Cultural adaptation and socialisation between Western buyers and Chinese suppliers: The formation of a hybrid culture

Fu Jia*, Christine Rutherford, Richard Lamming

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We aim to examine culturally-influenced behavioural adaptation embedded in socialisation processes at interfaces between Western buyers and Chinese suppliers in China. We conducted multiple case studies, including four cross-cultural partnerships, exploring how interface teams hosting trans-cultural boundary spanners at buyer-supplier interfaces socialise formally and informally and adapt behaviourally to three key cultural differences between Chinese Guanxi and the Anglo-Saxon form of Western culture. Data collected from 36 interviewees are used to explore the process of cultural behavioural adaptation and the emergence of a hybrid culture. We find that cultural adaptation is confined to those interface teams who interact routinely at the buyer-supplier interface and leads to the formation of a hybrid culture, which is a combination of Guanxi and western rules and procedures. The hybrid culture and cultural adaptation are two intermediary constructs between socialisation and relational capital, which enriches and explains this relationship in a cross-cultural context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1246-1261
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Business Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Buyer-supplier relationship
  • Case study
  • China
  • Cultural adaptation
  • Hybrid culture
  • Socialisation

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