Handbook of Institutional Approaches to International Business
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Handbook of Institutional Approaches to International Business

Edited by Geoffrey Wood and Mehmet Demirbag

Expertly written by leading scholars from a range of different starting points, this compendium presents a synthesis of recent work relating to institutionally-informed accounts from transitional and emerging markets, as well as from mature economies. It specifically focuses on the linkage between institutions and what goes on inside firms, and the relationship between setting, strategic choice and systemic outcomes.
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Chapter 21: Exploring Western and Chinese Business Relationship Paradigms

Dorothy A. Yen and Bradley R. Barnes


Dorothy A. Yen and Bradley R. Barnes 21.1 INTRODUCTION Along with globalization and rapid economic growth in the Far East, international buyer–seller relationships involving Western and Eastern counterparts are increasing in importance in both academic and practitioner discourse. This chapter aims to provide a comparative overview relating to the Western literature on business relationships and the Chinese notion of guanxi, translated as ‘relationships’ and ‘connections’ (Luo 1997a; Seligman 1999). Specifically, this chapter will compare Western theories on buyer–supplier relationships with the Chinese guanxi paradigm by highlighting their differences and similarities. The chapter will help to identify some gaps within the current literature so that future frameworks can be built for further examination on cross-cultural business relationships. In order to provide an in-depth discussion on the similarities and differences between the Western and Chinese literature, this chapter begins by providing a general overview on Western buyer–supplier relationships and the Chinese guanxi theory. Then, the two relationship paradigms will be compared in terms of their origins, concepts and area of focus. A discussion will follow, outlining some of the key constructs that are used in Western and Chinese literature. Finally, a brief conclusion will be presented to summarize our discussion and highlight further research that may be of interest to you and other readers. 21.2 WESTERN RELATIONSHIPS Much of the early research on Western buyer–seller relationships tended to originate from North America and Europe. In Europe, the literature dates back to the early 1970s, when a group of...

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