Recoupling Corporate Culture with New Political Discourse in China’s Platform Economy: The Case of Alibaba

Tommy Tse, Xiaotian Li

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research on the corporate culture construction in China primarily highlights how Chinese firms draw on its traditional culture and socialist heritages as two crucial intellectual resources. The highly marketised high-tech sector with declining employment security and changing political environment renders a new context and dual process for the ‘engineering’ of corporate culture in China’s platform economy. An ethnographic study of Alibaba unveils the resources the management draws on to construct its culture, including not only the founder’s entrepreneurial stories but also the economic and social changes allegedly brought by Alibaba’s platforms and technologies. This article theorises a new tripartite state–employer–employee relationship manifested through corporate culture by showcasing how the discourses of market meritocracy in China’s reform era and national renaissance based on technological progressivism have both fuelled the corporate culture construction, delineating its simultaneous yet paradoxical decoupling from and recoupling with the national political discourse in China’s high-tech industries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1544-1564
Number of pages21
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Alibaba
  • China
  • corporate culture
  • digital economy
  • E-commerce
  • employment relationships
  • high-tech industries
  • national renaissance
  • platform economy
  • platform work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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