An exploratory study of job insecurity in relation to household registration, employment contract, and job satisfaction in Chinese state-owned enterprises

Date07 August 2017
Pages151-165
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/EBHRM-09-2015-0039
Publication Date07 August 2017
AuthorBing Shi
SubjectHR & organizational behaviour,Global HRM
An exploratory study of job
insecurity in relation to household
registration, employment
contract, and job satisfaction in
Chinese state-owned enterprises
Bing Shi
School of Business, London South Bank University, London, UK
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the influence of the household registration and of
employment contract on employee job insecurity in the Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
The relationships between job satisfaction and the two components of job insecurity are also analysed.
Design/methodology/approach The research uses original data collected through a questionnaire
survey in six Chinese SOEs. In all, 309 samples are analysed mainly using hierarchical regression analysis.
Findings The research finds household registration is a predictor of job insecurity while employment
contract is not. Job satisfaction is found to be positively related to one of the components of job insecurity:
the perceived severity of job loss.
Social implications To improve job security of the employees who are in vulnerable positions, improving
the equality of social safety net is significant. In China, household registration causes unequal access to social
welfare and employment opportunities; improving the equality may be more significant than seeking for
permanent employment.
Originality/value The research suggests two levels of factors influencing job insecurity: the macro-level
factors thatinclude the institutional configurations of social safetynet; and the micro-level factorsthat include
employmentcontract. The macro-levelfactors have fundamentalinfluence whilethe micro-level factorsare more
apparent. The micro-level factors may manifest their influence only when the macro-level factors equally
cover all the employees. The macro-levelfactors may also intermediate therelationship between job insecurity
and satisfactio n.
Keywords China, Institutions, Job satisfaction, State-owned enterprise, Equality, Social welfare,
Job insecurity, Employment contract, Household registration, Social safety net
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Job insecurity is defined as an employees perception of threat and powerlessness in relation
to the employees present job (Greenhalgh and Rosenblatt, 1984). It can be summarized to
have two components: the perceived likelihood of job loss and the perceived severity of the
loss (Ashford et al., 1989; Jacobson, 1991; Klandermans et al., 2010). Job insecurity leads to
negative attitudinal reactions such as reduced organizational commitment and trust
(Ashford et al., 1989; Coyle-Shapiro and Kessler, 2000; De Witte et al., 2010). It can also cause
poor job performance and increased job withdrawal (Sverke et al., 2002; Cheng and Chan,
2008), though maybe arguably to different extent between temporary and permanent
employees (De Cuyper and De Witte, 2007; Klandermans et al., 2010; Klein Hesselink and
Van Vuuren, 1999). It may affect employee health and have spillover effects on marital
relationships (Greenhalgh and Rosenblatt, 2010). Hence, job insecurity can be harmful and
costly at both organizational and individual levels (Sverke et al., 2002). Therefore, it is
significant to study job insecurity. Evidence-based HRM: a Global
Forum for Empirical Scholarship
Vol. 5 No. 2, 2017
pp. 151-165
© Emerald PublishingLimited
2049-3983
DOI 10.1108/EBHRM-09-2015-0039
Received 18 September 2015
Revised 4 October 2015
13 March 2016
19 May 2016
Accepted 8 July 2016
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/2049-3983.htm
The author wants to thank Professor Chris Brewster for his guidance on this research, especially in the
early stages, and for his help with academic writing.
151
Chinese
state-owned
enterprises

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