Capturing the psychological well-being of Chinese factory workers


Purpose: Businesses are under pressure to ensure social responsibility in their globalised supply chains. However, conventional factory audits are not providing adequate data about production workers’ well-being. Industry attempts to measure working conditions have shown bias and inconsistency and there is no consensus on what to measure, or how. Well-being can be intangible and difficult to capture without appropriate theoretical and methodological frameworks. This paper investigates factors influencing the well-being of a Chinese factory’s workers, tests an innovative research method, and proposes interventions to improve well-being in factories. Design/methodology/approach: This is a longitudinal study using the diaries of production workers at a large assembly manufacturing site in China. Workers left daily digital voice diaries about their day, which were analysed to identify factors related to their well-being at work. Findings: The picture is more complex than the concerned Western narrative suggests. Workers' personal and professional concerns extend beyond the criteria currently measured in audits, tending to be more relational, and less about their physical state. Practical implications: The current approach of auditing management practices neglects workers' well-being. This study offers a more comprehensive view of well-being and tests a new method of investigation. Originality/value: This is the first study to use diary methods in a Chinese factory. It addresses an issue supported by little empirical evidence. It is the first longitudinal study to hear from the factory workers themselves about how they are and what impacts their well-being daily.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
Additional Information: © 2020 Emerald Publishing. This AAM is deposited under the CC BY-NC 4.0 licence. Any reuse is allowed in accordance with the terms outlined by the licence. To reuse the AAM for commercial purposes, permission should be sought by contacting
Uncontrolled Keywords: CSR,CSR audit,Diary research,Psychological capital,Risk management,Social sustainability,Supply chain,Decision Sciences(all),Strategy and Management,Management of Technology and Innovation
Publication ISSN: 1758-6593
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2024 08:27
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2020 10:07
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://www.eme ... -0492/full/html (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2020-10-30
Published Online Date: 2020-10-30
Accepted Date: 2020-06-13
Authors: Bellingan, Minette
Tilley, Catherine
Batista, Luciano (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-0367-2975)
Kumar, Mukesh
Evans, Steve



Version: Accepted Version

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