Multinational Retailers in China: Proliferating 'Mcjobs' or Developing Skills?

28 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2006

See all articles by Jos Gamble

Jos Gamble

Royal Holloway - School of Management


Much has been written on the nature of skills and the extent to which there is increased skills development or a deskilling of workers in modern workplaces. This paper broadens the debate and explores these issues in the novel context of UK- and Japanese-invested retailers' operations in China. Data derived from over two hundred interviews at twelve retail stores in six Chinese cities and questionnaires completed by almost eight hundred employees elicited contextualized accounts of interactive service workers' own perceptions of their training and skills development. It was found that these firms made a substantial contribution to skills development, fostered and enhanced both directly by company training and also through experiential workplace-based learning. It might be, however, that this constitutes an essential but "one-off" increase in skills in transitional economies such as that of China.

Suggested Citation

Gamble, Jos, Multinational Retailers in China: Proliferating 'Mcjobs' or Developing Skills?. Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 43, No. 7, pp. 1463-1490, November 2006, Available at SSRN: or

Jos Gamble (Contact Author)

Royal Holloway - School of Management ( email )

Surrey, Egham TW20 8DG
United Kingdom
+44 1784 414094 (Phone)
+44 1784 439854 (Fax)

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