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Keywords:

  • China in Africa;
  • Chinese MNEs;
  • employment relations;
  • cross-cultural management;
  • international HRM

China's international engagement is changing geopolitical dynamics to an extent that Western governments appear concerned. Negative reports of this engagement in Africa abound, not least in the area of employment relations and human resource management. Yet currently there is a lack of serious management research and theory development in this area, leaving international HR managers to rely on anecdotal information. The way Chinese management engages with African workforces may be quite different from Western managers’. The current work suggests that understanding this engagement should be informed by China's recent anti-imperialist involvement in Africa, its commercial motivation coupled with its political-seeking motive, the values such as paternalism that modify Western influences on Chinese HRM that are brought to Africa, and possible synergies with African values. Yet the current work identifies from the current published evidence a disparity between China's professed strategic level of engagement and what happens at the organizational level, indicating that many Chinese organizations may be contributing to employment, but not to upskilling of workers, mutual learning, or engagement with local communities. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.