Developing embedded human resource management practices in sino-foreign joint ventures

: the Chinese perspective

  • Hong Zhang

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

One of the critical debates in IHRM concerns the influence of globalisation and multinational enterprises on convergence in HRM practices. In this context, much of the literature on HRM policies and practices in Sino-foreign joint ventures (SFJVs) has been written either from this convergence/universalistic perspective, which has emphasised the transfer of Western ‘best practice’, or from a comparative perspective, which is still underpinned by convergence assumptions on the idea of ‘progress’against universalistic Western standards. This literature has pointed out how SFJVshave either transplanted Western-style HRM or else have adapted them to form some kind o f‘hybrid’ HRM mode. Viewed from a relativistic epistemology, however, these models of ‘progress’ may be misleading. Instead, if we look from the perspective of the Chinese managers to see how HRM practices have developed in SFJVs, we are likely to get an alternative account that has less to do with such a ‘progress’ of so called ‘Westernisation’ and convergence and more to do with developing workable HRM policies and practices which are not only differentiated from those of their Western partners and the traditional Chinese personnel management, but also capable of becoming embedded in the distinctive Chinese business system. It is believed that such embedded HRM practices in SFJVs will lead to positive results.

This thesis attempts to see how HRM operates in SFJVs from the perspective of their Chinese HR managers/professionals. Based on a small sample of interviews with Chinese HR managers (i.e. key informants) from various SFJVs in Beijing and a survey of Chinese HR practitioners in 102 SFJVs in the same region, the thesis examines policies and practices in a wide range of HRM activities. The author concludes that, in general, SFJVs have been developing embedded HRM practices by moving away from the Chinese traditional ‘iron rice-bowl’ system. The effectiveness of such workable HRM practices is significantly associated with a ‘hybrid’ corporate culture. More specifically and practically, the HR-related managerial patterns and local managers’HR-related knowledge and skills have been identified, from the Chinese perspective, as two key success factors for SFJVs to enhance the effectiveness of their embedded HRM practices.

This study attempts not only to contribute to the theory regarding how HRM operates in SFJVs and provide evidence to support the institutionalist predictions on the embeddedness of IHRM practices in a SFJV in the national business system of the host country, but also to provide mangers with some practical guidance to enhance HRM effectiveness in SFJVs.
Date of AwardMay 2002
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution

Cite this

Developing embedded human resource management practices in sino-foreign joint ventures: the Chinese perspective
Zhang, H. (Author). May 2002

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis