Comparing Chinese and Arab Cultural Constructs: Guanxi and Wasta
We start from the premise that cultural considerations are important both to understand inter-firm relationships and networks (from the scientific perspective), and to manage relationships and networks (from the managerial perspective). The focus is on cultural constructs from cultures other than the Global West, with a specific focus on guanxi from Chinese culture and wasta from Arab culture. Using qualitative data gathered in China and the UAE, we explore the differences and similarities between guanxi and wasta in the context of business-to-business relationships. Clearly, both constructs are important in relationship management within their relevant cultural contexts. Many similarities are observed, for example in connection with the importance of family connections as an antecedent and trust as a consequence of guanxi and wasta. Both constructs are associated with ‘face’ and ‘face saving’. Nevertheless, significant nuanced differences are identified between the two cultural constructs.