AbstractBoth authors have been quite intimately familiar with Hong Kong for more than a decade now, and have a strong, ongoing interest in the future of the Territory; particularly in the light of the resumption of rule by China in July 1997. As part of a wider interest in the future well being of Hong Kong, the authors decided to focus on some aspects of its HRM environment as a dynamic and representative example of business community trends. This was chosen in view of the authors' belief that 1997 will result in a significant influx of university qualified and other PRC nationals into Hong Kong. They surmise further that this may devalue the labour market; in terms of wages, conditions, corporate behaviour and a spread of qualification pre-requisites down the management chain.
Conclusions which can be drawn from findings in this regard are that large corp-orations in Hong Kong are aware of modem HRM practices and are now going through a process of natural evolution using such practices where appropriate. It was not possible, though, to gain much useful forecasting of expectations from this sector as the topic of 1997 was very sensitive. It was evident, however, that the influence of the small Chinese family business in Hong Kong was pervasive and represented the cultural norm. This sector is unlikely to follow many of the Western HRM processes in the foreseeable future except in respect of a need for cross-cultural training, as also highlighted by several respondents. It is clear, in this regard, that the cultures of Hong Kong and PRC Chinese may share many similar roots but there are also many important differences.
While the research undertaken on this occasion neither proved nor disproved the authors' hypothesis, it was valuable in identifying directions for further research and means by which data collection may be improved. In view of the sensitivity of the topic it is clear that further research should focus almost entirely on an objective data base, showing actual statistics over time, so that some reasonable statistical projections can be made. Respondents would undoubtably feel much more comfortable with such an approach also, and are therefore likely to be more cooperative in providing data.
As an interesting by-product, this research also indicated trends in attitude and workforce composition of university graduates, which clearly demonstrated the importance of such qualifications in Hong Kong, and which the authors propose to make available to the Education authorities there.
The aim of the research, therefore, was to look for objective and subjective evidence which may prove or invalidate the above premise. A questionnaire was presented to various Hong Kong industry representatives; seeking quantitative background data on their organisations and qualitative assessments of likely trends in the medium term future. Personal interviews of these respondents were conducted in Hong Kong during November 1996, concurrent with questionnaire completion. In order as well to place findings in an appropriate context, the authors also undertook literature and anecdotal research into Hong Kong's past history, present culture and business practices. The latter particularly focussed on written works concerning HRM in Hong Kong and was then viewed in con-junction with a general overview of modern, international HRM practices.
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