Tradeoffs of Brokerage: The Impact of "Guanxi" on the Performance of Brokerage — Empirical Research Based on the Integration of Big Data and Structured Data

Xin Gao, Jar-Der Luo, Yue Zhang, Xiao Si, Lichun Liu


The widespread use of social networks allows relationships between employees to be collected without face-to-face interviews to some extent. Thus, after integrating employees’ social relationship from social network big data and structured data from HR department of a large Internet company in China, it is possible to investigate the impact of relationship which called “guanxi” in Chinese context on individual brokerage’s performance, as a complement to current network theory of social capital. We define the guanxi circle as an ego-centered social network around a supervisor (the formal leader of a group) with multiple layers (core and peripheral circle members and outsiders), involving different levels of trust, power, and mutual obligation. Therefore, the broker’s membership position, shapes the performance expectations and motivation to connect with other employees, and significantly impacts his or her reward to the brokerage. We also find the interactive effect between an individual’s structural holes and whether being a bridging role between leaders affects individual job performance. The main contribution of this study is to strengthen the prediction of performance from the immediate ego-centered network based on big data regarding the supervisor’s network. This is of key significance with the increasing availability of social networking big data.

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