The relation between guanxi (particularistic dyadic ties) and trust in the workplace is widely assumed in the management and organization literature, but little research attention has been given to directly examining the nature of this relationship, or the ways in which Chinese
and Western workplace trust development might differ. I suggest two overlooked factors, culture and conceptualization, that have influenced past studies and explore their impact through an analysis of the literature. Given the nature of Chinese trust, I conclude that the division between affective and cognitive aspects of trust common in the Western organizational literature is not an appropriate model for the Chinese context. Instead, I apply a distinction between rapid trust and process trust that together form a path to development of two forms of workplace guanxi: working guanxi and backdoor guanxi. I then propose a dynamic process model of the social and psychological process of guanxi and trust development in the context of the workplace that incorporates the Chinese indigenous concepts of renqing (favor), ganqing (affection), mianzi (face/reputation), xinren (trust) and xinyong (social credit). This model aligns with the Chinese metaphysical process orientation, and has implications for trust research not only in Chinese societies but also the international community.