Recruitment at China Sunwah Bank: Guanxi versus talent

Document Type


Publication Title

OB: Key concepts, skills, and best practices


McGraw-Hill Education


School of Business and Law




Grainger, S. (2016). Recruitment at China Sunwah Bank: Guanxi versus talent. In Kinicki, A., Fugate, M., & Digby, V. OB: Key concepts, skills, and best practices (5th ed., pp. 169-173). Whitby, Canada: McGraw-Hill Education.


The human resources department at China Sunwah Bank had to decide on 22 new appointments only 12 of which were officially advertised to Sunwah Banks 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?

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