Guanxi Perception and Gao Guanxi: Key Predictors of Communication Preferences, Relationship Cultivation Strategies, and Business Relationship Quality among the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Hong Kong

Main Article Content

Olivine Wai-Yu Lo

Abstract

The unique relationship between Hong Kong and China is not only reflected in the political, social, and cultural arenas, the business interactions still provides the most distinctive platform for related research. In the Chinese society, guanxi is considered a uniquely Chinese cultural characteristic and an essential resource for linking and maintaining an individual in a group or social network. Guanxi has been broadly translated as ‘interpersonal relationship’ or ‘connection’ and is also perceived as the foremost factor for successful business in China. Previous studies claim that effective guanxi can enhance business performance by building long-term competitive standing and help reducing risk, frustration, and disappointment. However, there are little known on how guanxi is built, via different communication formats. Thus, this study aims to explore the following four areas through studying the entrepreneurs of Hong Kong SMEs: (1) the impact of guanxi perception on communication preferences and (2) the adoption of various relationship cultivation strategies (routine and strategic strategies), (3) the associations between relationship strategies and communication preferences, and (4) these three factors on the business relationship quality. A total of 2,271 SMEs were successfully contacted and 984 agreed to participate in the survey with 323 returning the questionnaire. The study found that the Hong Kong SMEs still have strong guanxi perception which significantly affect their communication preferences when interacting with their mainland Chinese counterparts. They mostly prefer cross-border face-to-face meetings despite additional traveling time and cost, and sending SMS instead of using the newer mobile messengers like WeChat. Their guanxi perception also affects their adoption of the six relationship cultivation strategies and which strategic gao guanxi strategy and routine assurance strategy are the strongest predictors in achieving quality relationships. This study also found that different mixtures of communication preferences and relationship cultivation strategies will result in different relationship qualities.

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Author Biography

Olivine Wai-Yu Lo, Hong Kong Shue Yan University

Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism and Communication, Hong Kong Shue Yan University

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