Reconciling multiple institutional logics for ambidexterity: human resource management reforms in Chinese public universities

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Over the past several decades, Chinese universities have introduced various Western-style human resource management (HRM) practices to improve organizational performance. Such HRM innovations have resulted in new employment relations and paradoxical HR practices, which cannot be explained by the unitary institutional logic assumed by conventional HRM theories. Based on in-depth interviews of academic and administrative members, this study examines how Chinese universities struggle to reconcile competing institutional logics through HR innovations for ambidexterity. Our research reveals a unique transformation trajectory of personnel management in Chinese public universities. The findings indicate that human resource management in Chinese universities has been influenced by multiple logics of socialism, market, and corporation, heading along the neoliberal and managerial route while being shaped by strong state regulations. Chinese universities still have a long way to go to reconcile multiple institutional logics and achieve ambidexterity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-636
Number of pages26
JournalHigher Education
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Ambidexterity
  • Chinese public universities
  • Employment relationship
  • Human resource management reform
  • Institutional logic

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