شکار غیرقانونی و کمبود مهارت های محلی کارکنان تولید در بین MNEs در چین
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of World Business, Volume 48, Issue 2, April 2013, Pages 186–195
Using a mixed-method approach, we examine the experiences and responses among foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) of employee poaching and skills shortages in a prominent Chinese electronics manufacturing hub (Suzhou Industrial Park). This highlights strategic challenges MNEs face in Asia Pacific economies as more advanced subsidiaries outgrow their earlier low-cost, low-skill vocations. In examining poaching empirically, we also extend the field by introducing a local labour market perspective into the study of HRM in China. Third, we advance theorization of employee poaching beyond mainstream Western approaches to capture the interactions between internal and local labour markets that increasingly mark FIE manufacturing in fast developing economies.
Multinational enterprises (MNEs) have greatly increased their levels of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Asia-Pacific countries. This is particularly so for China (UNCTAD, 2009, p. 20). The early impetus was to take advantage of abundant, cheap labour for low-cost, simple, manufacturing for global supply chains (Whalley & Xin, 2010). Over time, foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) have gradually reshaped host environments through interacting with them. Host governments have sought to foster FIE knowledge transfer that raises local technological and economic profiles. These processes also shift FDI patterns of technological complexity and subsidiaries’ positions in supply chains. More advanced, complex FIEs located in more developed areas outgrow earlier low-cost, low-skill missions in favour of higher quality, sophisticated products and complex manufacturing technologies (Huggins et al., 2007 and Lau and Bruton, 2008). Three sets of data are illustrative. One is rising levels of FDI in research and development (R&D). The Asia Pacific, especially China and India, attracted more than half of global R&D FDI between 2002 and 2005 (Huggins et al., 2007, p. 442). Second, MNEs have greatly increased the number of R&D centres in China: from fewer than 50 in 1997 to around 1200 in 2009 (Freeman, 2006, p. 131; Ministry of Commerce, 2010). Third, there are the changing sectoral FDI shares. According to China's National Bureau of Statistics (2006, 2010),2 the share of FDI in manufacturing fell from 61% to 56% between 2005 and 2009, doubled in the information technology and computer sector and increased in higher-level services. These FDI shifts to high-end manufacturing and services suggest concomitant labour market effects. Local authorities compete to attract new FIEs and to foster expansion of existing ones. This, together with changing strategies of FIEs, structurally underpins rising demand for more skilled manufacturing labour (hereafter ‘skilled workers’) in advanced localities. China's vocational education and training (VET) system however receives criticism for not supplying sufficient workers with appropriate skills: an important supply-side cause of skill shortages (Hutchings et al., 2009 and Li et al., 2011a). Employers face a vicious circle within these local labour markets (LLMs) as demand outstrips supply and central government residency policies constrain labour market adjustment through internal migration. Skilled workers benefit from having more labour market choices and the rising wages accompanying skills shortages and high turnover. For FIEs though, these phenomena pose major challenges, especially in advanced areas like the Pearl River and Yangtze River Deltas where there are vast numbers of manufacturing FIEs clustered into specialized economic zones, often dedicated to a single sector. These function as LLMs (ADB, 2010, Chen, 2007 and Li et al., 2011b). High turnover from FIEs is particularly prevalent in these tight LLMs. This reflects territorial FIE clustering as a proxy for advanced development (Lau and Bruton, 2008 and Li and Sheldon, 2011) and FIEs’ knowledge transfer roles. Some firms respond by poaching labour from their neighbours, intensifying LLM competition. Poaching is ‘targeting a competitor's pool of employees as part of a systematic recruiting effort’ (Gardner, 2002, p. 228). The prevalence of poaching discourages firms from investing in training that could redress their skill shortages, reinforcing negative links between external and internal labour markets (AmCham, 2009, Cooke, 2005 and Jiang et al., 2009). We examine poaching amid localized skill shortages in Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), a high-end, Yangtze River Delta park (in Jiangsu Province) for leading manufacturing FIEs. Business and management research has largely developed and tested theory in a Western context. Already in 1986 however, Adler, Doktor, and Redding (1986) argued that the Pacific Basin's rapid economic growth made imperative cross-cultural examination of cognitions in managerial behaviour. They wanted (p. 300) a shift from a non-self-reflective focus on ‘occidental’ cognitive maps – that tend, among other things, to separate ‘the organization from its environment’ – to awareness of ‘oriental’ ones. Despite China's emergence as economic power and management research site since then, ‘deductive theory testing using theories developed in the West’ (Tsui, 2009, p. 4) remains dominant. Debates over theory and context posit a choice between developing a ‘theory of Chinese management’ and a ‘Chinese theory of management’ (Barney & Zhang, 2009). The former means applying and refining Western theories against Chinese empirical experience – to make those theories more universal; the latter, understanding particular Chinese phenomena uniquely in their Chinese context, thereby abandoning any search for universality. Our approach differs. It draws on Adler et al.’s (1986) call to contextualize research in ways sensitive to context. China's enormous size and population and its internal geographic and historical diversity suggest that research should be sensitive to context but also context specificity (Whetten, 2009). Using this type of approach, we seek to refine and improve Western-originated theories while also contributing insights into factors that make Chinese situations particular. In this case, the mainstream (Western) approach to poaching concerns itself with the high occupational end of high technology sectors in advanced economies. ‘Competition’ is defined by product markets or by area of applied knowledge and poaching involves raiding scarce and valuable product market or intellectual property knowledge from a competitor ( Freedman, 2000, Gardner, 2002 and Gardner, 2005a). It is a ‘war for talent’ and for the intellectual property embedded in those people. The phenomenon examined here is different. SIP's skilled workers do not fit that literature's notions of ‘scarce’ or ‘valuable’, and hence, would not be worth poaching (Lepak & Snell, 1999). China, as a cheap labour-surplus country, attracts manufacturing FDI as (advanced economy) MNEs relocate production, not scarce and valuable labour. However, once in China, FIEs facing local chronic skill shortages face more constrained choices, the effects of which clearly differentiate localized poaching from that in the literature. First, this poaching operates primarily against LLM competitors. Second, product market competition matters little as the firms involved are mostly assembly or production segments of global supply chains. Finally, the human capital embedded in any one employee is relatively low but highly transferable; that is other employers can easily make use of it ( Stevens, 1996). Poachers aim to meet their immediate quantitative needs for appropriately skilled workers. There is a particular need to investigate this topic. Employers aggravate skill shortages by poaching and their unwillingness to invest in training, choices that make sense given LLM realities. While common elsewhere, China's size and rapid development make the issue much more dramatic. Table 1 shows average rates of skill shortages among different skill categories in 119 Chinese cities. The higher the skill category, the greater is the skill shortage. As cities display different levels of development and labour market dynamism, these averages mask more intense skill shortages and poaching in highly developed localities.This article contributes in three main ways. First, it furnishes exploratory research on significant HRM challenges facing FIEs in China's advanced areas, with likely applicability to FIEs in similar Asia-Pacific localities. This exploration responds to the following empirical questions: What are employers’ experiences of skills shortages and poaching?; How do they choose to respond?; and Which factors influence their responses? These, our starting questions, responded to those significant, emerging HRM challenges. Yet, case study findings from our exploratory work contradicted important assumptions underlying the dominant approaches to HRM in China. By confronting those assumptions through our findings, we embarked on a process of ‘contribution to theory’ via ‘observation informing theory’ (Whetten, 2009, p. 35). Through those questions, we draw attention to interactions between firm-level HRM and LLM context. Our second major contribution, to research practice and theory, is therefore an overdue reorientation to the local. An LLM focus is particularly relevant for examining employers’ experiences of and responses to skill shortages and poaching in China yet, the literature overwhelmingly ignores it, treating China as a national labour market or, at best, a series of regional ones. Recent literature surveys do not even list LLMs as a level or topic of analysis (Cooke, 2009, Poon and Rowley, 2007, Warner, 2008, Warner, 2009, Zheng and Lamond, 2009 and Zhu et al., 2008). Instead, scholars focus on ownership form, firm size, or sector. To leave the local unexamined, provides insufficient contextualization for the study of these sorts of phenomena. Indeed, Whetten (2009, p. 31) warns that development or testing of ‘propositional theory’ may unwittingly ‘yield a distorted understanding’ of phenomena studied and misses opportunities for improving ‘the contextual sensitivity’ of theories borrowed from other contexts. This article's third major contribution is conceptual. It came through acknowledging that mainstream theory of employee poaching cannot explain our initial findings. Our development of a new model of poaching substantially extends and improves Gardner, 2002 and Gardner, 2005a leading work by adding a second level and an additional construct. It does this by contextualizing research on poaching in a unique Chinese context through an LLM lens. We were then able to test our new, context-sensitive model against our context-specific data. In this way, we hope that our research also makes a contribution of theory towards a better understanding of local phenomena under examination ( Whetten, 2009). Perhaps counter-intuitively, contextualization thus introduces greater conceptual clarity and generalizability to the mainstream literature. It also fosters more contextualized understanding of phenomena in China, thereby providing for theory that is more context-sensitive to location, but also to sector and workforce segment. By providing this more nuanced and spatially sensitive approach to employer motivations and strategies, this article is also more relevant to practice, policy and research on labour markets in other fast-developing Asia-Pacific areas. Our literature review on poaching precedes a brief introduction to SIP. Case study results follow. These underpin development of our model of employer responses and our research hypotheses for the survey. Subsequent sections present survey design and methods, survey findings, discussion and conclusions.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This article makes a substantial contribution in the three directions we posited. The case study and survey findings answer our three main empirical questions. First, the prevalence of poaching in SIP is very high, intensifying inter-firm competition among employers; longer-standing and larger firms suffer most. Second, employers choose a variety of responses, but contextual factors render retaliatory responses ineffectual and of little interest; intra-firm defensive and constructive responses are most successful. Third, firm-based HRM responds to poaching by connecting internal labour markets with LLM constraints. This highlights the second and third major contributions. These are the adoption of an LLM perspective for studying HRM in China and, through this innovation, our development of a new model of poaching which is not only more generalizable but also more contextually sensitive to explaining labour market phenomena in China's most advanced areas. Facing LLM challenges, employers adopt defensive practices that make them less vulnerable to poaching, and/or constructive ones that make them more competitive in retention. Although we find defensive and constructive responses to be conceptually and empirically distinct, our data show that employers need not choose one or the other exclusively. Their choices reflect their LLM and internal challenges, business strategies and workforce skill profiles, and the role played by HRM departments. Surprisingly, despite experiencing poaching, employers choose to provide training with substantial transferable components, thereby discarding a defensive response. Skilled workforce profile influences how much to provide. To not provide this training creates risks to production quality for higher-end FIEs and facilitates poaching if disgruntled employees seek to better themselves outside. Thus, training investment can defend itself by aiding retention. Finally, larger firms whose production processes require more highly skilled workforces cannot rely on SIP's LLM. This also explains choices of other constructive responses.