Supply relational risk: What role does guanxi play?

Fu Jia*, George A. Zsidisin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The topics of supply chain risk and global sourcing have garnered significant attention in recent years. Although there is ample circumstantial evidence of global sourcing risk, especially from the western-firm perspective of sourcing from China, few published studies have investigated the root causes of this risk. In this paper, we argue that much of the risk associated with sourcing from China stems from the differences associated with institutional norms and philosophical orientation between western and Chinese thought and culture. Based on an in-depth literature review and case analysis, we compare western forms of supply chain relationship management with Guanxi, the Chinese form of relationship management and propose a framework of how western firms are exposed to supply relational risk when sourcing from Chinese suppliers. The framework proposed in this article sheds light for supply chain managers with regard to the potential pitfalls facing firms when working with Chinese suppliers, and provides the groundwork for future research regarding supply chain practices and Guanxi networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-267
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Business Logistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • Buyer-supplier relationships
  • Guanxi
  • Relational risk
  • Theory-building

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