The drawbacks of guanxi

Updated: 2013-06-13 08:18

(China Daily)

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A Chinese business student asked me recently about what I, as a Westerner and teacher in a business college, thought of the Chinese concept of guanxi. I told him that, at best, guanxi was what we call nepotism - favoring relatives and friends in business and jobs. Friends include classmates, schoolmates and even not-too-distant acquaintances.

From what I've observed first hand, guanxi pays little or no attention to the qualification, talent, education or the abilities of the individual who is shown favor.

I've seen people who have got employment through guanxi not doing any work all day long. Such examples are far more common than I expected them to be. Such people keep chatting on QQ, watching movies or shopping online. They are not productive for their business or employer.

In the West, we value talent, education, experience, ability and creativity. If a relative or someone we have "relations" with possesses the expertise and ability to do a job, I'm sure he/she would be considered for hiring. But if such a person gets a job and is not productive, then he/she can be fired with little or no hesitation.

Americans value profits and results. Perhaps that is why the US is seen as a rich country. Relations mean very little. Qualifications mean almost everything.

MichaelM, from China Daily blog

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