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Recruiting high‐tech managerial talents in China: an institutional perspective

Serena Rovai (Grenoble Ecole de Management, Beijing, People's Republic of China)

Journal of Technology Management in China

ISSN: 1746-8779

Article publication date: 30 May 2008



The paper is part of the growing research on human resource management (HRM) in foreign multinational companies (MNCs) operating in the PRC. The purpose of this paper is to examine the critical role played by the host contextual factors on recruitment policies adoption for foreign high‐tech corporations operating in the PRC. In particular, the paper analyses the influence of institutional factors on “talent recruitment” and related policies and practices. In this perspective, the institutionalization theory was instrumental in explaining the degree to which recruitment policies and practices have been adapted, or not, to the host country environment or are more similar to those of multinational's headquarters and related standardised practices. The paper reviews the diverse studies related to people management in China and it stresses the lack of research for talents recruitment and selection in the PRC despite the critical situation in the local labour market.


This is an empirical paper based on a case‐study and field interviews.


This paper aims to provide an exploration of the main challenges and key issues for foreign high‐tech MNCs in recruiting managerial talents in the local labour market. It stresses the importance of the institutional context and its interaction with recruitment policies and practices. In particular, the study provides an overview of how the institutional environment has affected the transfer and adoption of specific recruitment policies in China and has resulted in an «adjustment» of their global HRM policies.

Research limitations/implications

As a result of opportunistic contacts and time‐constraints, this research is limited to western MNCs operating in China. However, it would be relevant to investigate the situation for talent recruitment and selection in local Chinese private companies in relation to the on‐going transformation and growing presence of those companies in the local labour market. Furthermore, the study only focuses on high‐tech MNCs without considering the situation and possible diverse variables and scenarios arising in diverse industrial companies.


The paper is of value in that it confirms that now‐a‐days, as in the past, despite the on‐going institutional transformation –, i.e. the approval of a new labour law – foreign high‐tech MNCs recruitment policies and practices in China are still affected by a coercive isomorphism despite the still limited influence of a mimetic and normative isomorphism through the dissemination of best practices by top business organisations and HRM consulting firms in the market. More specifically, the paper emphasises the negative role of the existing labour system – evolving from the system derived from previous China‐specific centrally planned economy – and the fact that it prevents transfer and complete implementation of globally standardised HRM policies in China for an effective recruitment of high‐tech managerial profiles in high‐tech MNCs.



Rovai, S. (2008), "Recruiting high‐tech managerial talents in China: an institutional perspective", Journal of Technology Management in China, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 181-193.



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