Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 361–384 | Cite as

The Third Eye: Exploring Guanxi and Relational Morality in the Workplace

  • Doreen Tan
  • Robin Stanley Snell


We examine the use of Confucian relational morality as an alternative reference point to that of modernist morality in judging workplace ethical conduct. A semi-structured interview based study involving 46 ethnic Chinese managers and 30 non-Chinese expatriate managers in Singapore, provided evidence of the use of traditional guanxi-linked morality as a moral resource by some of the former group in judging workplace ethical dilemmas. While such morality played only a minor role in moral reasoning, and was largely overshadowed by modernist morality, the research nonetheless demonstrates that moral reasoning reflects wider cultural heritage, and is not merely a function of corporate culture and individual moral development.

Confucian guanxi moral thinking relational morality 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Doreen Tan
    • 1
  • Robin Stanley Snell
    • 2
  1. 1.Human Resource Management Unit, School of BusinessNational University of SingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Department of ManagementLingnan UniversityTuen Mun, New TerritoriesHong Kong

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