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postgraduate thesis: Guanxi and academic career development in Chinese higher education institutions : a case study

TitleGuanxi and academic career development in Chinese higher education institutions : a case study
Authors
Issue Date2014
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Xu, X. [徐雪燕]. (2014). Guanxi and academic career development in Chinese higher education institutions : a case study. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5544002
AbstractGuanxi (interpersonal relationship) is an important mechanism through which Chinese people facilitate transactions and cope with institutional constraints under immature legal frameworks. As the transition of China’s economic system and legal framework progresses, the impact of guanxi on Chinese’s life and work has sparked heated debates. This study attempts to specify empirically the significance of guanxi in the context of institutional transition, from an academic career development perspective. The researcher conducted a qualitative exploration in a transitional research university in Beijing. Based on the previous studies, this study emphasizes the influences of three types of guanxi –mentorship (shimenship), leader-subordinate guanxi and colleagueship – on academics’ professional growth, in terms of job status improvement, resource attainment, network enlargement and performance advancement. The strategies academics used to establish and enhance these three types of guanxi were also investigated. Fifty-five academics’ perspectives and experiences were sought through semi-structured interviews. Their guanxi experiences helped the researcher to determine how and why guanxi helped academics to access different resources in the subject transitional research university. Likewise, policy documents, papers and observation notes were employed to portray the institutional constraints currently facing academics. The field data pointedly suggested that the radical overhaul of institutional governance systems at the subject research university was, paradoxically, accompanied by the undiminished presence of the university’s old bureaucracy. This placed huge institutional constraints on academics’ career growth. Between the push of market forces and the pull of the old bureaucracy, academics were found to activate guanxi more enthusiastically and more frequently in an effort to overcome hardships and mobilize desirable academic resources. The participants pointedly singled out mentors, fellow shimen members, and leaders as important resources linkers, helping them successfully access targeted information, resources, opportunities and other social relationships during the institutional transition. In terms of academic appointment, academics frequently used mentorship, shimenship and their connections to leaders to improve their job status. However, the field data suggested that the introduction of market-oriented mechanisms to the academic appointment process, together with enhanced central control over bianzhi distribution, at least to some extent, made these lobbying efforts less effective than expected. Regarding colleagueship, it had comparatively little influence on academics’ funding applications and teaching performance improvement, explaining why interactions between colleagues were often limited to perfunctory exchanges designed to maintain social harmony. Academic collaboration was seen as an effective way of helping academics efficiently sustain and enhance their relationships with mentors, shimen members and leaders. Besides research interests and research competencies, academic collaboration allowed different parties to determine whether they were attuned to each other’s taste of personality traits (e.g., generosity, sincerity, responsibility), which were seen as leading indicators of academics’ moralities and work ethics, thus deepening their existing trust and promoting future collaborations. Although social eating and communication were seen as useful ways of maintaining mentorship and shimenship, there was no consensus among academics with different status on their importance in enhancing leader-subordinate guanxi. Academics also reported accessing targeted powerful leaders through third party recommendations and self-disclosure. In brief, this study is one of the few empirical studies to specify guanxi mechanism’s effect on academics’ career growth during institutional transition, and offers readers a different perspective on the influence of institutional reforms at Chinese HEIs on academics’ career development.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectCollege teachers - China
Interpersonal relations - China
Dept/ProgramEducation
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/212614

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorXu, Xueyan-
dc.contributor.author徐雪燕-
dc.date.accessioned2015-07-23T23:10:49Z-
dc.date.available2015-07-23T23:10:49Z-
dc.date.issued2014-
dc.identifier.citationXu, X. [徐雪燕]. (2014). Guanxi and academic career development in Chinese higher education institutions : a case study. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5544002-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/212614-
dc.description.abstractGuanxi (interpersonal relationship) is an important mechanism through which Chinese people facilitate transactions and cope with institutional constraints under immature legal frameworks. As the transition of China’s economic system and legal framework progresses, the impact of guanxi on Chinese’s life and work has sparked heated debates. This study attempts to specify empirically the significance of guanxi in the context of institutional transition, from an academic career development perspective. The researcher conducted a qualitative exploration in a transitional research university in Beijing. Based on the previous studies, this study emphasizes the influences of three types of guanxi –mentorship (shimenship), leader-subordinate guanxi and colleagueship – on academics’ professional growth, in terms of job status improvement, resource attainment, network enlargement and performance advancement. The strategies academics used to establish and enhance these three types of guanxi were also investigated. Fifty-five academics’ perspectives and experiences were sought through semi-structured interviews. Their guanxi experiences helped the researcher to determine how and why guanxi helped academics to access different resources in the subject transitional research university. Likewise, policy documents, papers and observation notes were employed to portray the institutional constraints currently facing academics. The field data pointedly suggested that the radical overhaul of institutional governance systems at the subject research university was, paradoxically, accompanied by the undiminished presence of the university’s old bureaucracy. This placed huge institutional constraints on academics’ career growth. Between the push of market forces and the pull of the old bureaucracy, academics were found to activate guanxi more enthusiastically and more frequently in an effort to overcome hardships and mobilize desirable academic resources. The participants pointedly singled out mentors, fellow shimen members, and leaders as important resources linkers, helping them successfully access targeted information, resources, opportunities and other social relationships during the institutional transition. In terms of academic appointment, academics frequently used mentorship, shimenship and their connections to leaders to improve their job status. However, the field data suggested that the introduction of market-oriented mechanisms to the academic appointment process, together with enhanced central control over bianzhi distribution, at least to some extent, made these lobbying efforts less effective than expected. Regarding colleagueship, it had comparatively little influence on academics’ funding applications and teaching performance improvement, explaining why interactions between colleagues were often limited to perfunctory exchanges designed to maintain social harmony. Academic collaboration was seen as an effective way of helping academics efficiently sustain and enhance their relationships with mentors, shimen members and leaders. Besides research interests and research competencies, academic collaboration allowed different parties to determine whether they were attuned to each other’s taste of personality traits (e.g., generosity, sincerity, responsibility), which were seen as leading indicators of academics’ moralities and work ethics, thus deepening their existing trust and promoting future collaborations. Although social eating and communication were seen as useful ways of maintaining mentorship and shimenship, there was no consensus among academics with different status on their importance in enhancing leader-subordinate guanxi. Academics also reported accessing targeted powerful leaders through third party recommendations and self-disclosure. In brief, this study is one of the few empirical studies to specify guanxi mechanism’s effect on academics’ career growth during institutional transition, and offers readers a different perspective on the influence of institutional reforms at Chinese HEIs on academics’ career development.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.subject.lcshCollege teachers - China-
dc.subject.lcshInterpersonal relations - China-
dc.titleGuanxi and academic career development in Chinese higher education institutions : a case study-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5544002-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEducation-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-

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