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Social capital, Chinese style: individualism, relational collectivism and the cultural embeddedness of the institutions-performance link

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  • Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten

Abstract

China is the odd man out in the research on social capital and economic performance. A brief survey of recent World Values Survey data depicts China to be a high-trust, achievement oriented society, which does not fit into popular pictures of rampant corruption and abuses of power. I argue that one difficulty results from methodological issues in research on social capital, where a universally accepted theory of social capital is lacking, including theoretically grounded methods of measurement. These resulting applications often generalize a Western notion of civil society as a benchmark, implicitely. I propose that social capital has to be conveived as a context-bound intermediate level theoretical term, putting methodological arguments by Durlauf (economics) and Little (Chinese studies) together. The resulting empirical method is that of triangulation across different disciplines, combining emic and etic approaches. I present an application on the notorious phenomenon of guanxi in China, which results into their re-conceptualization as Ego-centric networking and relational collectivism, based on a culturally specific framing of affectual aspects of social relations. With this notion of culturally specific social capital, we can better understand the relation between institutions and economic performance in China.

Suggested Citation

  • Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten, 2009. "Social capital, Chinese style: individualism, relational collectivism and the cultural embeddedness of the institutions-performance link," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 132, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fsfmwp:132
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Aoki, Masahiko, 2017. "Strategies and public propositions in games of institutional change: Comparative historical cases," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 171-187.
    2. Inklaar, Robert & Koetter, Michael & Noth, Felix, 2012. "Who's afraid of big bad banks? Bank competition, SME, and industry growth," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 197, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
    3. Dietmar Harhoff & Elisabeth Mueller & John Reenen, 2014. "What are the Channels for Technology Sourcing? Panel Data Evidence from German Companies," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(1), pages 204-224, March.
    4. Masahiko Aoki, 2013. "Historical sources of institutional trajectories in economic development: China, Japan and Korea compared," Chapters,in: Comparative Institutional Analysis, chapter 22, pages 439-469 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Boeing, Philipp & Mueller, Elisabeth & Sandner, Philipp, 2012. "What makes Chinese firms productive? Learning from indigenous and foreign sources of knowledge," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 196, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
    6. Avner Greif & Guido Tabellini, 2012. "The Clan and the City: Sustaining Cooperation in China and Europe," Working Papers 445, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    7. Kostka, Genia & Moslener, Ulf & Andreas, Jan G., 2011. "Barriers to energy efficiency improvement: Empirical evidence from small-and-medium sized enterprises in China," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 178, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
    8. Alexander Libman & Vladimir Kozlov & André Schultz, 2012. "Roving Bandits in Action: Outside Option and Governmental Predation in Autocracies," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 526-562, November.
    9. Yu, Xiaofan, 2011. "A spatial interpretation of the persistency of China's provincial inequality," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 171, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
    10. Aoki, Masahiko, 2014. "Economic and Political Transitions from Premodern to Modern States in the Meiji Restoration and Xinhai Revolution: A Strategic Approach," ADBI Working Papers 486, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    11. Böing, Philipp & Müller, Elisabeth, 2012. "Technological Capabilities of Chinese Enterprises: Who is Going to Compete Abroad?," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62081, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    12. Masahiko Aoki, 2013. "Comparative Institutional Analysis," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15474.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social capital; China; guanxi; collectivism and individualism; culture and emotions;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • P39 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Other
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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