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Suzhi development: indigenous approaches to enhancing the quality of human resources

Connie Zheng (Graduate School of Business, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)

Journal of Chinese Human Resource Management

ISSN: 2040-8005

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




This paper aims to examine the Chinese indigenous concept of suzhi (素质) by analyzing its historical evolution and its contemporary implications for human resource management (HRM) research and practice at the national and organizational levels.


An integrated review of literatures in sinology, political science, anthropology and sociology concerned with suzhi-related research, combined with recent incidents associated with suzhi.


Suzhi is an indigenous concept embedded in the centuries-long historical context of China. Suzhi development has been focused on three key dimensions, moral, physical and mental, as a way of building quality employees and citizens. Yet developing and quantifying the moral aspects of suzhi is more challenging than measuring its physical and mental dimensions. Linking suzhi development to human capital theory enriches the understanding of this indigenous concept at both organizational and national levels.

Research limitations/implications

By analyzing a three-dimensional suzhi composite, the article offers an example of how suzhi may be linked to human capital theory and identifies directions for future research.


By analyzing suzhi at organizational and national levels for HRM purposes, this article broadens the suzhi literature from its place in the political sciences and social anthropology to encompass a theoretical analysis in HRM and development for the benefit of organizations and the society.



The author would like to acknowledge the feedback kindly offered by Professor Greg Wang and two anonymous reviewers’ constructive comments appended to an earlier version of the article.


Zheng, C. (2014), "Suzhi development: indigenous approaches to enhancing the quality of human resources", Journal of Chinese Human Resource Management, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 115-128.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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