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A Study of People Management in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in China

Cunningham, L.X. (2007). A Study of People Management in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in China. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


China's rapid economic development and the emergence of its large firms have had much attention and commentary, but the important role of small businesses has received less focus. Therefore, the main objective of this thesis is to explore small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in China, with specific attention to people management. It examines the nature of people management in SMEs in China by assessing the extent to which human resource management (HRM) practices are appIfed in the organisations, and by evaluating the cultural and institutional impacts on human resource '{HR) practices adopted in these firms. Using a survey questionnaire and an in-depth semi-structured interview, an investigation of people management in SMEs was carried out centred on three main research questions: what is the role of the HR/personnel function in SMEs?; to what extent are HRM practices applied to SMEs?; and what are institutional and cultural factors that affect HRM take-up in SMEs? Several key findings are derived from this study. First, people management in SMEs is different from the traditional Chinese personnel administration system in the following ways: the terminology; the role of HR manager; the importance of the personnel function in the . ~-, organisation; the range of powers of the HR department; and the position of the personnel department in the company. Second, the extent of current HRfpractices in SMEs in China shows a slow convergence to Western HRM practices while the transferability is affected by cultural and institutional factors. Third, there are some similarities between people management in SMEs in China and management practices in SMEs in the West. These resemblances include the vulnerability ofSMEs in a changing environment; the difficulties in finding and retaining highly qualified employees; and an informal approach to key HR practices, namely, employee resourcing, training, and relations. Overall, the nature of people management in SMEs in China displays transitional features. In addition, this thesis suggests that current HR practices in SMEs could be improved and/or adjusted so as to support SMEs' future development in China.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Departments: Bayes Business School
Doctoral Theses
Bayes Business School > Bayes Business School Doctoral Theses
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