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The Centre for Workplace Research in Asian Societies

The Centre for Workplace Research in Asian Societies

The Centre for Workplace Research in Asian Societies (CWRAS) is based at Royal Holloway, University of London. The centre brings together a number of researchers and research projects that focus upon the study of workplaces in the Asian region.

Our intention with CWRAS is to:

  • Create a forum for the discussion and dissemination of research on work and workplaces in Asia, especially the Asia Pacific region.
  • Promote research that places management and employment change in contemporary workplaces in the dynamic Asia Pacific region centre stage.
  • Nurture and foster research that takes seriously the importance of economic, political, geographic and sociological contexts.
  • Provide a liaison point for both UK-based and international scholars with similar and related interests. 

Contact the Directors:

Professor Chris Smith 
Phone: +44 (0)1784 276656 

Professor Jos Gamble 
Phone: +44 (0)1784 414094 

Postal address

The Centre for Workplace Research in Asian Societies, 
The School of Management, 
The Moore Building, 
Royal Holloway University of London, 
TW20 0EX

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This study explores the pressures of standardisation and differentiation in employment relations in China. The study critically reviews the literature on employment and labour relations in China and the argument that there has been a juridification of and hence standardisation of employment relations, especially in so-called sunrise industries. It also challenges the idea that internationalisation of employment relations as a consequence of the spread of transnational companies is squeezing the space for workplace level employment relations diversity. Finally it examines the transfer literature, which suggests firms move their employment relations with them when they internationalise, especially where local institutional practice are weak and home practices mature and robust. 

This paper reports on two case studies carried out as part of Dr Yu Zheng's PhD research. It has been submitted to the Journal of Industrial Relations and it is now under review. » Abstract

This project documents and analyses the transfer of management practices and retail concepts by multinational retailers from the United Kingdom and Japan to China and explores their reception by and impact upon Chinese employees and customers. 

This project runs from April 2003 to April 2007: the Principal Investigator is Prof. Jos Gamble, and Research Assistant is Dr Qihai Huang.

Chinese workers, labour turnover and management control

During 2002 Prof. Chris Smith had a sabbatical at the Chinese Management Centre, The University of Hong Kong and completed a paper on the use of dormitories for labour retention and control in Southern China. This preparatory research laid the ground for collaboration with two researchers on Chinese workers, labour turnover and management control. Fieldwork in China began with Dr Alicia Leung, Department of Management, Hong Kong Baptist University in 2002, and has been followed up in 2006 and 2007. Further research trips are planned in 2008, as the same factories are studied as they evolve management methods in an increasing competitive labour market in Shenzhen. The focus of this work is on retention of labour, training, skill formation and work organisation.

Use of dormitories in Foreign Invested Enterprises in China

A second project started in 2002 on comparative case studies in the use of dormitories in Foreign Invested Enterprises in China with Dr Pun Ngai, Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology . This was supported by a grant from the Hong Kong Research Grant Council. Papers in Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Work, Employment and Society and the International Journal of Human Resource Management have appeared from this project.


Professor Chris Smith

Professor Smith joined the School of Business and Management as Professor of Organisation Studies and Research Director in January 1998. Professor Smith has had a long-standing interest in the transfer of work organisation and human resource management knowledge and practices through the transnational firm. This has focused primarily on Japanese ‘transplants’ in the UK. He has a recent interest in Chinese labour and the organisation of the labour process and human resource management in Foreign-invested Chinese factories. Funding support for his research on Japanese companies in the UK came from The Leverhulme Trust, and The Reed Charity. Funding for his work in China came from the Hong Kong Research Grant Council. 
» Staff profile

Professor Jos Gamble

Jos joined the School of Business and Management at Royal Holloway in September 1998. Since 1999, Jos has conducted research on human resource management in foreign-invested and domestic retail stores in China. To develop further his research interests in Japan, in 2001 and 2004, Jos spent sabbatical leave terms at the School of Commerce, Waseda University in Tokyo. In 2003, he was awarded an ESRC/AHRC grant under the Cultures of Consumption programme to investigate Multinational Retailers in the Asia Pacific. » Staff profile

Dr Li Dong

Dr Li Dong lectures in international business at Royal Holloway. His research interests include: the formation and management of global strategic alliances and joint ventures in China; foreign direct investment and multinational corporations in emerging/transitional economies; and the internationalisation strategy of Chinese firms. » Staff profile

Dr Fiona Moore

Dr Fiona Moore lecturers in international human resource management at Royal Holloway. Her research interests include:transnational social and business organisation; international human resource management; cross-cultural management; language, communication and translation; gender and ethnic diversity in MNCs; anthropology and its applications in business studies; German, Korean and Chinese business cultures. She has worked with BMW and DG-Bank, spending time in Frankfurt while researching the latter, while her current research has included interviewing employees of Korean firms based locally. » Staff profile

Dr Chin-Ju Tsai

Dr Chin-Ju Tsai lecturers in human resource management at Royal Holloway. Her current research is concerned with the linkages between human resource management, employee attitudes and organizational performance; with HRM practices in high-tech industry in the UK and Taiwan; with HRM practices in SMEs and factors influencing the adoption of HRM practices in SMEs. » Staff profile

Professor Catherine Wang

Professor Wang is a Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Royal Holloway. Her research interests include: corporate and strategic entrepreneurship – organisational factors that influence firms’ opportunity exploration and exploitation; knowledge and innovation – the resource-based view of the firm and the dynamic capabilities perspective; international comparative management – Chinese firms’ entrepreneurial orientation; outsourcing and new organisational forms and practices, particularly in the public private partnerships. » Staff profile

Dr Yu Zheng

Dr Yu Zheng (Sunnie) until recently was studying organisational behaviour, supervised by Professor Chris Smith. Her PhD research ‘Enacting Corporate HR Strategy: A multiple-case study of Japanese subsidiaries in China' offered a critique to existing strategic international human resource management literature in explaining HR practices transfer between countries. She was part of a team working on an ESRC-funded project: 'Entrepreneurial Capacity to Exploit Opportunities, New Product Development and Firm Performance: A Comparative Study of UK and Chinese High-Tech Firms '.|  Staff profile

Ding Yuan

Ding Yuan graduated with an MA in Asia Pacific Business from the School of Business and Management, Royal Holloway. He is now a PhD student in the department. His research interests focus on international and comparative business; the transfer of work practices; HRM in China with a special focus on the service sectors; and the cross-cultural study of emotional labour.

Hanmin Huang

Hanmin graduated with an MA in Asia Pacific Business from Royal Holloway, University of London. He is now a PhD student at Royal Holloway. Prior to study at Royal Holloway he worked previously in China as a managing consultant with PricewaterhouseCooper, as a human resources manager and director for several multinational corporations and as a university lecturer and researcher at Guangxi University for Nationalities. » Student profile

Joyce Wai Wai Ko

Wai-Wai’s research interests include fieldwork and case study research in areas related to organizational behaviour, human resource management and knowledge management in China, in particular to topics related to knowledge creation, acquisition, sharing, transfer and knowledge retention. Her PhD research focuses on identifying employee retention strategies adopted by Chinese privately owned enterprises in the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) sector and the underlying rationales behind these strategies through an empirical based research method. Focus will be placed on enterprises related to knowledge intensive industry that majority employees are professional and skilled workers. » Student profile

Dr Qihai Huang

Dr Huang is a Senior Lecturer in Human Resources at Manchester Metropolitan University, and forthcoming articles (co-authored with Dr Jos Gamble) include ‘The transfer of organizational practices: a diachronic perspective from China’ and ‘Organizational commitment of Chinese employees in foreign invested firms’.

Dr Anita Trivedi

Dr Trivedi is a Senior Lecturer in International HRM at De Montfort University. Her research interests are: globalisation, labour, multinational firms, trade unions, employment relations, and India.

Dr Ngai Pun

Social Science Division, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Dr Alicia Leung

Department of Management, School of Business, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong

Dr Shuchi Sinha

Assistant Professor, Department of Management Studies, I

Shuchi Sinha was a PhD student at the School of Management, Royal Holloway. Her research focus is on the call centre industry in India.

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