The purpose of the paper is to assess the current state of network research in China’s business system. Research on networks has developed significantly during the last decades in regards to analytic techniques, number of research projects, and accumulated findings. While research on networks in China has always received much attention – not least because networks are (still) considered one of the major forces behind the country’s socio-economic change – this development has also had an effect on how research on generic networks in China is being conducted. How Chinese networks are modelled, which aspects remain controversial in the academic debate, and which conclusions the different studies offer asks for a systematic comparison. The paper, based on an extensive literature research, therefore relies on a framework of theoretical concepts underlying the study of networks which allows a categorization of the dominant (generic) forms of Chinese networks as discussed in major journals. The study on the one hand is descriptive by filtering the diverse literature of network research on China’s business system. On the other hand, it serves to identify gaps and shortcomings of the current literature in this field pointing to future research directions. We identify four generic types of networks, Chinese business groups (qiyejituan), Overseas Chinese Communities, networks of social relations (guanxi), and Network Capitalism, as an alternative economic model. As the study shows, the research approaches to these networks are extremely diverse both in description and analysis. A focus on the identified gaps within each type of network and a convergence between the types of networks should yield to further insights into the study of networks as well as their implications for economic systems.

Additional Metadata
Keywords China, modellen, onderzoeksanalyse, organizational networks, social networks
JEL Socialist; Marxist (jel B14), Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation; Networks (jel L14), Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting (jel M), New Firms; Startups (jel M13), Management of Technological Innovation and R&D (jel O32)
Publisher Erasmus Research Institute of Management
Persistent URL
Series ERIM Report Series Research in Management
Journal ERIM report series research in management Erasmus Research Institute of Management
Meuer, J, & Krug, B. (2009). The Current State of Research on Networks in China’s Business System (No. ERS-2009-007-ORG). ERIM report series research in management Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Retrieved from