Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 108, Issue 3, pp 313-324

First online:

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

  • Yong HanAffiliated withDepartment of Economics and Management, Tongji UniversityGuangxi Institute of Public Administration
  • , Zhenglong PengAffiliated withDepartment of Economics and Management, Tongji University Email author 
  • , Yi ZhuAffiliated withCentre for International Education, Guangxi University of Finance and Economics

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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