Supply chains and labour standards in China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

5 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-571
Journal / PublicationPersonnel Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


Purpose: This paper aims to examine the relations between supply chain strategies and impact on terms and conditions of employment of multinational corporations operating in China. Design/methodology/approach: Case study analysis of two production plants owned by leading multinational corporations, and a number of their suppliers (five in total), was undertaken. Semi-structured interviews with managers (personnel, production and supply chain) and workers in each case study were conducted both to gain information and to triangulate evidence. Visits were made to each of the factories and to the environment in which the workers lived and worked. Findings: There is no uniform or single deterministic relationship between supply chains and labour standards. Supply chain strategies, ownership form and industry are all determinants of the relationship. However, size, as measured in terms of number of employees, does not seem a significant factor in power relations. There is also a balance between cost squeeze and other factors (the potential of cost saving, desire for predictability) in relations between existing firms in a supply chain. Originality/value: Analysis of management practices and its relationship with employment issues in supply chain theory is still not well integrated. Part of the reason lies in the concerns of each discipline. By treating supply chain concerns as a menu of issues rather than an integrative theory, through case study analysis, a nuanced and explanatory detail can be given. These will need later repetition in quantitative or qualitative forms of research. Ontologically, the paper attempts to draw together the critical research and business school approaches to strategic management concerns. While both approaches provide a wealth of substantive evidence, there is a need to read from both perspectives to be able to catch the nature of work organisation and the management practices that inform them in China. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Research Area(s)

  • China, Korean firms, Labour, Labour standards, Multinational companies, Multinationals, Supply chain management, Supply chains

Citation Format(s)

Supply chains and labour standards in China. / Taylor, Bill.
In: Personnel Review, Vol. 41, No. 5, 07.2012, p. 552-571.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review