Biography

I studied Sociology at Renmin University of China before I worked in China's post and telecom industry for a number of years. I then studied at Keele University for both my MA and PhD degrees in HRM and Industrial Relations before I was employed as a lecturer at Middlesex University in London. In 2010 I returned to Keele Business School as a lecturer in HRM.

I am an Academic Associate Member of CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development), Fellow of Higher Education Academy, and Visiting Professor at Capital University of Economics and Business, China.

Research and scholarship

My main research interests include performance management in health services, decent work, work-life balance, migrant workers, employee misbehaviour, entrepreneurship, leadership, international strategic HRM, the emerging trade unionism and labour movement in China. My research also investigates the role of Chinese trade union organisations on collective wage consultation and strikes, alternative labour dispute resolution mechanisms, and the impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative on the challenges of developing countries’ labour market, income and employment.

Currently I am the PI of the project “Midlands Good Work Charter: advancing employment policy and regional innovation in post-Covid Midlands”. The research is funded by Research England Policy Support Fund with a budget of £11,480, with the collaborators including Professor Tony Dobbins (University of Birmingham) and Professor Will Foster (Keele Business School).

In this research, we team up with key government partner ACAS (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) on supporting the implementation and promotion of the first-ever Good Work Charter across the Midlands region. Its central aim is to facilitate the launch of the Charter and contribute towards a better understanding of good work initiative through knowledge exchange events and activities that advocate inclusive recovery and growth that will benefit the sustainable development of the region in the context of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda.

Supporting the Midlands Innovation, Keele Deal Recovery and Keele Deal Inclusion initiatives, the project will bring together government organisations, employers, trade unions, and universities within the region and beyond to facilitate the debates, dialogues and knowledge exchange on good work and employment. It will support a Charter launch event in May, the creation of a dedicated Charter website, and other related events and activities that will facilitate knowledge exchange on good work between policy making and implementation communities, businesses, civil society organisations and higher education institutions, improving the impact of Keele University’s public policy engagement. The outcome will include a report to government on good work policy measurement and recommendations, and academic output and disseminations.

In 2020-2021 I was the PI of a Research England project ‘Decent work in time of Covid: Policy implications and challenges for the Midlands’, exploring how the Covid-19 crisis has exposed gaps in the provision of fair working opportunities in the Midlands as the region looks to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. The research was collaborated between KBS and University of Birmingham, aimed at providing recommendations to government departments, organisations and community groups to increase the provision of ‘decent work’ - access to work that is productive, delivers a fair income, ensures security in the workplace, and provides social protection for families – for individuals across the region.

The ‘Decent work’ project brought together the perspectives of key stakeholders including the government, business societies, employee associations and other public organisations on the current decent work policies and will determine how these can be changed or refined to help with economic recovery and achieve sustained and inclusive economic growth across the region. The research supported the Keele Deal | Recovery for creating a powerful and wide-ranging programme of contributions aimed at achieving a major impact on the region’s recovery and building long-term resilience.

My previous projects include a Leverhulme project ‘Collective pay determination and the changing labour relations in globalised China’ (PI, 2015-17, £105,800), which looked at the recent development of wage consultation, trade unions and labour relations in foreign invested firms in a number of regions in China. This large scale, international, interdisciplinary research was collaborated by a team of academics based in four universities: Keele University (UK), SOAS University of London (UK), Capital University of Economics and Business (China), and Shandong University of Finance and Economics (China).

In 2018-2019, I was the PI of a GCRF (Research England Global Challenges Research Fund) project “Foreign investment, labour market and employment relations: the challenges of Kenya’s sustainable development”, with a budget of £25,750. Co-investigators include colleagues based in Keele, Kenyatta University, Kenya, and Sun Yat-Sen University, China.

I am a member of the editorial boards of:

  • The International Journal of Human Resource Management
  • Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources. 

I welcome potential research students whose projects are in the areas of people management and industrial relations focusing on employee resistance, workplace conflict and management practices. I am also interested in the development of the digital economy, the labour market, decent work and regulatory policy implications. Some of the projects that I have been engaging include:

  • People management strategies
  • Decent work, policy development and regional economy
  • Impact of foreign investment on Kenya's labour market and decent work
  • Employment relations and trade unionism in China

My current PhD students are:

Past PhD students:

  • Mengyi Xu, PhD (2015 - 2019): Work-life balance in China: perspectives of urban female white collar employees.

Teaching

  • Year 2 Employee Resourcing, Social Enterprise and Alternative Organising
  • Year 3 Pay and Performance
  • MA Employment Relations and Reward
  • MBA Human Resource Management

Further information

Research groups:

Selected Publications

  • Cao X. 2022. BOOK REVIEW The Impact of Organizational Ethical Climate on Organizational Commitment and Job Performance: An Economic Ethics Analysis of Japanese-funded Manufacturing Enterprises in China. link> link>
  • Cao X. 2021. The impact of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic on the labour market and labour relations in the UK. In Report of China Labor Relations (2020-2021). Social Sciences Academic Press. link>
  • Cao X. 2020. Decent work in China. In Decent Work and Economic Growth. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Springer, Cham. doi> link>
  • Cao X. Foreign Direct Investment and Decent Work in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Decent Work and Economic Growth. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Leal Filho W, Azul A, Brandli L, Lange Salvia A, Wall T (Eds.). Springer. doi> link> full text>
  • Meng S, Yan J, Cao X. 2019. Heterogeneity in top management teams and outward foreign direct investment: evidence from Chinese listed companies. Frontiers of Business Research in China, 16, vol. 13(1). link> doi> link> full text>

Full Publications Listshow

Journal Articles

  • Meng S, Yan J, Cao X. 2019. Heterogeneity in top management teams and outward foreign direct investment: evidence from Chinese listed companies. Frontiers of Business Research in China, 16, vol. 13(1). link> doi> link> full text>
  • Lin Z, Cao X, Cottam E. 2020. International networking and knowledge acquisition of Chinese SMEs: the role of global mind-set and international entrepreneurial orientation. ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT, 449-465, vol. 32(5-6). link> doi> full text>
  • Cao X and Meng Q. 2019. Why Do Trade Unions Revitalize? The Study on Union Revitalization, Theoretical Debates and Inspiration. Human Resource Development of China, 101-116, vol. 36(3). doi> link> full text>
  • Cao X. 2018. China on Strike: Narratives of Workers' Resistance. WORK EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIETY, 1143-1144, vol. 32(6). link> doi> full text>
  • Cao X and Meng Q. 2017. Dockworkers' Resistance and Union Reform within China's Globalised Seaport Industry. GLOBALIZATIONS, 272-284, vol. 14(2). link> doi> full text>
  • Cao X. 2015. Organizational Misbehavior and Management Control in China’s Public Hospitals: Doctors’ Red Packets. Frontiers of Business Research in China, 110-134, vol. 9(1). doi> full text>
  • Lyddon D, Cao X, Meng Q, Lu J. 2015. A strike of ‘unorganised’ workers in a Chinese car factory: the Nanhai Honda events of 2010. Industrial Relations Journal, 134-152, vol. 46(2). doi> full text>
  • Cao X. 2014. Submerged discontent and patterns of accommodation: a case study of doctors' pay in two public hospitals in China. Int J Health Plann Manage, 124-140, vol. 29(2). link> doi>
  • Cao X. 2013. Book review: Anita Chan (ed.), Walmart in China. Work, Employment and Society. doi>
  • Cao X. 2011. The Chinese Medical Doctor Association: A New Industrial Relations Actor in China's Health Services?. RELATIONS INDUSTRIELLES-INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, 74-97, vol. 66(1). link> doi>
  • Cao X. 2011. Chinese Medical Doctors Association: A New Industrial Relations Actor in China's Health Services?. Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations, 74-97, vol. 1(66). link>

Chapters

  • Cao X. 2021. The impact of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic on the labour market and labour relations in the UK. In Report of China Labor Relations (2020-2021). Social Sciences Academic Press. link>
  • Cao X. 2020. Decent work in China. In Decent Work and Economic Growth. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Springer, Cham. doi> link>
  • Cao X. Foreign Direct Investment and Decent Work in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Decent Work and Economic Growth. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Leal Filho W, Azul A, Brandli L, Lange Salvia A, Wall T (Eds.). Springer. doi> link> full text>
  • Cao X and Meng Q. 2017. Dockworkers’ resistance and union reform within China’s globalised seaport industry. In Chinese Labour in the Global Economy Capitalist Exploitation and Strategies of Resistance. Routledge. doi>
  • Cao X. SDG 8, decent work and post-Covid recovery: Policy implications, challenges and opportunities in the UK. In SDGs in the European Region. Walter F (Ed.). Springer.

Other

  • Cao X. 2022. BOOK REVIEW The Impact of Organizational Ethical Climate on Organizational Commitment and Job Performance: An Economic Ethics Analysis of Japanese-funded Manufacturing Enterprises in China. link> link>
  • Cao X. Book Review: The emerging industrial relations of China William Brown and Chang Kai (eds.) Cambridge University Press, 2018, paperback, ISBN: 9781107534964, 250 pp., £22.99. doi> full text>
  • Cao X. 2016. Book Review China at Work: A labour process perspective on the transformation of work and employment in China. doi> full text>
  • Cao X. 2013. Walmart in China. link> doi>
  • Cao X. BRICS summit in Johannesburg: here’s what the five countries are looking for. link>
  • Cao X. G20: led by Russia and China, world’s ‘emerging powers’ look to push unified agenda. link>
  • Cao X. G20: led by Russia and China, world’s ‘emerging powers’ look to push unified agenda. link>

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