Indirect Cronyism and Its Underlying Logic

Workshop’s Topic: Indirect cronyism is a phenomenon in which managers favor indirect guanxihu subordinates who have an informal, special, and personal connection to a third party (e.g., another manager), and shows that it is widespread in Chinese organizations. We explore the key factors that may lead managers to engage in indirect cronyism, and the downstream consequences for other members of the organization. We draw on the logic of indirect reciprocity, anchored in social exchange theory, to predict two underlying motives that explain why managers engage in indirect cronyism: (a) fulfilling their perceived obligation to favor the indirect guanxihu subordinate, and (b) strengthening their own guanxi with the third party. The results of three scenario-based experiments and a field study that surveyed a total of 1,559 working adults provide consistent support for our theoretical considerations and hypotheses. We discuss the theoretical contributions this paper makes to advancing the guanxi and cronyism literature, as well as the practical implications of our findings in Chinese organizations and beyond.

Time and Location: 10:00-11:30 AM (GMT+8), Room A723 (School of Management)

Language: Bilingual (Chinese and English)