The studies of guanxi informal relations widespread in China are dominated by a psychological approach, which makes it possible to describe the outward manifestations of these relations. However, it does not disclose the inner causative-consecutive ties, suggesting to regard guanxi as a cultural phenomenon based on tradition, the Chinese model of the family and the Confucian principles. The economic approach enables us to view guanxi relations as a system of collective loyalty of subordinates toward the leader, which is based on a balance of material and nonmaterial interests. Economic approach makes it possible to explain why guanxi relations are formed, how they develop and break. All immanent features of guanxi - trust, reciprocity, obligations, governance, which were psychologically explained by tradition, are coming out as "organic rationality" in the model of the "economic man."

Literally, the word guanxi translated into Russian means svyaz' "connection." From the sociological point of view, persons who entered into guanxi relations represent a closed or an open group (network) in which they are connected by common interests and observe definite rules of behavior. The striving for organization in groups has historically been inherent in man and is due to the need to more effectively procure and distribute various benefits. The guanxi rela-

Dmitry B. Grafov, Ph.D. (Politics), senior research associate, RAS Institute of Oriental Studies. E-mail:

DOI: 10.31857/S013128120001143-8

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tions are also connected with providing preferences to those who are members of these groups. Among them are posts, incomes, ...

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