Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences

Structural Replacement or Structural Inducement: Government Ties of Chinese Business Executives

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences

Structural Replacement or Structural Inducement: Government Ties of Chinese Business Executives

Article excerpt

Abstract

We suggest that the structural replacement thesis, which proposes that managers in Chinese nonstate-owned enterprises (NSOEs) possess more government ties than managers in Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs), is theoretically incomplete because it considers only the motivation of managers of NSOEs. The extensiveness of social ties is influenced also by the capability and opportunity for social actors to cultivate these social ties. We introduce the structural inducement thesis, which holds that SOE managers have more government ties than do NSOE managers, as an alternative to the structural replacement thesis. Our analysis of 250 Chinese managers' ties supports this structural inducement thesis. The theoretical and applied implications of these findings are discussed. Copyright © 2009 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

JEL classification: L14

Keywords: social tie extensiveness, structural replacement, structural inducement, government ties, Chinese business managers

Résumé

Dans cet article, nous montrons que la thèse du remplacement structurel selon laquelle les gestionnaires des entreprises non-étatiques chinoises (NSOEs) ont plus d'entrées au gouvernement que les gestionnaires d'entreprises étatiques (SOEs) est théoriquement incomplète parce qu'elle prend en compte uniquement la motivation des gestionnaires des NSOEs. L'ampleur des liens sociaux est aussi influencée par la capacité des acteurs à les cultiver et par l'opportunité qui s'offre à eux. Nous proposons, en lieu et place de la thèse du remplacement structurel, la thèse de l'incitation structurelle selon laquelle les gestionnaires des SOEs ont plus d'entrées au gouvernement que les gestionnaires des NSEOs. Cette nouvelle thèse est étayée par l'analyse des liens de 250 gestionnaires chinois. L'article se termine par une présentation des implications théoriques et pratiques de l'étude. Copyright © 2009 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Mots-clés : ampleur des liens sociaux, remplacement structurel, incitation structurelle, entrées au gouvernement, gestionnaires d'entreprises chinoises

Research in social networks centers on the premise that a web of social ties has a vital impact on social actors embedded in the web (Powell, 1990). Managing social ties, in contrast to administering a formal structure and/or hierarchy, can enable firms to reduce costs (Li & Rowley, 2002) and to achieve high-quality production (Uzzi, 1997) and increased market performance (Li & Berta, 2002; Shipilov & Li, 2008). Social actors, however, do not all possess the same number (i.e., size) of social ties. For example, male and female managers differ in the range of their social ties (Ibarra, 1992, 1993; Moore, 1990). Disparities in social tie size are also found across different foreign minority groups (Portes & Sensenbrenner, 1993), business managers with different demographic backgrounds (Westphal & Milton, 2000), and social groups with dissimilar social statuses (Lin, 1999).

We refer to the disparate social tie sizes of different social groups as the tie distribution issue. Research on this issue is overwhelmingly concentrated in the US. Given that social connections are consequential in all economies, social network scholars are increasingly directing their attention to developing countries such as China (the nation with the largest developing economy; Chen, Chen, & Xin, 2004; Guthrie, 1998). Xin and Pearce (1996) proposed that Chinese business managers employed by state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have less of a need to establish social connections with government officials compared to Chinese business managers of nonstate-owned enterprises (NSOEs). They reasoned that Chinese NSOEs lack formal institutionalized connections with, or structural support from, different levels of Chinese governments, and that therefore these managers are particularly in need of establishing such contacts. …

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