Reconceptualizing and Redirecting Research on Guanxi: ‘Guan-Xi’ Interaction to Form a Multicolored Chinese Knot

Peter Ping Li, Steven Shijin Zhou, Abby Jingzi Zhou, Zhangbo Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

181 Downloads (Pure)


Guanxi is one of the most popular topics in Chinese and Western scholarship concerning social ties in China. However, several problems in research on guanxi persist, and multiple debates are still ongoing without much consensus in sight. This study has two goals. First, we offer a systematic review of the current literature on guanxi, especially by differentiating guan dyads from xi networks. This reconceptualization of guanxi enables us to clarify the concept of guanxi by differentiating its two dimensions. Second, based on this literature review, we propose a redirection of future research on guanxi such that guan dyads and xi networks are not examined in isolation; rather, their holistic and dynamic interaction is the most fruitful avenue for future research, especially the four mechanisms of their interaction. The proposed reconceptualization and redirection are our two contributions to the literature.
Original languageEnglish
JournalManagement and Organization Review
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)643-677
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019


  • Guanxi
  • Guan dyad
  • Guan-xi interaction
  • Multicolor Chinese knot
  • Xi network

Cite this