Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Going beyond traditional inquiry into social support from local organizational constituents, this project examined how diverse resources from mutually affiliated contacts within and beyond local work environs boost propensity to stay in firms. We deployed Burt’s (1992) name generator and network closure index to more fully assess guanxi networks in China, which comprise strong, dense, and multiplex ties. Specifically, we tested how closed guanxi networks promote job loyalty among Chinese nationals, while investigating how high-commitment human resource management (HRM) systems moderate network effects. We collected egonet data from 417 employees in four high tech firms in China. Hierarchical linear modeling revealed that guanxi network closure increases propensity to stay, whose effects high-commitment HRM reinforce.
In this paper, we bring structural holes theory to different cultural contexts by studying the effect of structural holes in four high-tech companies in China and assessing whether they confer the benefits to individuals occupying the brokering position in a career network that have been found in Western contexts. On the level of national culture, we propose that the typical collectivistic culture of China will dampen the effects of structural holes. On the organizational level, we propose that in organizations that foster a high-commitment culture—a culture that emphasizes mutual investment between people—the control benefits of structural holes are dissonant with the dominant spirit of cooperation, and the information benefits of structural holes cannot materialize due to the communal-sharing values in such organizations. Empirical results of network surveys confirm our hypotheses, and interview data add depth to our explanations. Brokers do not fit with the collectivistic values of China. Further, the more an organization possesses a clan-like, high-commitment culture, the more detrimental are structural holes for employees' career achievements such as salary or bonus, even after controlling for a host of other factors that may influence these career outcomes. In high commitment organizations, the “integrators” who bring people together to fill structural holes enjoy greater career benefits.