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Social Networks, Job Search, and Job Earnings in a Transitional Economy: An Institutional Embeddedness Argument

Networks, Work and Inequality

ISBN: 978-1-78190-539-5, eISBN: 978-1-78190-540-1

Publication date: 8 April 2013


Purpose – This study develops a theoretical argument that social networks are embedded in the macro-level institutional environment. From the perspective of institutional embeddedness, I investigate the changing patterns and implications of social networks in job search and job earnings after China's overhaul of its employment system in the mid-1990s.Methodology/approach – The empirical evidence is drawn from 2003 Chinese General Social Survey data. I conduct statistical analyses to examine the roles of networks in job search and earning disparity by comparing two groups who obtained the job before and after the emerging labor market in urban China, respectively.Findings –Social networks have become much more popular in job search in the emerging labor market. Use of social networks in job search has also become more differentiated across job positions and employment organizations. While managerial status of the key helper and direct ties yield greater returns to employee earnings, strong indirect ties make less contribution to job earnings in the emerging labor market than that under the state-dominated employment system.Research implications – The findings suggest that we should analyze the concrete institutional environment to appreciate the roles of social networks in job search and social inequality.Originality/value – This study highlights that institutions are the key factor to shape the patterns and significance of social networks. As institutions evolve, network patterns and their significance can change accordingly.



Zhao, W. (2013), "Social Networks, Job Search, and Job Earnings in a Transitional Economy: An Institutional Embeddedness Argument", Mcdonald, S. (Ed.) Networks, Work and Inequality (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 103-132.



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