Guanxi, Knowledge and High Risk Consumption: Cross-Border Antique Market in Greater China

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 2:15 PM-3:45 PM
CLM.2.04 (Clement House)
Yu Ying Lee, Yuan Ze University, Zhong Li, Taiwan
This paper illustrates the limitation of interpersonal relation in the field of antique market.  For avoiding opportunism and reducing risk, consumers tend to use interpersonal relations in many consumption decisions both in the search process and in the choice of transaction partners.  Buying or trading ancient jades is the same, due to the fact that this typical trade is full of risk, building guanxi becomes a proxy for reducing uncertainty.  This paper argues that antique jade market is a small scale business. There is no formal organization to regulate the market. Information asymmetry, opportunism, and deceit are normal in the trade.  Therefore, what is important in the transactions are personal trust and guanxi as to ensure the transactions.  Ironically, this does not guarantee the traded goods would be genuine.  One-of-a-kind ancient jade is not mass production by factory; knowledge on antique is at stake.  I applied a variety of qualitative research techniques to examine intricate relation between Guanxi and knowledge in ancient jade market.  These techniques include extensive use of in-depth interviews, observation and the use of a variety of documentary sources.  Field trips were done in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Hong Kong from 2009 to 2012.  In total, 57 people were interviewed: including 24 jade collectors, 25 jade dealers, and 8 professional jade scholars.