A Conceptual Scheme for Sustainable Development of Construction Labor Market in China

Tingyu An*, Tsunemi Watanabe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Expansion of construction industry has been a leading contributor to the rapid development of Chinese economy these years; however, the foundations of construction labor market are being deteriorated fast. This could be seen from both the worsening of construction enterprises’ business environment and the
severe construction labor conditions in recent years. This research attempts to explore some promising approaches for current Chinese construction to get out of this dilemma from a sustainable development view. Current scheme that strictly prohibits ‘illegal’ labor contractors and pushes corporatization among them in order to regulate construction labor market in China has been proved to be a failure. It could be judged by the extremely difficult implementation on most construction sites by general contractors (GCs) and subcontractors (SCs), particularly the latter. One of the root causes is found to lie in the current existing subcontracting systems, which neglect the potential development of subcontractors and fail to provide them with incentives for good performance as expected. Hence, new strategies and practical scheme ought to take
the better ongoing development of subcontractors into consideration. A new conceptual scheme for GC and SCs involving construction subcontracting business is proposed in this paper, mainly including the enlargement of subcontracting business scope and the introduction of cooperation into the existing competition mechanism. Then tentative analyses are conducted to validate that the new scheme could provide economic incentives for involved parties (particularly subcontractors) in today’s business environment with many uncertainties (e.g. workflow unreliability) threatening their better ongoing development. It then concludes that the new scheme could help contributing a mutually beneficial subcontracting business environment for both GC’s and SCs’ development for current Chinese construction industry. Furthermore, it could lead to the fundamental culture change of the existing adversarial relationship
into trust and win-win relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberSMS12-7817
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternet Journal of Society for Social Management Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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