Asia Pacific Journal of Management

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 219–240 | Cite as

China’s business network structure during institutional transitions

  • Bing RenEmail author
  • Kevin Y. Au
  • Thomas A. Birtch


This study adopted a structural approach to examine the formation and characteristics of Chinese business networks via interlocking directorates during a stage in China’s institutional transitions. Analyses of the network structures of 949 listed companies revealed that: (1) Chinese business networks were smaller in scale and lower in density than their Western counterparts; (2) no nationwide network with a dominant center existed; (3) interlock occurred mainly in the form of smaller business groups which tended to be regionally fragmented; (4) ties were more prevalent among industrial peers than with financial institutions; and (5) government ownership was predominant. These findings therefore deepen our understanding about the pattern and extent of business interlock in China. Not only do these findings provide substantive implications to the notion and dimensionality of guanxi, but they also offer inspiration to managers and policy makers by illuminating key characteristics of network structure. Laying these foundations shall pave the way for future research in the structure of Chinese business networks.


Business networks Interlocking directorates China Institutional transitions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management, School of BusinessNankai UniversityTianjinChina
  2. 2.Department of ManagementThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong
  3. 3.Centre for Economics and PolicyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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