Do politically connected, economically powerful firms comply with labor laws in China?

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Purpose: This study investigates, from a resource dependence perspective, the effects of domestic private firms' political connections and economic power on their labor law compliance in China. Design/methodology/approach: This study used data from a large-scale nationwide survey on Chinese domestic private firms, the Chinese Private Enterprise Survey collected from 2004 to 2012, to examine factors of interest that affect firms' compliance to labor laws. Hypotheses were tested using OLS regression models with robust standard errors. Findings: The results indicate that domestic private firms' institutional political connections specified by the presence of a union or a Chinese Communist Party committee is positively related to firms' labor law compliance, and firm owners' formal political connections indicated by their membership in the People's Congress or the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference have a somewhat negative effect. The post-hoc analysis shows that firm owners' political representation at the county and city levels is negatively related with labor law compliance, while the political representation at the national level is positively related to labor law compliance. Moreover, the economic power of a domestic private firm is related positively to its labor law compliance. Finally, although the authors did not find evidence that the 2008 Labor Contract Law increased labor contract coverage, it did increase pension coverage after 2008. Research limitations/implications: The present study reveals a more refined relationship between domestic private firm owners’ political connections and the degree of labor law compliance. It also demonstrates that the economic power of domestic private firms has a positive effect on their labor law compliance. This implies the importance of the contribution of domestic private firms to economic and social development in China, warranting continued support of the development of the private sector in China. Originality/value: This study adds to the sparse literature on the determinants of domestic private firms' labor law compliance in China. It also sheds light on whether political connections and the rising economic power of Chinese domestic private firms influence their compliance with labor laws.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Employee Relations