Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 108, Issue 3, pp 313–324

Supervisor–Subordinate Guanxi and Trust in Supervisor: A Qualitative Inquiry in the People’s Republic of China


  • Yong Han
    • Department of Economics and ManagementTongji University
    • Guangxi Institute of Public Administration
    • Department of Economics and ManagementTongji University
  • Yi Zhu
    • Centre for International EducationGuangxi University of Finance and Economics

DOI: 10.1007/s10551-011-1092-6

Cite this article as:
Han, Y., Peng, Z. & Zhu, Y. J Bus Ethics (2012) 108: 313. doi:10.1007/s10551-011-1092-6


In the People’s Republic of China (PRC), we investigated the relationships between supervisor–subordinate guanxi and trust in supervisor in firms with different types of ownership from both supervisor and subordinate’s sides. Utilising a qualitative approach, the findings of this study showed there was a direct relationship of superior–subordinate guanxi on trust in supervisor. The findings were discussed in the theoretical context of—social exchange theory, social identity theory and the theory of reasoned action as the theoretical foundations on the relationships between superior–subordinate guanxi and trust in supervisor.


Supervisor–subordinate guanxi Trust in supervisor China

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011