Towards a human-centred business and economic model? Megatrends and human resources management in China

Cooke, F.L (2021) Chapter 5 in Book: Towards a human-centred agenda: Human resource management in the BRICS countries in the face of global challenges, International Labour Organisation

Although HRM in China is often considered to be at a rudimentary stage, a number of leading firms have been quite innovative in developing HRM practices as part of their strategy to attract and retain talented staff and enhance organizational competitiveness.
This chapter outlines some of the developments in business models at the industry and firm level in China with reference to the broad economic context and challenges. It identifies locally developed HRM strategies (such as those devised by municipalities and companies), policies and practices; addresses specific challenges in this field; and illustrates how a systematic transformation is possible, driven by the evolution of the State’s governance ideology and aided by digital technology. Pragmatism, flexibility and a bottom-up approach are identified as among the common characteristics of well-performing firms. The chapter also shows how these developments have led, if only to a limited extent, to improved HRM outcomes, thereby contributing to the implementation of the human-centred agenda for the future of work promoted by the ILO. These are, however, only snapshots of certain aspects of good and new HRM practices in some of the most successful Chinese companies. Even in the case of seemingly good practices, the extent to which they are indeed human centred is debatable.

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