Do multinational companies (MNCs) transfer employment practices across their operations in different countries? In other words, are they innovators in national systems of employment relations or do they adapt to them? This question lies at the heart of much research in the field of international HRM, yet the debate is characterized by two quite different approaches to this question – the “global – local” perspective and the “segmentation” thesis – that have not engaged satisfactorily with one another. Drawing on data from a case study of an American multinational in China, we argue that analysis must be sensitive to the sector-specific conditions that create variation between MNCs in this respect. Specifically, the way that multinationals build international processes of production and service provision is a crucial factor in shaping whether they look to transfer practices and, therefore, whether they are innovators or adapters.
Edwards, T. and Zhang, M. (2008), "Multinationals and national systems of employment relations: Innovators or adapters?", Lawler, J.J. and Hundley, G. (Ed.) The Global Diffusion of Human Resource Practices: Institutional and Cultural Limits (Advances in International Management, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 33-58. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1571-5027(08)00002-8
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