Table of Contents

The Development of Human Resource Management Across Nations

The Development of Human Resource Management Across Nations

Unity and Diversity

Edited by Bruce E. Kaufman

This volume contains country studies of the historical development of human resource management (HRM) in seventeen different nations. The nations span all regions of the world and each chapter is written by a national expert. Primary attention is given to HRM developments in industry, but university research and teaching are also covered. Human resource management is defined broadly to include industrial relations and each chapter places the historical development of HRM in a broad political, social, and economic context.

Chapter 5: The evolution of human resource management in China: traditions, reforms and developments

Xiangquan Zeng, Liwen Chen and Zhongxing Su

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, economics and finance, labour economics


In this chapter, the evolution of human resource management (HRM) in China is divided into five stages. In chronological order, the first stage is the nascent form of labor management seen before the First Opium War (1840). Some traditional styles of labor management during this period are mentioned along with their social roots and cultural connotations. Next, the traditional form of Chinese labor management collided with western management patterns (1842–1917). China opened its door to the outside world after the First Opium War and was forced to participate in global competition. This shift not only brought the first wave of westernization and industrialization to China, but it also brought in the ideologies and experience of labor management from industrialized countries, which exerted a deep influence on the traditional labor management patterns. Third, from 1918 to 1949, labor problems grew along with industrial development. HRM practices in some enterprises were affected by the scientific management movement, while other enterprises continued to use traditional labor control methods. Escalating conflicts between labor and management pressed the government regimes to engage in labor legislation activities. Fourth, a highly centralized labor-personnel management system was established after the foundation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC, 1949); this system featured the “iron institutions,” namely the “iron rice bowl” and the “iron wage system”.

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