guanxi, clans and employment in china

**update: see addional material added below.**

below are a couple of tables from Rural China: Economic And Social Change In The Late Twentieth Century (see previous post) that i thought were awfully interesting. recall that the authors of Rural China conducted surveys in seven townships (zhen) in china over the course of ten years. here they asked workers what sort of relationship they had to the management of wherever they happened to work (click on image for LARGER, not-so-fuzzy view):

“good relationship in general” = guanxi, according to the authors. that’s a lotta workers (57.6%) being hired in part/fully because they’ve got some guanxi with the management!

also note the high numbers of kin/fellow clan members (15.2%) being hired by kin/fellow clan members. that’s either a lot of family businesses and/or just the hiring of a lot of family members (and/or something else i haven’t thought of?).

zongshizhuang, jinji and xinzhou have the highest rates of kin/clan hirings: 24.8%, 22.5% and 24.8% respectively. pingle also has a pretty high rate at 16.2%.

it’s perhaps not so surprising that jinji has such high rates since ningxia province (in which jinji is located) is the home of the hui people (see below) who are muslim and who have moderately high (2.9-11.2%) consanguinieous marriage rates [see pg. 3 here – opens pdf] — not to mention the fact that presumably they marry endogamously (i.e. within the hui population) in general and have done for quite some time.

thirty-seven percent (37%) of guizhou (where xinzhou is located) consists of small groups such as hill-tribes and the like. some of these groups also have high consanguineous marriage rates — and are also obviously very endogamous — such as the yizu with a consang rate of between 12.7-14.6% [pg. 3 – opens pdf].

pingle is in western sichuan, where there are perhaps greater numbers of tibetans and other minority groups. i’m not 100% sure about that. nor do i have any idea what the traditional mating patterns of tibetans are like.

zongshizhuang, in hebei province, is less understanable, though, since most of the population is han chinese. you’d think zongshizhuang would have kin/clan hiring rates similar to the other han chinese regions of china in the survey (dongting and yuquan for example) unless the three percent of manchurians living there makes a difference, but that’s hard to see why.

interestingly, the locales with the lowest kin/clan hirings — dongting, yuquan and xiangyang — have the highest guanxi hirings: 68.3%, 78.4% and 71.8% respectively.
_____

here are the locations of each of the zhen surveyed:

– dongting: southern jiangsu province.
– zongshizhuang: hebei province.
– jinji: ningxia province (where the muslim hui people live).
– pingle: western sichuan province.
– xinzhou: guizhou province.
– yuquan: heilongjiang province (manchu territory).
– xiangyang: eastern sichuan province.
_____

**update: here’s a quote from Rural China that i wanted to include in this post, but i couldn’t get access to it on google books earlier (passing the witching hour seems to have helped for some reason! (~_^) ). it’s the couple of paragraphs that go along with the two charts above [pgs. 250-251]:

“Only 5 percent of respondents to this question argued that they had no particular relationship to the management; 54.7 percent had guanxi in some other way or other; almost one-third were related to individuals in the management, were on friendly terms with them, or came from the same geographical area. In better-developed regions the percertage of those without personal relationships with the management was much higher than in other places. Obviously, better economic development seems to reduce the importance of guanxi structures as far as employment is concerned, which is why in Dongting, Yuquan, and Xiangyang relatives were of less importance than in other locations (see Table 9.11).

“In Zongshizhuang (66.6 percent), Pingle (41.8 percent), and Jinji (40.0 percent) employment was realized by means of relations, friendship, and geographical origin. Correlations have shown that the percentage of those with guanxi to the management increased with employee age: 6.1 percent of the individuals below twenty-five years were without such relationships, but 1.3 percent of the individuals over forty-five enjoyed thm. The same applied to the realtionships of friendship and locality. As far as the educational level was concerned, the group of university graduates was remarkable: 11.1 percent had no relationship to the management. That is easily explained. Rural enterprises urgently need specialists and are willing to employ them without relationships.”

previously: the return of chinese clans and china today…

(note: comments do not require an email. tired!)

3 Comments

  1. “Good relationship in general” translates as guanxi? Guanxi can mean anything from a corrupt client-patron relationships (between the Party and the State and the private sector so-called) to a friendly word-of-mouth about a job opening at the local plant.

    I wonder what our guanxi rate would be if we included the latter? Pretty high, I expect.

    Also, wouldn’t interviewee’s be stupid to say they do not have a good relationship with management in general, whether or not it were true.

    Still this book looks fascinating. I wish I could get it.

    Reply

  2. @luke – Guanxi can mean anything from a corrupt client-patron relationships (between the Party and the State and the private sector so-called) to a friendly word-of-mouth about a job opening at the local plant.

    the authors define guanxi as “the local net of relationships” (pg. 158) or “very good connections” (pg. 112) and they very often refer to “guanxi relationships,” so i think it’s rather more than just a friendly word-of-mouth reference. they mean that the individuals in question are in a relationship in which favors, and favors returned, are very much expected.

    @luke – “I wonder what our guanxi rate would be….”

    i wonder that, too! i mean clearly, in the west, we have old-boys’ networks and such. i have a hard time believing that hiring practices of employees depend soooo much on such connections in the west, though, as they seem to in china.

    @luke – “Also, wouldn’t interviewee’s be stupid to say they do not have a good relationship with management in general, whether or not it were true.”

    no, no — i’m sure the question in chinese referred to guanxi. the authors’ just kindly translated that concept into “good relationship in general” just to confuse us. (~_^)

    btw — see the update i added to the post. and, then, don’t ask me why the guanxi percentage in the text differs from that on the chart (close, but no cigar!). i’m assuming one of them (the one in the text?) is a typo.

    Reply

  3. from the text: “Obviously, better economic development seems to reduce the importance of guanxi structures as far as employment is concerned, which is why in Dongting, Yuquan, and Xiangyang relatives were of less importance than in other locations.”

    or vice versa (that would be my guess!).

    also from the text: “Correlations have shown that the percentage of those with guanxi to the management increased with employee age….”

    progress? hope so!

    Reply

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