Recruitment at China Sunwah Bank: Guanxi versus Talent
(5 pages of text)
The human resources department at China Sunwah Bank had to decide on 22 new appointments — only 12 of which were officially advertised — to Sunwah Bank’s 28 branches. More than 4,000 applications had been received and the final list of candidates based on merit had been reduced to 48. The department members had spent many hours reading applications and conducting interviews; however, some members had been coping with specific endorsements for certain applicants from government officials, friends, former teachers and bank managers in a system known as “guanxi,” which was based on a reciprocal exchange of favours that bound individuals together. The challenge was how to choose the most qualified and talented recruits for the new positions at Sunwah Bank, keeping in mind the guanxi-based requests for favours from important stakeholders and friends — including some who had granted significant favours to Sunwah Bank executives in the past. The choice would require sensitivity and cultural awareness. Who would the department hire and why?
Students engaging with this case will be required to
- Identify, analyze and understand the importance of guanxi in recruitment processes at Chinese banks.
- Identify and develop strategies to promote cultural harmony and productivity in national banks in China.
- Develop management skills to satisfy the culturally sensitive Chinese business culture.
- Show sensitivity and confidence in developing strategies and arguments to support recruitments and appointments in non-Western cultures.
Finance and Insurance
China, Large, 2013
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