Ideological and cultural factors do not define or influence the
way labor relations are conducted in China's workplace, as many
suppose they do. Oakley shows that the impact of the global market
has significantly altered the way labor relations are actually
practiced in China, which follows what she calls a global market
paradigm. Nevertheless, Maoism and Confucianism continue to
influence labor relations in China, and the ideological and
cultural remnants still to be found could affect China's relations
with other nations for years to come. Instead of taking a
macro-level, industrial-relations approach common to other studies
of Chinese labor, Oakley provides an in-depth look at the problems
emerging on the shop floor, in the wake of economic reform. She
provides translations of actual case histories, each of which
details the causes of disputes, the various methods that were found
to resolve them, and their eventual outcomes. At a broader level of
analysis, her book tends to support convergence theories, of which
globalization is the latest, proving that there are other features
in contemporary market labor relations that have emerged in China
in direct response to the demands of global competition. The result
is a superbly detailed examination of a topic too little covered
and seldom well understood.
Oakley begins by considering the features of market labor
relations and the emergence of a globalization-friendly style, in
both Western and Asian economics. She continues with an analysis of
the ideological and cultural dimensions of the relationship between
managers and managed. In the next three chapters, she discusses the
causes, resolution methods, and labor dispute outcomes. In each
case she refers to the evidence of market, Maoist, and Confucian
influences. The conclusion she draws is that while Confucian ideas
and traces of Maoism continue to have an impact on the development
and resolution of labor disputes in post-reform China overall,
Chinese labor relations conform to the demands of the global, not
the provincial, marketplace.
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