Sponsorship as a Double-Edged Sword : Political Contingency and Mobility Dynamics in the Chinese Bureaucracy

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number102847
Journal / PublicationSocial Science Research
Online published19 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


This article develops a theoretical model on the role of sponsorship in organizations as a doubleedged sword. We highlight the political nature of sponsorship that is entrenched in formal authority relations, as it signals employee allegiance and affects career advancement through strategic appointments. We further distinguish the effect of sponsorship from that of sponsorship loss, highlighting the precariousness of sponsorship contingency in the face of leadership successions. The negative effect of sponsorship loss is mitigated by diverse networks, however, which dilute the loyalty affiliation to a particular sponsor and provide “robust action.” The theoretical model is empirically tested in a study of mobility patterns in a large, multi-layered Chinese bureaucracy of over 32,000 officials during a 19-year period, from 1990 to 2008.

Research Area(s)

  • Sponsorship, Political connection, Career mobility, Chinese bureaucracy