The Darker Side of Social Networks in Transforming Economies: Corrupt Exchange in Chinese Guanxi and Russian Blat/Svyazi

Paivi Karhunen*, Riitta Kosonen, Daniel J. McCarthy, Sheila M. Puffer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

This article addresses corruption as a negative practice displaying the 'darker side' of social capital in Chinese guanxi and Russian blat/svyazi networks. It presents a conceptual framework integrating several research streams to establish a conceptual linkage between social network characteristics and three forms of corruption between business persons and public officials: cronyism, bribery, and extortion. We argue that the forms of corruption in a society are determined by the nature of social network ties and their underlying morality, with particularistic and general trust being key factors. Our framework depicts networks as three concentric circles representing three types of corruption resulting from their corresponding types of reciprocity: open, closed, and negative. We then apply the framework to the practice of guanxi in China and blat/svyazi in Russia. We propose that different network characteristics and different forms of corruption may help explain what we label the 'China-Russia paradox' of why corruption and high economic growth have co-existed in China, at least in the short term, but less so in Russia. We conclude with ethical and legal implications for doing business in those two transforming economies and offer suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-419
Number of pages25
JournalManagement and Organization Review
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • China
  • corruption
  • reciprocity
  • Russia
  • social networks
  • trust
  • BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS
  • INTERNATIONAL-BUSINESS
  • GEOCENTRIC FRAMEWORK
  • ORGANIZATIONAL TRUST
  • BRIBERY
  • GOVERNANCE
  • EXTORTION
  • EXPERIENCE
  • EFFICIENCY
  • ETHICALITY

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