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One Store, Two Employment Systems: Core, Periphery and Flexibility in China's Retail Sector

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  • Jos Gamble
  • Qihai Huang

Abstract

Research on 'flexible' or 'contingent work', derived primarily from manufacturing and production contexts in Western settings, has often been theorized in terms of a core-periphery model. Based upon ethnographic research on vendor representatives and regular store employees conducted at a multinational retail firm in China, we indicate that this model is insufficient to capture the complexity of employment arrangements in this context. This article delineates the coexistence of two employment systems and a quadrilateral relationship in which workers' interests sometimes overlap but often compete. Our research also indicates that institutional arrangements in China significantly affect the strategies that are open to firms and the consequent structure of employment relations. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd/London School of Economics 2008.

Suggested Citation

  • Jos Gamble & Qihai Huang, 2009. "One Store, Two Employment Systems: Core, Periphery and Flexibility in China's Retail Sector," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 47(1), pages 1-26, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:47:y:2009:i:1:p:1-26
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:oup:jecgeo:v:17:y:2017:i:1:p:1-29. is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Bruce E. Kaufman, 2013. "The economic organization of employment: systems in human resource management and industrial relations," Chapters,in: Handbook of Economic Organization, chapter 16 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Jos Gamble, 2010. "Transferring Organizational Practices and the Dynamics of Hybridization: Japanese Retail Multinationals in China," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 705-732, June.

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