Global HRM integration: a knowledge transfer perspective

Adam Smale (University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 8 February 2008



The purpose of this paper is to review the literature on HRM in MNCs from a knowledge transfer perspective, to identify some of the key weaknesses in extant research and to outline a future research agenda.


In this paper key contributions to the literature on HRM in MNCs are reviewed and discussed in connection with the knowledge transfer literature. The review and discussion culminate in the presentation of an agenda for future research.


The paper finds that, by viewing global HRM integration in MNCs as a process of knowledge transfer, three weaknesses in the extant literature are identified: inadequate consideration of HRM's knowledge characteristics at different levels within the organisation – the “what”; insufficient attention paid to the organisational mechanisms through which HRM is transferred – the “how”; and a lack of rigour in assessing when HRM transfer can be viewed as successful – the “when”.


In viewing global HRM integration as a process of knowledge transfer, the paper extends the HRM‐knowledge link and provides an alternative point of departure from which to study HRM in MNCs. In highlighting some of the weaknesses in extant research and in proposing a research agenda, it is also hoped that this paper can assist other scholars in making incremental improvements to a field reportedly in need of further theoretical development.



Smale, A. (2008), "Global HRM integration: a knowledge transfer perspective", Personnel Review, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 145-164.

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