Global HRM and the dilemma of competing stakeholder interests

Satu Lähteenmäki (Professor in the Department of Management, Turku School of Economics at the University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Maarit Laiho (Post‐doctoral Researcher in the Department of Management, Turku School of Economics at the University of Turku, Turku, Finland)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Publication date: 7 June 2011



The purpose of this paper is to study the meaning of socially responsible human resource management (HRM) in the global business context.


This paper is based on a multiple case study and is descriptive. The study focuses on four case studies of two Finnish multinational companies. The data sources are company documents and web sites, newspapers, financial periodicals and web‐based open communication channels.


The study shows the contextual nature of socially responsible HRM and highlights the need to recognise the magnitude of the issues and viewpoints that affect the evaluation of social responsibility from the HRM point of view. The study also reveals the gap between the rhetoric used by top management and the messages given out by the HR function.

Research limitations/implications

The four cases examined in this study do not allow for empirical generalisations.

Practical implications

The study stresses that the costs and consequences of unethical behaviour cannot be overlooked when aiming to maintain the image of a socially responsible company.


This study addresses a research gap in HRM studies by adopting an ethical perspective and suggesting that instead of balancing global integration with responsiveness to local customs companies should find a balance between profitability and responsibility. The study provides rich material for discussion and illustration.



Lähteenmäki, S. and Laiho, M. (2011), "Global HRM and the dilemma of competing stakeholder interests", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 166-180.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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