Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 117, Issue 3, pp 541-551

First online:

Workplace Guanxi: Its Dispositional Antecedents and Mediating Role in the Affectivity–Job Satisfaction Relationship

  • Qingguo ZhaiAffiliated withThe Business School, University of Ballarat Email author 
  • , Margaret LindorffAffiliated withManagement Department, Monash University
  • , Brian CooperAffiliated withManagement Department, Monash University

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This paper examines dispositional sources of workplace guanxi and the mediating role of workplace guanxi on the affectivity and job satisfaction relationship. Data were collected from 808 respondents in multiple industries in a city in China’s northeast. The study found that both positive affectivity and negative affectivity have an effect on supervisor–subordinate guanxi and co-worker guanxi, which supports the proposition that workplace guanxi has a dispositional source. Supervisor–subordinate guanxi has a positive relationship with job satisfaction, although co-worker guanxi is not significantly related to job satisfaction. The research also found a mediating role of supervisor–subordinate guanxi on the affectivity and job satisfaction relationship, which suggests that supervisor–subordinate guanxi can extend the influence of affectivity to job satisfaction. Taken together, these results suggest that in a high power distance country such as China, supervisor–subordinate guanxi plays a more important role than co-worker guanxi in influencing job satisfaction. Theoretically, this study suggests the as yet unexplored possibility of dispositional antecedents of workplace guanxi and the role of workplace guanxi on the relationship between dispositions and workplace attitudes such as job satisfaction.


Supervisor–subordinate guanxi Co-worker guanxi Job satisfaction Negative affectivity Positive affectivity