African Journal of
Marketing Management

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Mark. Manage.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2421
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJMM
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 159

Full Length Research Paper

The effect of Guanxi orientation on boundary spanners’ behavior and subsequent influence on inter-firm relationship quality

PAN Xuan
  • PAN Xuan
  • School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, China.
  • Google Scholar
ZANG Shuwei
  • ZANG Shuwei
  • School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, China.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 16 May 2017
  •  Accepted: 07 August 2017
  •  Published: 30 September 2017


Guanxi orientation is one of the important organizational values in China. This study examines the effect of guanxi orientation on firm’s boundary spanner’s behavior (manifested by interpersonal liking and interaction frequency) and its influence on inter-firm relationships in Chinese marketing channel context. Drawing on organizational culture and boundary spanner theory, a conceptual model is proposed to delineate how guanxi orientation works across organizations where inter-firm support is placed as the key mediator. Results from 342 distributors show that guanxi orientation has positive influence on interpersonal liking and interaction frequency between boundary spanners, and the manifested behaviors have direct and indirect impact on inter-firm relationship quality through inter-firm support. Overall, the study research extended the extant literature from three perspectives. Firstly, this study deepens our understanding of the organizational role of guanxi orientation and its influence on boundary spanner’s individual behaviors, building a bridge between intra- and inter-firm relationships. Secondly, the research findings suggest that boundary spanners can provide inter-firm support for building cooperative relationship channels. Thirdly, inter-firm support is found to be another antecedent of long-term orientation (previously trust, dependence, and performance), which provides a cost-effective way for building deeper relationship. Contributions, managerial implications, limitations, and future research are also pointed out.

Key words: Guanxi orientation, boundary spanner behaviors, inter-firms relationship quality.