Cooperative trust and trustworthiness in China and the United States: Does guanxi make a difference?

Hanjing Huang1, Pei-Luen Patrick Rau1
1Department of Industrial Engineering, Tsinghua University, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Huang, H., & Rau, P. (2019). Cooperative trust and trustworthiness in China and the United States: Does guanxi make a difference?. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 47, e7779.

Volume 47 Issue 5 | e7779 | Published: May 2019 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.7779

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Our aim was to investigate and compare the effects of cooperating with either a friend or a stranger in a business context on trust and trustworthiness in 2 different cultures. In China, guanxi is a special form of personal relationship in which the exchange partners bond through reciprocal obligations. We conducted cooperation experiments based on the supply chain task in which Chinese and U.S. participants cooperated with their friends and with strangers. The results indicated that both Chinese and U.S. participants had higher levels of trust and trustworthiness for their friends than for strangers. Moreover, Chinese participants made a stronger distinction between friends and strangers than did U.S. participants. In addition, Chinese participants had lower levels of trust and trustworthiness than did U.S. participants. The cooperation experiments enrich the theoretical field of investigating the effects of personal relationships on cooperative trust and trustworthiness, and provide practical value to the management of business cooperation in different cultures.

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