Of Guanxi And Family
Business and family in Hong Kong almost always comes hand in hand, which means that the concept of Guanxi is also inherently tied to family relations. Then again, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s back up a little.
For some context, Guanxi means Connections or Networks in English, but the biggest factor in Guanxi is family. Basically, if we look at it as if the concept was akin to a corporate ladder, the main family is at the very top. From there, it’s still possible to form Guanxi, but it become progressively weaker the farther from the main family you go.
The Different Levels of Guanxi
Okay, so the corporate ladder analogy works to illustrate how high the main family is in relation to business and Guanxi. However, if you really want to understand all the different levels of the concept, it’s helpful to look at it like a series of circles that expand outward.
The innermost circle is composed of the family where all the heads of giant enterprises and high ranking business executives come from. Next is all of their relatives, including aunts, uncles, and cousins. After that, it’s the extended families, followed by business partners, close friends, classmates and so on. Guanxi could even be formed between a friend of a friend, though you can’t expect this relationship to be stronger than the one formed with the intermediary.
The Close Link Between Guanxi and Immediate Family
Now that the different levels of Guanxi has been illustrated, perhaps the importance of the immediate or main family has become much clearer. Just to elaborate, the significance of immediate families in Guanxi is the matter of trust and convenience.
It makes sense that family members would be able to trust one another rather than outsiders, especially in such a family-centric culture as in Hong Kong. In order for Guanxi to be effective, the people involved need to be able to count on one another completely, which is why it has to be the main family. Beyond that, the level of trust that can be given diminishes along with the weight of the Guanxi’s significance.