The human resource barriers to managing quality in China

Linda Glover*, Noel Y M SIU

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    38 Citations (Scopus)


    China has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The challenge for the future is likely to be the extent to which Chinese operations can utilize modern management techniques to improve product and service quality. This paper explores some of the problems that were affecting the management of quality within two foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) based in the Shenzhen region of China. The paper argues that the provision of new factories and machinery was not sufficient in itself to ensure the maintenance of quality standards. Quality management in the West has become synonymous with increased employee involvement and developing customer-orientated cultures (Rees, 1998). The success or otherwise of quality management initiatives therefore depends upon the co-operation and enthusiasm of employees (Wilkinson et al., 1998; Oliver and Wilkinson, 1992). Quality management within the case companies was hampered by the prevailing work ethic and was hindered by inadequate human resource and management systems. The study highlighted poor standards of training, dissatisfaction over levels of remuneration, and poor communication within the case companies. The paper argues that the problems experienced by the companies were inextricably linked to aspects of China's historical development. This history has helped to engender employee attitudes and behaviours that are poorly understood. Models of quality management are needed which are sensitive to the Chinese operating context.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)867-882
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2000

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Strategy and Management
    • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
    • Management of Technology and Innovation

    User-Defined Keywords

    • China
    • Human resource management
    • Joint ventures
    • Motivation
    • Quality management
    • Training


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