Asian Business & Management

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 187–207 | Cite as

Inter-organizational governance and trilateral trust building: a case study of crowdsourcing-based open innovation in China

  • Wenbo GuoEmail author
  • Jing Betty Feng
  • Brad McKenna
  • Pengzhu Zhang
Research Article


In a case study of a Chinese crowdsourcing intermediary, we explore the impact of inter-organizational governance on trilateral trust-building. We show that formal control and relational governance mechanisms are essential for swift and knowledge-based trust in R&D crowdsourcing. The case also indicates that Chinese businesses continue to use guanxi (informal personal connections) as a relational and contingent mechanism to maintain affect-based trust, but guanxi is shown to inhibit the growth of Internet-based crowdsourcing for open innovation in China.


Guanxi Chinese context Crowdsourcing Open innovation R&D Trust 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) Grants Nos. 71171131, 71471141, 71503108 and 91646205. It was also funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council. The authors would also like to acknowledge the valuable feedback from the editor and two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenbo Guo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jing Betty Feng
    • 2
  • Brad McKenna
    • 3
  • Pengzhu Zhang
    • 4
  1. 1.Xi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Farmingdale State College (SUNY)FarmingdaleUSA
  3. 3.University of East AngliaNorwichUK
  4. 4.Shanghai Jiaotong UniversityShanghaiChina

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