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Theorizing Chinese Employment Relations Comparatively: Exchange, Reciprocity and the Moral Economy

Robert Westwood (), Andrew Chan () and Stephen Linstead ()

Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 2004, vol. 21, issue 3, 365-389

Abstract: This paper contrasts the socio-cultural systems underpinning employment relations in the West and in the Overseas Chinese case. The analysis centres on the norm of reciprocity which, whilst taken as a universal phenomena, exhibits significant cross-cultural variation. Western employment relations are characterised by a model of impersonal rational economic exchange in which individuals engage in a utility calculus. Chinese employment relations remain more fully embedded in the wider socio-cultural system of which reciprocity is a vital and integral part. Employment relations are sustained by a personalistic tacit moral order. The implications for managing employment relations in changing and multi-cultural situations are discussed. The sustainabilty of the different employment relations systems are also discussed.

Date: 2004
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