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Paper info: Comparing Chinese and Arab cultural constructs: guanxi and wasta


Comparing Chinese and Arab cultural constructs: guanxi and wasta


Roudaina Houjeir
Roudaina Houjeir ,
Amna Khan
University of Manchester
United Kingdom
Amna Khan and
Ross Brennan
Middlesex University
United Kingdom
Ross Brennan

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 33rd IMP-conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2017.


Not available


Cultural considerations matter both to understand inter-firm relationships and networks (from the scientific perspective), and to manage relationships and networks (from the managerial perspective). The focus is on cultural constructs from cultures other than the Global West, with a specific focus on guanxi from Chinese culture and wasta from Arab culture. Using qualitative data gathered in China and the UAE, we explore the differences and similarities between guanxi and wasta in the context of B2B relationships. Clearly, both constructs are important in relationship management within their relevant cultural contexts. Many similarities are observed, for example in connection with the importance of family connections as an antecedent and trust as a consequence of guanxi and wasta. Both constructs are associated with ‘face’ and ‘face saving’. Nevertheless, significant nuanced differences are identified between the two cultural constructs.