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Ameyaw, M.A.;  Sun, B.;  Antwi, S.;  Bentum-Micah, G.;  Ameyaw, J.E. Guanxi in a non-Chinese working environment. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 14 June 2024).
Ameyaw MA,  Sun B,  Antwi S,  Bentum-Micah G,  Ameyaw JE. Guanxi in a non-Chinese working environment. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 14, 2024.
Ameyaw, Moses Agyemang, Binghai Sun, Samuel Antwi, Geoffrey Bentum-Micah, Jonathan Edmund Ameyaw. "Guanxi in a non-Chinese working environment" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 14, 2024).
Ameyaw, M.A.,  Sun, B.,  Antwi, S.,  Bentum-Micah, G., & Ameyaw, J.E. (2022, July 06). Guanxi in a non-Chinese working environment. In Encyclopedia.
Ameyaw, Moses Agyemang, et al. "Guanxi in a non-Chinese working environment." Encyclopedia. Web. 06 July, 2022.
Guanxi in a non-Chinese working environment

 The primary objective was to find out the impact of GRX scale (ganqing, renqing, and xinren) on a non-Chinese working environment. Thus, to apply and ascertain the effect of the three dimensions of guanxi on employees’ engagement and, eventually, the job performance in an African working environment. The finding indicated that renqing, synonymous with mutual sharing or need for reciprocity, was highly significant with employee engagement and job performance. Hence, a win-win outcome is achieved whenever employers exhibit genuine concern and care for their employees. Additionally, there was a negative relationship between ganqing (emotional attachment) and employee engagement. It revealed that making decisions based on personal relationships will negatively affect employees’ engagement and job performance. 

ganqing renqing xinren employee engagement job performance

1. Introduction

No organization can exist in the absence of necessary and appropriate relationships. Indeed, as Confucius indicated, humans are relational beings, and our lives are interconnected by our relationships [1]. According to [2], the interaction between leaders and employees is regarded as the most critical relationship for employees. Thus, the leader’s ability to form an efficient relationship with employees or create an environment that induces expedient relationships will significantly impact the level of their engagement and performance. It is unsurprising that the supervisor-subordinate (SSG) relationship has garnered considerable attention in recent times [3].
Given the important role that leaders play in fostering employee engagement and performance, the following question is likely to arise: Why are some leaders better at engaging employees than others? Researchers such as [4][5] have conducted a number of studies in the field of personality and engagement that essentially provide an answer to this topic. According to other researchers [6][7], a leader’s ability to effectively handle the diverse relationships of an organization may be a contributing factor. Indeed, connecting the two (personality and ability to manage relationships) demonstrates how critical relationships are to the success of any organization. One of the best concepts for gaining a better understanding of workplace relationships is guanxi.
Similar to leader-member exchange (LMX), which explains the relationship between leaders and their subordinates from a western context, the concept of guanxi originates from China, and it is a more advanced version of LMX. Guanxi is exceptional in its attempt to keep amicable relationships even beyond the work premises [8]. Guanxi is associated with Confucianism because it argues that humans are relational beings who cannot be divorced from his or her relationships [8][9].
One of the main differences between LMX and guanxi is the limit of the relationship between supervisors and subordinates. In their research [8][10], they pointed out that LMX relationships are mostly limited to the workplace, but with guanxi, it exceeds the working environment—it even cuts across the family and friends of the parties involved [8][9]. Additionally, as indicated by [9][10], LMX is mainly relationship-biased (for the benefit of the organization), while guanxi is mostly relationship-oriented (seeks to benefit the individual beyond the organization).
Researchers [7][11] have paid considerable attention to work engagement, especially workplace relationships. Other researchers have highlighted that high levels of employee engagement can readily provide an organization with a competitive edge, particularly because such workers are positively engaged in their job [12][13]. Employee engagement is essential because it encourages and creates a ‘go the extra mile’ mindset [14]. This can help raise employee morale and urge them to be more responsive and proactive in their service delivery.
As revealed by [15], engaged employees ensure that they meet their job’s requirements and expectations. They exhibit these three key attributes: vigor, dedication, and absorption in the workplace [16]. The performance of employees is revealed when they are committed to their work and discharge their expected roles in line with the overall objective [17].
Though there is a lack of substantial research on guanxi and employee engagement, particularly on the working environment of non-Chinese, this research examines the three main dimensions of guanxi (GRX scale) in connection to employee engagement and job performance.
Regarding the influence of the GRX scale (ganqing, renqing, and xinren) and their impact on employee engagement and job performance, as far as the researchers are aware, this research is useful for ascertaining such relationships, especially among non-Chinese personnel. The focus of early researchers was on Chinese indigenes [1][18][19]. Others [20][21] also concentrated on the impact of guanxi as a whole but not necessarily the GRX scale.
One of the most dominant theories used in comprehending behavior at the workplace is Social Exchange Theory (SET). According to [22], the quality of exchange is dependent on the interaction between the supervisor and the subordinate. The positive interactions with management result in feelings of gratitude [22], create a sense of obligations [23], generate formidable goodwill [24], prompt the need to be helpful [25], and build trust among the parties involved [22].

2. Dimensions of Guanxi

There does not appear to be a single English word that adequately describes the term “guanxi”, but as explained by [19], guanxi refers to the connection or bond between familiar people within a group. [26] considers guanxi from three distinct perspectives:
First, guanxi refers to individuals who are connected to one another due to a shared personality or a shared status within a particular group. Second, it refers to the actual connections and constant communication that frequently occur between individuals. Finally, it provides an explanation for the indirect relationships that occur between others.
Guanxi is defined by [27] as the ties between two or more parties. Other researchers in [8] define guanxi as the pure and solid relationship between individuals that serves as a means to receive social, commercial, personal, or family benefits, as well as cooperatively working towards attaining an organization’s goals.
According to [28], guanxi is a three-dimensional construct comprised of ganqing, renqing, and xinren. It is referred to as the (GRX) scale of guanxi [28]. These main dimensions of guanxi primarily provide a comprehensive explanation of the concept.

3. Ganqing, Employee Engagement, and Job Performance

Ganqing’s primary function is to ascertain the degree of emotional attachment and empathy that exist between the parties involved [21]. Ganqing, therefore, elucidates the emotional aspect of guanxi. It expresses how people are emotionally connected, the positive mutual feelings that exist between them, and serves as a solid foundation for all sorts of social interaction. Ganqing makes it simple for people to collaborate and can serve as a glue that holds them together [1].
Ganqing occurs in the business arena when the individuals involved are viewed as business counterparts but also as friends. When individuals are treated like friends, they harness their different social interactions to benefit their professional connections. Thus, according to [8], such relationships act as a lubricant that reduces all forms of stress and friction, especially during times of conflict. Indeed, emotionally engaged individuals find any possible means to sustain their relationship [29].
There are various levels of ganqing, which indicate the degree of emotional connection between individuals. They are referred to as ‘Ganqing hao and Ganqing shen’ [28]. ‘Ganqing hao’ translates as ‘good ganqing’ (emotional attachment). It varies according to the setting. In the family setting, it demonstrates a strong family connection. In the friend setting, it demonstrates equality and strong friendship [30]. ‘Ganqing shen’ translates as ‘deep ganqing,’ this type of emotional attachment is frequently defined as a long-standing social relationship [21].
Ganqing, in its simplest form, refers to the level to which emotional connection, feeling, and understanding are mutually shared [30]. It is a critical indicator of guanxi; thus, it is inextricably linked to guanxi. Nonetheless, despite its critical significance, [31] mentioned that it is not limited to providing an autonomous understanding of guanxi; it will undoubtedly require all traits such as the exchange of favors and the requirement of trust.
When employees have a stronger ganqing and are actively involved at work, they become more focused, which helps them perform better on their assigned tasks [32]. Other researchers have demonstrated that work engagement is significantly associated with productivity and job performance, in part because engaged individuals are more connected to their work, more energetic and devoted, as well as willing to go the extra mile with their work [33][34].
Additionally, guanxi’s emotional connection and attachment make subordinates ‘feel more at ease’ at the workplace [25]. As a result, they readily follow their supervisor’s supervision and leadership—not out of obligation but out of affection. Emotions are believed to significantly influence the way people behave. When an individual is emotionally involved in anything, they tend to put aside other concerns so that they can devote all of their attention to the object to which they are emotionally attached. As the social exchange theory explains, amid mutual feelings and connection, individuals will likely give out their possible best in the workplace [25].

4. Renqing, Employee Engagement, and Job Performance

In English, renqing is synonymous with “owing a favor” or “reciprocating a favor.” Renqing occurs when special treatment, sharing of gifts, and other forms of transactions are exchanged to strengthen the connection between parties [35]. It frequently takes effect in one of two ways: either as a transaction or as an offer [25]. Renqing is fundamental for securing and deepening any social relationships. It acts as a link between many parties and is predicated on the key premise of mutual sharing to sustain the given relationship. Indeed, renqing is necessary for the Chinese setting, and its exchange strengthens the social connection between those involved [1].
There are diverse ways of showing renqing. Some may demand considerable effort, while others do not. However, the act of reciprocating a favor is extremely valuable. It could be as simple as lending a hand or going the extra mile in order to show favor [28]. It also includes presenting a gift as a mark of appreciation or strengthening a social bond, among other things. In the context of any given business transaction, renqing ensures that the parties involved have a balanced exchange of favor. This is because when an exchange becomes one-sided, it ceases to reflect renqing’s actual essence. However, it should be emphasized that the time period for returning a favor is not stringent. The recipient may wait until there is a high demand for the needed favor (especially during times of greatest need for the benefactor) [35]. Renqing has a number of beneficial impacts, including the strengthening of personal bonds [1], the development of mutual trust [8], and the formation of a commitment bond among the parties involved [36].
The practice of renqing fosters social reciprocity and empathy, which are manifested in the form of favors exchanged between individuals [18]. With this exchange, the people involved hope to form a bond that will keep them together in the future. As a result, repaying a favor is vital because renqing would be rendered obsolete without it.
The attitude and behavior of employees toward their work will be enhanced if supervisors believe in them and are knowledgeable in promoting guanxi in the workplace. Additionally, supervisors who are dedicated to their work will spur their subordinates to give their best. One common reason is that when subordinates perceive that their immediate supervisor exemplifies the type of behavior they expect and values them as such (treats them favorably), they feel respected and are more likely to give their all to their jobs [37].
As the theory of social exchange argues, employees are often inspired to reciprocate the leader’s behavior by replicating it and developing a greater level of trust in the leader. When a supervisor exhibits an openness to their subordinates’ needs, it encourages them to be more cooperative and involved at work in order to strengthen their guanxi with their supervisors and also increase their sense of belonging to the organization [32]. As a result of this improved sense of belonging, employees will perform at their very best in discharging their respective responsibilities at the workplace as well as be prepared to serve the organization’s best interests as and when the need arises. They will do so to express their gratitude for the preferential treatment they received from the established guanxi.


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