Managerial Ties, Knowledge Acquisition, and Institutional Environment

Project: Research

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Managers cultivate interpersonal ties to facilitate inter-firm resource acquisition and collaboration. Managerial ties in China— both business ties (ties with partner firm managers) and political ties (ties with government officials)—help firms in various ways. A firm’s managerial ties reflect a micro-macro link in which personal connections serve as an alternate mechanism that complement weak market institutions and exert a powerful influence on firm outcomes.One unresolved puzzle is how managerial ties, a micro-level construct, contribute to performance, a macro-level phenomenon. Specifically, what benefits accrue from business and political ties? Does the institutional environment alter the impact of managerial ties on resource acquisition? How do the different types of resources obtained by the firm affect its performance?This research aims to address three theoretical gaps in the literature. First, a fine-grained approach to examining different types of managerial ties is critically needed. Business ties and political ties are fundamentally different and thus offer firms distinctly different resources. Drawing on a knowledge-based view, this study proposes that business ties are used quite differently from political ties in the acquisition of external knowledge. In addition, a firm’s institutional environment, as reflected in legal system ineffectiveness and official arbitrariness, moderates the impact of managerial ties on knowledge acquisition. Second, it is still unclear how firms utilize managerial ties to achieve desired outcomes. We propose that knowledge acquired through managerial ties—particularly knowledge depth and knowledge breadth—mediates the influence of managerial ties on performance. Third, prior research has mainly adopted a focal firm approach to investigating the role of managerial ties. We integrate the dyadic nature of managerial ties, looking at interactions between partners in a dyad.This study will examine dyadic supplier-distributor relationships in China. Chinese suppliers and distributors have deeply embedded interpersonal relationships, and firms rely on these managerial ties for external knowledge and resources. China’s changing market and evolving institutional environment provide an ideal context to examine our theories. We will collect dyadic survey data (i.e., from both suppliers and distributors in dyadic relationships) and additional secondary data to test the hypotheses.


Project number9042147
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/09/1414/02/18

    Research areas

  • Managerial ties,Relationship marketing,Institutional environment,Knowledge,