Shaping guanxi networks at work through instant messaging

Carol Ou, R.M. Davison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Instant messaging (IM) has become increasingly prevalent in social life. However, the use of IM at work remains controversial, owing to its unclear benefits to organizations. In this study, we employ media performance theories and the concept model of communicative ecology to examine the impact of an IM tool on shaping guanxi (i.e., interpersonal relationship) networks in the workplace. Specifically, we propose that IM has the potential to enhance guanxi networks by improving communication quality and building interlocutors' mutual trust in the workplace. The conceptual model is validated with 253 survey responses collected from working professionals in China. The data indicate that communication quality and mutual trust contribute to the development of guanxi networks. The theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1153-1168
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Issue number5
Early online date21 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Computer mediated communications
  • instant messaging systems
  • China


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