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Informal Networks: Dark Sides, Bright Sides, and Unexplored Dimensions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2020

Sven Horak
Affiliation:
St. John's University, USA
Fida Afiouni
Affiliation:
American University of Beirut, Lebanon
Yanjie Bian
Affiliation:
University of Minnesota, USA Xi'an Jiaotong University, China
Alena Ledeneva
Affiliation:
University College London, UK
Maral Muratbekova-Touron
Affiliation:
ESCP Europe, France
Carl F. Fey*
Affiliation:
Aalto University, Finland
*
Corresponding author: Carl Fey (carl.fey@aalto.fi)

Abstract

Informal networking can be seen as a positive activity with beneficial outcomes for individuals, firms, and society as a whole, but informal networking can also lead to collusion, cliques, nepotism, and other forms of unethical or corrupt conduct – largely related to research on emerging markets. To date, the construction of informal networks and their cultural intertwinement and development have not been a focus of international management and organization studies, a gap that this special issue seeks to address. This special issue contributes to a better understanding of the dynamics of informal networks and their ambivalence, in which the same networks have different modes of operation and have positive and negative sides intermittently or simultaneously. We demonstrate the context in which informal networks operate, highlight their complexity, and encourage dialogue among scholars studying informal networks in a variety of countries. Using a context-based and comparative perspective allows us to conceptualize informal networks in a more integrated and balanced way. Understanding the workings of informal networking – known variously as guanxi, yongo, jentinho, wasta, and blat – in culturally specific settings, places Western values, social structures, and ideals of behavior in perspective and tests Western-centered assumptions, narratives, and theories. Because informal networking is a conventional way of conducting business in many countries, as depicted in this special issue, defining the bright (positive) and the dark (negative) sides of informal networks is critical for responsible management and business success at multinational corporations.

摘要

摘要

非正式网络被视为一种有益于个体、公司以及整个社会的积极活动,但非正式网络也可能导致共谋、拉帮结派、任人唯亲以及其他形式的不道德或腐败行为——这主要与新兴市场的研究有关。迄今为止,非正式网络的建设、文化交融以及发展并没有成为国际管理和组织研究的焦点,这是本期特刊试图解决的一个问题。这期特刊有助于更好地理解非正式网络的动态性与矛盾性,即同一网络存在不同的运作模式,且间歇或同时存在正反两面。我们论证了非正式网络运行的背景,强调了其复杂性,并鼓励来自不同国家的非正式网络学者展开对话。采用基于环境和比较的视角,我们以更加整合和平衡的方式将非正式网络概念化。在特定文化背景下,以西方价值观、社会结构和行为理念为视角,理解被熟知的guanxi, yongo, jentinho, wasta和blat这类非正式网络的运作方式,并检验西方中心的假定、叙述和理论。正如本期特刊所描述的,由于非正式网络是众多国家进行业务往来的传统方式,因此界定非正式网络光明面(积极面)与黑暗面(消极面)对跨国公司的负责任的管理和商业成功至关重要。

Аннотация

АННОТАЦИЯ

Неформальные связи можно рассматривать как позитивное явление, которое приносит пользу для отдельных лиц, компаний и общества в целом, однако неформальные связи также могут привести к сговору, коалициям, кумовству и другим формам неэтичного или коррумпированного поведения, которое имеет большое значение для исследований по развивающимся рынкам. На сегодняшний день, налаживание неформальных связей, а также их переплетение и развитие в разных культурных контекстах, не были в центре внимания исследований в области международного управления и организации, – и этому пробелу посвящен данный специальный номер журнала. Этот специальный выпуск вносит свой вклад в расширение знаний по динамике неформальных связей и их амбивалентности, при которой одни и те же связи имеют разные режимы функционирования, а также демонстрируют положительные и отрицательные стороны периодически или одновременно. Мы уделяем особое внимание контексту, в котором работают неформальные связи, подчеркиваем их сложность и поощряем диалог между учеными, которые изучают неформальные связи в различных странах. Сравнительный анализ в разных контекстах делает нашу концептуализацию неформальных связей более интегрированной и сбалансированной. Понимание действия неформального взаимодействия – известного как guanxi, yongo, jentinho, wasta и blat – в разных культурных условиях, позволяет рассмотреть западные ценности, социальные структуры и нормы поведения в широкой перспективе, а также проверить западно-ориентированные гипотезы, нарративы и теории. Поскольку неформальные связи являются традиционным способом ведения бизнеса во многих странах, как показано в этом специальном выпуске, определение светлых (положительных) и темных (отрицательных) сторон неформальных связей имеет решающее значение для ответственного управления и делового успеха в многонациональных корпорациях.

Resumen

RESUMEN

La creación de una red de conexiones informal puede ser vista como una actividad positiva con resultados benéficos para los individuos, las empresas y la sociedad en su conjunto, pero la interconexión informal puede también llevar a la colusión, mafias, nepotismo, y otras formas de conducta poco éticas o corruptas – principalmente relacionada con la investigación sobre mercados emergentes. Hasta la fecha, la construcción de redes informales y su entrelazamiento y desarrollo cultural no ha sido centro de la gestión internacional o los estudios organizacionales, una brecha que este número especial busca darle atención. Este número especial contribuye a comprender mejor las dinámicas de las redes informales y su ambivalencia, en la cual las mismas redes tienen diferentes modos de operación y tienen lados positivos y negativos intermitentemente o simultáneamente. Demostramos que el contexto en el cual las redes informales operan, resalta su complejidad, y fomenta el dialogo entre los académicos que estudian las redes informales en una variedad de países. Usando una perspectiva contextual y comparativa nos permite conceptualizar redes informales en una manera más integrada y balanceada. Entender el funcionamiento de la creación de una red de conexiones informal -conocidas como guanxi, yongo, jentinho, wasta, y blat, en entornos culturalmente específicos, pone a los valores Occidentales, las estructuras sociales, y los ideales de comportamiento en perspectiva y pone a prueba las soposiciones, narrativas y teorías. Debido a que la creación de redes informales es una manera convencional de hacer negocios en muchos países, cómo se describe en este número especial, definiendo los lados iluminado (positivo) y oscuro (negativo) de las redes informales es fundamental para la gestión responsable y el éxito empresarial en las corporaciones multinacionales.

Type
Special Issue Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 2020 The International Association for Chinese Management Research

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Footnotes

ACCEPTED BY Editor-in-Chief Arie Y. Lewin

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