Expatriates and the institutionalisation of HRM practices

Thomas Steger (Faculty of Law, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Erfurt, Erfurt, Germany)
Rainhart Lang (Chemnitz University of Technology, Chemnitz, Germany)
Friederike Groeger (Diaverum GmbH, Munich, Germany)

Baltic Journal of Management

ISSN: 1746-5265

Publication date: 11 January 2011



The purpose of this paper is to provide an in‐depth description of the process of institutionalisation and development of human resource management (HRM) practices in subsidiaries of German multinational companies in Russia.


The study is based on nine case studies of Russian subsidiaries including 26 interviews (13 German expatriates and 13 local employees), participative observations and document analyses. The data analysis follows a qualitative methodology.


The study provides four patterns of institutionalisation processes of HRM practices. They stress the importance of personal, institutional and contextual factors for the institutionalisation of HRM practices. Moreover, the key role of expatriates with their specific value orientations and behaviour in this process is highlighted.

Research limitations/implications

One suggestion for further research would be to replicate the study quantitatively (in order to get more cases) as well as qualitatively (to get broader inter‐cultural data). Furthermore, it would be valuable to take a more long‐term focus to examine the described institutionalisation paths in the long run.

Practical implications

The paper highlights the importance of personal characteristics of expatriates that are often underestimated in companies' selection procedures. Moreover, the connection between the parent company's strategy and the pattern of institutionalisation of HRM practices should make the company management reflect upon the preferred pattern before taking the basic decisions. Taking into account the strong economic relationship between Russia and Germany and the expected further development of joint activities, the paper provides also important insights for the use of German expatriates in Russia.


This paper improves our comprehension of the complex process of implementation and institutionalisation of HRM practices abroad. Moreover, it contributes to the HRM literature as it employs the concept of “transnational spaces” as an alternative and additional approach to explain this process. The resulting patterns may not be restricted to the Russian case only but should be adaptable to other emerging countries as well.



Steger, T., Lang, R. and Groeger, F. (2011), "Expatriates and the institutionalisation of HRM practices", Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 7-24. https://doi.org/10.1108/17465261111100923

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