BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The duality of Chinese management style called guanxi might have a potential difference between Chinese and African ideologies, and may give rise to injustice in some overseas contracting projects leading to conflicts, fights and safety issues. Therefore, effective action is needed in improving Chinese contractors-local workers relationships on project sites. Hence, assessing the extent to which Chinese managers practice guanxi on African workers, and how guanxi is affecting conflict and safety standards shows the extent of hope in mitigating risks and improving management. Specifically, this case study attempted to sort out and rank all difficulties Chinese managers encounter while undertaking hydropower projects in Cameroon, to find out whether or not there is a supervisor-worker guanxi relationship on dam construction sites and whether or not guanxi is implicated in Sino-Cameroonian workers conflict and safety.
METHODS: SWARA method was used to analyze and rank difficulties, qualitative and quantitative assessments were undertaken for theories studies. After a workshop and semi-interview with Decision Makers a first survey was designed to gather scores of difficulties that ended to a ranking from most to least important using SWARA method. Then two questionnaires were structured and sent to local workers and Chinese project engineers, to gather all information about guanxi, conflicts and safety score. After a consistency study on 526 local workers and 40 Chinese manager’s responses selected from three different hydropower projects, the overall Cronbach’s alpha was 0.93 for supervisors and 0.88 for workers.
FINDINGS: The results of SWARA ranking showed that the problem areas giving rise challenges to Chinese contractors are mainly related to the language barrier (W=47.7%) and interpersonal issues (w=13.35%).The findings of hypotheses testing suggest that guanxi is not applied on local workers by Chinese managers with statistics X=4.36<26 and X=2.3514 respectively, thus ,hypotheses H21 and H22 were both supported; yet workers do have conflict relationship and do not feel safe working with Chinese managers stated with statistics 27.4 and 24.9 respectively. However, the application of guanxi may play an important role in positively affecting the conflicts and safety management in Chinese oversea megaprojects. Using these results, recommendations were thrown on project, conflict, and safety management.
CONCLUSION: As the number of Chinese investments in infrastructures in Africa keeps increasing, the findings in this research may provide all parties with crucial information for better understanding of local workers they might hire for their numerous projects. This study has shown that Chinese managers do not practice guanxi on the local workers, yet it may help in improving safety and conflict management. Therefore, there is need for
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