Job satisfaction in urban China
October 9, 2007 10:25 AM   Subscribe

What is generally known about job satisfaction in urban China?

Are people generally more satisfied or not, compared to first world countries?

I read a number of research papers already but, unsurprisingly, its usually specific, such as, job satisfaction of teachers in rural China, etc. I'm interested in something of broader scope, like this askmefi question :)

Articles, research papers and personal opinions are appreciated.
posted by gttommy to Society & Culture (11 answers total)
My friend was running a business in a city near Shanghai for a year or so, and is leaving to go back to Singapore because he hates it so much. YMWV.
posted by chunking express at 10:35 AM on October 9, 2007

Do you mean white-collar types in Shanghai or factory laborers in Guangzhou? Programmer with a high-tech startup in Beijing or noodle-shop owner in Lanzhou? Oil tycoon in Urumqi or the person who scrapes gum off the sidewalks in Xi'an?

What do you mean by "generally"? Are we measuring the job satisfaction of each individual and then taking the mean satisfaction of the city population? I would think the reason you don't see things of broader scope is that it's so hard to measure, given the wide variety of jobs people in urban areas can have.

If you assume that menial labor implies low job satisfaction, then I would imagine people in urban China could be said to "generally" have lower job satisfaction, since there's a higher percentage of menial labors in urban China than in first world countries. But of course, this assumption might be wrong, and again, what does "generally" mean?
posted by pravit at 11:33 AM on October 9, 2007

Best answer: There's a survey company in Beijing called Horizon Survey Research that looks at this kind of thing, but I can't seem to find any online presence. I have met a similar group in Guangzhou but the name and link escapes me - will post it later if it comes to mind. Another place to look would be the ILO's Decent Work campaign.
Anecdotally, I'm not sure what best to say and am loath to generalise. Most of the larger China offices I've worked in and around have been in the media or non-profit worlds. The duller state newspapers certainly had their fair share of bright young people over-worked, underpaid and wasting away in a bureaucratic and stultifying atmosphere. Conversely, many of the NGOs were giving real satisfaction to motivated people.
Outside the white collar world it's hard to imagine that many people are having much of a good time in the service and construction sectors and I've heard enough complaints from people I've talked to, but then, so many are glad to have kind of job at all.
posted by Abiezer at 11:54 AM on October 9, 2007

Response by poster: chunking express: if you could give more details as to why your friend was dissatisfied with the country that would be great.

pravit: 'Generally' as in 'broadly or abstractly speaking'. Not specific, like the papers or articles I have found which provide rough sketches here and there. I'd like to gain an 'overall' understanding of the state of China's work-happiness, the big-picture if you will. References or studies would be nice.

Abiezer: thanks again for your input!
posted by gttommy at 12:44 PM on October 9, 2007

job satisfaction is an alien concept to most of China.

many people continue to work in rural China in slave-like conditions.
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 3:05 PM on October 9, 2007

This question is like asking "what's job satisfaction like in the US, generally" or "in Europe, generally?". China is a country with an area approximately equal to that of Europe, and sports a complex, multi-faceted population. pravit had the best answer so far. Narrow down your area of research and you will get more meaningful and satisfying results.

Also, the PRC government casts a very critical eye on wide-scale surveys so this kind of data is not as readily available as it is in more open countries.
posted by msittig at 5:38 PM on October 9, 2007

I got the sense from talking to my friend that the law in China is not conducive to running a business. He seemed to spend all his time trying to get permits to this or that. I got the sense the whole process was very convoluted, and set up such that you were supposed to be paying off people to move things along. He was in China for a few years -- he met his wife and has a baby now, so it clearly wasn't all bad -- but in terms of moving his business a long he got no where.
posted by chunking express at 6:46 AM on October 10, 2007

Best answer: I still couldn't find the web page of the research organisation in Guangzhou I had in mind. Whilst I accept pretty much everything pravit and msittig have said, it is the case that such general survey work has been conducted, and the results are there to be read. You just have bear the caveats in mind.
Not sure how good your Chinese reading is yet gttommy, but a key-word in Chinese to search on is 工作满意度. I did something similar and found, e.g., this which gives figures from a 2006 survey comparing job satisfaction in Korea (ROK) and China. Headline figures are in the first para: 29.9 percent of Koreans surveyed and 24.8 percent of Chinese were satisfied. There's a breakdown in para two of differnt aspect - future prospects, job security etc.
posted by Abiezer at 7:13 AM on October 10, 2007

Response by poster: Abiezer: This seems like the Horizon Survey Research group you mentioned before:
posted by gttommy at 4:38 AM on October 13, 2007

Yes, that's them gttommy. I remember their Chinese name now I see it. It was their chairman, Victor Yuan, who I interviewed once.
posted by Abiezer at 4:53 AM on October 13, 2007

And having a quick look around at their research categories, it seems a term they use is 员工满意度 ("staff satisfaction") rather than 工作满意度 ("job satisfaction").
posted by Abiezer at 5:03 AM on October 13, 2007

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