Towards a hybrid model? A systematic review of human resource management research on Chinese state-owned enterprises (1993–2017)

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Over the past two decades, there has been a proliferation of research on human resource management (HRM) in Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as a result of the wide-reaching state-sector reform of the late 1980s. This article aims to provide a systematic review of literature on this topic and capture the nature of HRM in Chinese SOEs, both in research and practice. The article draws on 178 studies from 43 English academic journals over a period of 25 years (1993–2017). In analysing this literature and by taking stock of theoretical frameworks, research methods, themes and analysis of academic articles in this area, we have gained a number of insights. The study has found that the research methods used have shifted from qualitative and interpretive methodology toward quantitative and sophisticated modelling. A further insight is that there has been a relatively heavy reliance on institutional theory in the earlier studies reviewed, and since then a switch towards organizational behaviour perspectives. The level of analysis has moved from macro to micro level and thematic foci have become more diverse and complex. We highlight a number of avenues, theoretical and empirical, for future studies in this field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-89
Number of pages43
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • China
  • cultural theories
  • employee behavior
  • institutional theories
  • state-owned enterprise
  • strategic HRM

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