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RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION PROCESSES IN AUSTRALIA AND CHINA: REWARDS FROM COMMON SENSE AND PLAIN DEALING.

Carolyn Dickie, Curtin Business School, Curtin University of Technology Laurence Dickie, Curtin Business School, Curtin University of Technology

Abstract

Western practices of recruitment and selection are not transferable, easily or automatically, by multi-national or local companies entering the economically vibrant Chinese market. In the current paper, Western HR functions are compared with Eastern, Chinese approaches; the major finding being that, although similar language is used to describe HR processes, cultural factors affect the practices differently.

Introduction:

Since introducing a market economy in 1978, China has been one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. In recent times expansion has occurred throughout the world, and interest in China has exploded to the stage where China fever is a world-wide syndrome. Furthermore, with its entry into the World Trade Organisation in 2001, China was immediately recognised as one of the world’s economic superpowers.

By the turn of the century, China was reported to command in excess of a forty-two percent share of all foreign investment in Asia (Glover & Siu, 2000). Similarly, in 2000, there were over sixty thousand foreigners living in the capital city of Beijing, the focal point for Chinese commerce (Yu, 2001). Many more operated in cities across the country, a majority of whom were employed by multinational companies and brought with them western management practices (Ding et al., 2000). Thus, in China, there has arisen an awareness of the need to adopt more effective human management practices in state-owned enterprises (Ding et al., 2000), to influence the lives of consumers, employees and citizens (Fishman, 2005) through its rapidly changing, reformed economy; an activity which presents some interesting challenges to organisations, employers and employees.

In the West, studies conducted in the United States and the United Kingdom have demonstrated a causal link between the operation of human resource management practices and organisational performance (Huselid, 1995; MacDuffie, 1995; Ichniowski et al., 1996; Patterson et al., 1998). These studies concluded that coherent, integrated human resource techniques lead to increased output, productivity and overall organisational performance. However, less is known about changing HR issues in China, and introducing change to traditional state-owned enterprises may prove to be far more complex and difficult than introducing them into newly established multinational organisations.

The constrained enthusiasm of the new generation of Chinese managers towards learning Western management practices (Gamble, 2000) is understandable and, as suggested by Purcell (1999), there is the need for a careful study of organisational contexts before ambitions to integrate Western and Eastern HR practices may be considered realistic. One of the most important aspects of organisational context is having an understanding of current practices in the two management styles.

Consequently, the purpose in the current paper was to compare the ‘Western’ human resource functions of recruitment and selection with the ‘Eastern’ approaches used in China. An overview of the culture of both China and Australia was included and an examination of the current recruitment and selection practices was undertaken.

National Overview

Australia

As a young nation which became federated in 1901, Australia is a member of the British Commonwealth with an approximate population of twenty million people primarily located in a few major urbanised cities. The vast majority of people (93%) is Caucasian and the predominant language is English. Asians comprise only 7% of its total population (World Factbook, 2005). Australia, being rich in natural resources, has built in only 100 years a strong economy with a per capita GDP...
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