Guest editors: Sarosh Kuruvilla and Eli Friedman
From Human Relations
This special issue exemplifies experiments and developments in China. In this introduction to ‘Changing work, labor and employment relations in China’, authors argue that China is taking an experimental and decentralized approach to the development of new labor relations frameworks. The Chinese labor market, characterized by significant oversupply during the 1990s, is currently witnessing unprecedented instability, with acute labor shortages, rising industrial conflict and high levels of turnover. This issue represents starting points for a number of promising avenues of research inquiry.
Eli Friedman and Sarosh Kuruvilla
Experimentation and decentralization in China’s labor relations Human Relations February 2015 68: 181-195, doi:10.1177/0018726714552087
In this introduction to the special issue ‘Changing work, labour and employment relations in China’, we argue that China is taking an experimental and decentralized approach to the development of new labor relations frameworks. Particular political constraints in China prevent interest aggregation among workers, as the central state sees this as posing a risk to social stability. Firms and local governments have been given a degree of space to experiment with different arrangements, as long as the categorical ban on independent unions is not violated. The consequence has been an increasingly differentiated labor relations landscape, with significant variation by region and sector. We note some countervailing tendencies towards re-centralization, but emphasize that this phenomenon remains largely confined to the municipal level. The five articles in this special issue address different aspects of both experimentation and decentralization in labor relations.