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Human resource management changes in China: a case study of the banking industry

Poon, H. F. I. (2009). Human resource management changes in China: a case study of the banking industry. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


Change in human resource management (HRM) has attracted attention in a range of management disciplines. Examining the influences on HRM change relates to several areas, including the discussion of convergence and divergence, institutional forces and cultural heritages, as well as HRM transferability and adoption. Evidence supporting these views remains diverse and not complete enough to explain the issues. To address the gap in the literature, the current research conducted an in-depth study of the banking industry in the People's Republic of China (henceforth China). China's entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its economic reforms have exerted pressures on local Chinese banks (LCBs) while offering business opportunities to foreign-invested banks (FIBs). Two research questions were formulated: (1) to assess if LCBs and FIBs operating in China have changed their HRM practices towards or from each other; and (2) to examine which contextual factors relate to HRM change.

Based on the research findings, changes were observed in both LCBs and FIBs during the period 2000 to 2008 in several HRM areas ("change content"), including resourcing and retention, rewards and performance, and training and development. LCBs used many Western HRM practices. Objective-setting performance management, graduate trainee programme, market-adjusted bonus schemes etc. were introduced due to competition and institutional isomorphism ("change context"). However, some of these changes were implemented for a couple of years but were not successfully carried forward because resistance was felt from employees and organisation inertia restrained LCBs from full absorption of new practices. On the other hand, FIBs transferred many global HRM practices to their local branches. Embedded culture and contingent impediments made neither customisation of global plans nor adoption of local approaches easy.

It is argued that (a) while transfer and adoption of HRM practices was observed, the inter-group change between LCBs and FIBs was much larger and faster than intra-group change between FIBs home and host countries. (b) The change process was not smooth; rather, across-time change was in the form of waves and characterised by delays and oscillations. It is not sure (c) if change outcome would result in LCBs and FIBs having their HRM systems converged towards something similar, formed a hybrid transitionary model, or remained diverge. Finally, (d) firm nationality and firm size had significantly influence on HRM decision, but firm age did not have any change relationship with HRM practices.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
Doctoral Theses
Bayes Business School > Bayes Business School Doctoral Theses
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