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Title: Developing knowledge resources through bridging information asymmetries in network-based informal labour markets : a study of privately-owned manufacturing firms in China
Author: Ko, Wai Wai
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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The purpose of knowledge resource development is considered to be to generate and acquire the necessary knowledge for developing a firm's specific capability. In this research, I explore the patterns of knowledge resource development practice among privately-owned Chinese SME manufacturers in the informal network-based labour market. More specifically, this research focuses on exploring how privately-owned Chinese SME manufacturers attain skilled workers by bridging information asymmetries to improve both employers and employees' awareness of the skill availability in the informal labour markets that can usually be viewed as complex networked systems in the Chinese context. Through conducting an in- depth, qualitative study of 86 Chinese engineers, I identify three key aspects that explain the pattern of this phenomenon: (1) the informal rules existing within the social networks; (2) the employer's ability and strategy for acquiring skilled workers from the social networks; and (3) the skilled worker's (employee's) use of social networks to enhance employability and eventually contribute to the firm's knowledge resources. I develop an organizing framework for the process of knowledge resource development through social networks in the Chinese context to connect these three aspects. I found that, in Chinese society, the owner, senior managers and employees use guanxi (social capital in the Chinese context) to identify the individual workers, in their social network, who possess the specific skills, and encourage them to share their expertise and manpower with each other and the firm. The key contributions of this thesis are: (l) extending the current understanding of social networks by examining their application in the privately-owned Chinese manufacturing sector by providing a comprehensive picture of the way in which they develop knowledge resources through bridging information asymmetries in the network-based informal labour market; (2) identifying seven specific informal rules (namely, "anonymity", "huibao", "lun", "liyi", "mianzi", "renqing", and "integrated" rules) that have been widely used in guiding this labour matching process in the privately-owned Chinese SME manufacturing sector; (3) exploring how the owners and senior managers of privately-owned Chinese SME manufacturers use different dimensions of guanxi to gain advantages when engaging in recruitment practices through social networks to acquire skilled workers; (4) exploring the influences of different dimensions of guanxi with regard to job searching, job matching and compensation negotiating activities; and (5) extending the current understanding about connecting social capital and guanxi by providing a more detailed discussion of the connection between social capital and guanxi; developing guanxi specifications that link to specific dimensions of social capital, and using these connections to interpret the data. In general, this thesis explores Chinese firms' strategies for using social networks to attain skilled workers who contribute towards their knowledge of the resource development process. It also offers managerial insights for entrepreneurs who wish to enter the industry. 3
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available