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Experimentation and Decentralization in China’s Labor Relations
Articles and Chapters
  • Eli D Friedman, Cornell University
  • Sarosh Kuruvilla, Cornell University
Publication Date
In this introduction to the special issue ‘Changing work, labour and employment relations in China’, we argue that China is taking an experimental and decentralized approach to the development of new labor relations frameworks. Particular political constraints in China prevent interest aggregation among workers, as the central state sees this as posing a risk to social stability. Firms and local governments have been given a degree of space to experiment with different arrangements, as long as the categorical ban on independent unions is not violated. The consequence has been an increasingly differentiated labor relations landscape, with significant variation by region and sector. We note some countervailing tendencies towards re-centralization, but emphasize that this phenomenon remains largely confined to the municipal level. The five articles in this special issue address different aspects of both experimentation and decentralization in labor relations.

Required Publisher Statement
© SAGE. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. Final version published as: Friedman, E., & Kuruvilla, S. (2015). Experimentation and decentralization in China’s labor relations. Human Relations, 68(2), 181-195.
DOI: 10.1177/0018726714552087

Suggested Citation
Friedman, E., & Kuruvilla, S. (2015). Experimentation and decentralization in China’s labor relations[Electronic version]. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, ILR School site:

Citation Information
Eli D Friedman and Sarosh Kuruvilla. "Experimentation and Decentralization in China’s Labor Relations" (2015)
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