1993 volume 25(1) pages 63 – 79

Cite as:
Lui T-L, Chiu S, 1993, "Industrial restructuring and labour-market adjustment under positive noninterventionism: the case of Hong Kong" Environment and Planning A 25(1) 63 – 79

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Industrial restructuring and labour-market adjustment under positive noninterventionism: the case of Hong Kong

T-L Lui, S Chiu

Received 19 September 1991; in revised form 10 January 1992

Abstract. This paper is an attempt to probe the interactions of economic restructuring and labour-market development in the process of industrial development in contemporary Hong Kong. The discussion is mainly divided into two parts. First is an examination of the development of the Hong Kong economy in the context of the changing world economy and, in particular, the effects of the structuring of the global division of labour on changes in the economic structure of Hong Kong in the 1980s. The growth of the tertiary sector and the concomitant process of deindustrialisation stand out as the two most important features of the Hong Kong economy in the 1980s and the years to come. Second the kinds of labour-market strategy developed in response to changes in the economic structure are examined. The recent debate on the importation of labour and the growing concern of industrial relocation reflect the developing pattern of labour-market adjustment. It is contended that in order to grasp the dynamics of the structuring of labour-market strategies, the interactions among the international economic environment, state policy, the formation of industrial capital, and the bargaining power of labour must be probed. The case of Hong Kong is one characterised by the dominance of small local manufacturing establishments, a noninterventionist state, underdeveloped shop-floor or labour organisations, and an industrial economy heavily dependent on exports. All these factors contribute to the constitution of the 'Hong Kong way' of continuing labour-intensive production and making adjustments in labour-market strategies to cope with the process of economic restructuring.

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