Fiduciary Duty in a Guanxi Society

Ezra Wasserman Mitchell


China has imported the Anglo-American law of fiduciary duty into its corporate statute. I argue that fiduciary duty confronts a problem. Its transplantation is into the rich cultural soil of guanxi, a soil that is incompatible with the equally richly developed culture of fiduciary duty.

This is the first paper to examine the relationship between fiduciary duty and guanxi. I conclude that, while fiduciary duty may take root in the limited (but important) context of self-dealing transactions, it is likely to fail in its essential function of guiding fiduciary behavior in the presence of a guanxi relationship.

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