China: Managing a Diverse and Multicultural Workforce in Multinationals in a Growth Economy: Issues in Practice

China: Managing a Diverse and Multicultural Workforce in Multinationals in a Growth Economy: Issues in Practice

Stephanie Jones (Maastricht School of Management, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8167-5.ch003


This case follows on from Cases 1 and 2, which suggested a system of analyzing both the Chinese employees and Western expatriate managers of a typical multinational company operating in China. Based on attitudinal, behavioral, and psychological factors, the analysis included career ambitions, consumer habits, and attitudes to foreign companies in China generally. Chinese staff, the author argues (based on more than five years of observation and a detailed survey she conducted), can be categorized as in one of three main types: Chuppies, Westernized and Traditional, or “Mandarins.” Western expatriates can be seen as “Gilded Cage” types, or “Half-Way House,” or “Gone Local.” Understanding these differences can help the head office executive living far from China and the student of China HR issues to gain insights into the important issues of recruiting, motivating, training and developing staff, and achieving results through them – as the author herself discovered in the process of researching this case.
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Setting The Stage

Here we look at a general introduction to the main players in this case – the categories or types of Chinese employees and their Western expatriate bosses in multinational companies operating in China. These are basically behavioral and psychological types, which may be a temporary phase in a person’s life, defined according to the author’s observation and the findings of the questionnaire she employed to understand the attitudes and behaviors (included in cases one and two, as an appendix). Briefly, they can be defined as, in terms of the Chinese employees, as:

  • The Chuppie: A young, upwardly-mobile, well-educated and professional Chinese, focused on self-improvement, increasing earnings, and having fun – similar to a Yuppie in the West but with Chinese characteristics

  • The Westernized Chinese: With extensive overseas exposure, which could include birth and early years, education, work experience – now (back) in China

  • The Mandarin: The traditional Chinese, perhaps born during the Cultural Revolution and still a strong influence, cautious of the West and modernity

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