The Effects of Boundary Spanners’ Personal Relationships on Interfirm Collaboration and Conflict : A Study of the Role of Guanxi in China

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-40
Journal / PublicationJournal of Supply Chain Management
Issue number3
Online published17 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


This research studies a unique type of personal relationship between boundary spanners, namely guanxi (connection), in China. We maintain that such guanxi involves interpersonal ganqing (emotional attachment) and two elements of exchange of favor between organizations: information favor and business support. We empirically test our model in the context of a cellular phone distribution network, which consists of one major Chinese cellular phone manufacturer and its 277 independent retailers. Our results show that environmental dynamism and interdependence significantly affect the frequency of boundary spanners’ interactions and the development of interpersonal ganqing between them, which subsequently influences interfirm favor exchanges and then interfirm conflicts. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.

Research Area(s)

  • boundary spanner, China, collaboration, conflict, dependence, dynamism, ganqing, guanxi, resource dependence theory, transaction cost theory

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