An exploration of Chinese identity in a South African context : negotiating interactions arising from guanxi and mianzi in business relationships

Ball, David William (2015-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study aims to investigate the identity of Chinese businesspeople in a South African context. This is to determine whether their knowledge of and application of the traditional Confucian concepts of ‘guanxi’ (relationships) and ‘mianzi’ (face) offer that community any tangible benefits to negotiating and maintaining business relationships. While much has been written of the group’s early history, more could be done to determine their contribution toward South African society today. Bilateral trade with China and domestic job creation are just two areas where more research could develop our mutual understanding, given our unique relationship with China. South Africa is the only African country to invest in China and is also home to the largest and longest standing Chinese community in Africa. A self-administered questionnaire was disseminated to previously identified groups of Chines businesspeople located within the metropolitan Cape Town area. The purpose was to collect data that would provide practical assistance to inform local South African business people on how to tailor their approach to interact in commercial enterprises with their Chinese counterparts. The prospect was that better understanding of Chinese culture and historical traditions may prove a meaningful tool to bolster intercultural relationships. This could then lead to enhanced business relationships and a better understanding of this misunderstood and marginalised community.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie beoog om die identiteit van Sjinese besigheidsmense binne ’n Suid-Afrikaanse konteks te ondersoek. Dit is om te bepaal of hulle kennis asook die toepassing van hulle tradisionele Konfusiaanse konsepte van ‘guanxi’ (verhoudings) en ‘mianzi’ (aansien) hulle gemeenskap enige tasbare voordele ten op sigte van die onderhandeling en instandhouding van besigheidsverhoudings bekom. Terwyl daar alreeds redelike skrywe omtrent hierdie groep se vroeë geskiedenis bestaan, kan daar baie meer gedoen word om vas te stel wat hulle bydrae tot vandag se Suid-Afrikaanse gemeenskap is. Bilaterale handel met Sjina en plaaslike werkskepping is slegs twee areas waar verdere navorsing wedersydse begrip kan bevorder, siende ons unieke verhouding met Sjina. Suid-Afrika is die enigste land in Afrika om in Sjina te investeer en is ook die tuiste van die grootste asook die mees lank bestaande Sjinese gemeenskap in Afrika. ’n Selftoegediende vraelys was versprei onder voorafgeïdentifiseerde groepe van Sjinese besigheidsmense wat in die Kaapstadse metropool gevestig is. Die doel was om data te versamel wat doelmatige bystand kan lewer vir die Suid-Afrikaanse besigheidsgemeenskap om hulle ’n pasgemaakte benadering tot interaksie met handelsondernemings met hulle Sjinese eweknieë te kan gee. Die vooruitsig was dat beter kennis van die Sjinese kultuur en hulle historiese tradisies ’n betekenisvolle instrument sal wees wat interkulturele verhoudings sal versterk. Dit kan dan aanleiding gee tot verbeterde besigheidsverhoudings en ’n beter begrip van hierdie misverstane asook gemarginaliseerde gemeenskap.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97102
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