State capitalism in construction: Staffing practices and labour relations of Chinese construction firms in Africa

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12 Citations (Scopus)


A distinct feature of China’s involvement in the economic development of African countries in recent years has been the Chinese government’s financing and participation in infrastructure construction projects through its state-owned firms. However, there remains limited academic research on labour relations’ issues concerning Chinese firms in Africa. This article fills part of the research gap by examining key aspects of labour relations of Chinese construction firms operating in Africa. The article mobilises the notion of space in analysing the role of the state and its agencies in shaping the transnational labour market of construction workers and workplace industrial relations. Drawing on data from 52 interviews with managers, professionals and government officials, this study highlights the interdependence and interconnectedness of the Chinese lead construction firms, subcontractor firms and employment agencies on the one hand, and legislative and representational gaps for the Chinese dispatched workers on the other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-100
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Africa
  • Chinese construction firms
  • global production networks
  • labour market
  • labour practices
  • multinational enterprises
  • role of state
  • spatial dimension

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