Guanxi influence system : understanding influence tactics from the perspective of Guanxi
Koh, Eugenen Wenhui
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The overall goal of this research project is to use the perspective of guanxi to better understand the use of influence tactics in workplace relationships in Singapore. Influence tactics are a form of communication between individuals in the workplace. They convey different messages depending on the type of tactic employed and the setting in which they are used. Culture might be expected to impact the perception of which tactics are most socially appropriate and effective in the workplace. However, to date, no study has examined whether the pattern of influence tactics deemed most appropriate and effective in the United States, holds true in a Chinese society. In Study 1, I examined this question in the context of Singapore. I found that while Singaporean participants endorsed the same set of influence tactics as reported for Westerners as appropriate for the workplace, they endorsed a different group of influence tactics as more effective. To gain a greater depth of insight into cultural differences in the perception of workplace influence tactics, in the second study I made a closer examination of how influence behaviours are perceived in the workplace. Specifically, I selected gift-giving as a concrete behavioral example of the operation of a set of influence tactics related to guanxi as the focus of Study 2. The results from the second study showed that only Singaporean participants associated work-related gifts with the concept of trust, while Western participants did not. This pair of studies contributes to a better understanding of how employees navigate through complexities of guanxi principles in a law abiding Singaporean workplace and how guanxi can be understood with influence tactics.