Conceptions of modern management and of skill in China have developed out of quantitative, production oriented traditions that have tended to downplay the human side of management, training and development. Based on recent survey and case study research this paper argues that some organisations are moving away from such narrow definitions. These tend to be resource rich, larger enterprises, often in modern growth sectors and organisations exposed to foreign practice (either by virtue of foreign ownership or investment, or as a result of exposure to the pressures of global competition through operation in international markets). Skills shortages are faced by organisations throughout China. However, employers do not generally feel that the education system is serving to address these skills needs. The varying conceptions of modern management shape the manner in which organisations recruit from, and build, on formal education provision. Many resource rich employers are using formal education as a selection mechanism, selecting the educational elite and continuing to develop them. Those organisations that have limited access to highly qualified recruits are also least likely to be in a position to provide extensive or high quality training. Consequently the divide between resource rich and resource poor organisations, in terms of both organisational resources and employees’ opportunities for skill acquisition, learning and development, seems likely to widen
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