When Brokers May Not Work: The Cultural Contingency of Social Capital in Chinese High-tech Firms

Zhixing Xiao (First Author), Anne S. Tsui (Participant Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal

366 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
JournalAdministrative Science Quarterly
Volume52
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Keywords

  • HUMAN-RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
  • INDIVIDUALISM-COLLECTIVISM
  • JOB-SATISFACTION
  • KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER
  • MANUFACTURING PERFORMANCE
  • NETWORK STRUCTURE
  • ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE
  • RENT APPROPRIATION
  • REPUBLIC-OF-CHINA
  • STRUCTURAL HOLES

Indexed by

  • FT
  • ABDC-A*
  • Scopus
  • SSCI

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