The Global Diffusion of Human Resource Practices: Institutional and Cultural Limits: Volume 21


Table of contents

(16 chapters)

Discussions about transferring human resource practices across national borders inevitably raise the question as to whether practices in different countries will converge on a common model or whether they will be characterized by continued divergence. The convergence hypothesis is a product of the landmark study by Kerr, Dunlop, Harbison, and Myers (1960), who sought to understand the forces shaping national industrial relations systems by analyzing the experiences of national economies at various stages of industrialization. They predicted a convergence of practices as industrial societies adopted plural market economies in which major actors shared beliefs about the nature of industrialism, the efficacy of the market economy, and the need for mechanisms to reconcile the interests of employers, the public, and workers.

Competitiveness is an often ill-defined concept that is key to economic success. This chapter focuses on the links between competitiveness and the employment relationship (ER). It ranks European countries by their specialization in high-technology, skilled labor sectors to yield a competitiveness ranking and examines workers’ values and attitudes to identify common ER features of the “competitive” countries. Results show that workers in competitive countries enjoy greater flexibility and autonomy. Some conclusions are raised regarding what companies can do from the HRM perspective to optimize employee capabilities, leading to more productive and competitive working environments.

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.

The debate concerning the convergence or divergence of human resource management (HRM) and industrial relations has grown in parallel with the importance of multinational companies (MNCs) in OECD countries. The “country-of-origin effect” and “host-country effect” are two obvious poles of this debate (Ferner & Quintanilla, 1998). The country-of-origin effect claims the ability of MNCs to shape industrial relations and HRM practices in their subsidiaries abroad, frequently in accordance with industrial relations practices and institutions in their country of origin. Conversely, the host-country effect stresses the resilience of industrial relations institutions at both the national (Whitley, 1999; Hall & Soskice, 2001; Katz & Darbishire, 2000) and the regional or local levels (Belanger, Berggren, Björkman, & Köhler, 1999; Ortiz, 2002). Yet, the possibility that each one of these effects could prevail under different circumstances has hardly been considered. Moreover, the roles of politics and structure within the organization (Edwards, Almond, Clark, Colling, & Ferner, 2005), as well as the role of local culture, have often been ignored.

Two key developments exert an important influence on the nature of human resource management (HRM) in South Africa (SA). The first is two seemingly conflicting imperatives, sometimes and arguably wrongly juxtaposed: that of developing a high-growth, globally competitive economy with fuller employment and the sociopolitical imperative of redressing past structural inequalities of access to skilled, professional, and managerial positions, as well as ownership opportunities. The first development is the related influences of globalization and multinational corporations (MNCs), information technology, and increased competition, which have become very prominent in postapartheid SA. South Africa has a dual labor market, with a well-developed formal sector employing some 8.5 million workers in standard or typical work and a growing informal labor market. In the case of the formal, knowledge-based economy, the World Wide Web, and increasing communication that the Internet has made possible, has influenced changes at the organizational level. A second development is that these changes and changing patterns of employment are having a dramatic impact on HR policies within organizations. In a knowledge-based economy, organizations rely on knowledge that is embedded deeply in the individual and in the collective subconscious. It is the property of an individual and cannot be taken away from that person (Harrison & Kessels, 2004). He or she would agree to put it in the service of the collective whole, which is known as organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). In technology-driven advanced firms in SA, there are several themes among the various models of citizenship behavior: helping behavior, sportsmanship, organizational loyalty, organizational compliance, initiative, civic virtue, and self-development (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine, & Bachrach, 2000). Many of these themes overlap with the common competencies demanded by advanced MNCs. Thus OCBs rest upon a recognition of mutuality of interest and of responsibility between the organization and the individuals. Increasing globalization and worldwide competition and the knowledge-based economy have their greatest impact on business strategies, process, and practice involving, among others, management of human resources. In this chapter we examine factors influencing the management of human resources in SA and their impact on human resource practices in organizations.

The goal of this study was to test the human capital (HC) theory within the Russian context and explore current HC organizational practices (including training and development, recruitment and selection, compensation, empowerment, diversity, and work/family balance) of Russian enterprises. The data were collected at 270 large, medium, and small enterprises in Moscow and four representative regional centers. The study results suggest that Russian firms tended to emphasize current HC needs, not long-term HC development strategies. The firm size had an effect on differences in training, selection, and compensation practices, with large firms being more long-term oriented. Correlation between elements of the HC management model provided some preliminary evidence that Russian firms tried to coordinate selection, compensation, and training procedures. In addition, firms that empowered their employees were also putting more emphasis on long-term-oriented training, selection, and compensation practices. Finally, there were signs that diversity was gradually becoming an important issue for Russian enterprises of all sizes. However, compared to diversity, companies’ emphasis on helping their employees to deal with the work/family balance issue was much stronger.

The traditional Confucian management system is considered distinctly different from Western-based management. This study draws data from indigenous Taiwanese firms listed on its public stock market and examines the associations among various human resource (HR) systems and organizational performance. First, factor analysis is used to explore a wide range of HR practices. Then, cluster analysis is used to classify indigenous Taiwanese firms with regard to their HR practices. Indigenous Taiwanese firms were found to use various HR systems, ranging from traditional Confucian HR to high-involvement HR practices. Companies that used high-involvement HR systems were found to perform better than those using a traditional Confucian HR system.

This chapter examines gender diversity with a focus on the proportion of females in companies in Taiwan. The investigation also examines the effect of the proportion of females on company performance. The research used two Taiwan government databases offering statistics of individual indigenous companies in the manufacturing industries in 1996 and 2001, with a sample size of 8,622 in 1996 and 8,731 in 2001. Results show that the proportion of females in managerial, professional, and administrative jobs is increasing and is positively associated with company performance. By contrast, the proportion of females in operational-level jobs is decreasing, and its association with company performance is inconsistent. This study extends previous gender diversity research in management groups and suggests that women can be invaluable resources for business organizations in Taiwan.

Data from samples of managers from eight countries, Thailand, Nigeria, Philippines, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina, Spain, and the United States, are used to explore cross-national differences in how individuals make judgments about an individual's pay. A policy-capturing instrument is used to elicit judgments about the ways that variations in individual employee job performance, business unit performance, seniority, schooling, and need affect judgments about pay fairness. Significant between-country differences are found in the sensitivities of pay fairness judgments. However, these differences are not well explained by differences in individualism/collectivism reflected either by a priori categorizations of national culture or direct measures of horizontal/vertical collectivism. Implications for the explanation of cross-national differences are explored.

The aim of this chapter is to study individualism and collectivism as two construct indicators of social patterns in Lebanon using Triandis's (1995) framework of individualism and collectivism. This study explores the Lebanese autostereotypes and views of their extreme individualism and collectivism compared to the common opinion held by cross-cultural research. The study sheds light on how social patterns of different Lebanese individuals are distributed across four “cultural syndromes,” namely vertical and horizontal collectivism and vertical and horizontal individualism. These four social patterns will be tested against various contextual factors such as age, gender, and education. The results may provide a better idea for managers and human resources practitioners of how to prepare training and evaluation programs for their employees. Findings from 161 respondents showed that the subjects tested tended to be individualistic in their choices, and this suggests that the classification in the literature of the Lebanese as collectivists was based on the fact that there was no evidence to the contrary. Also, results showed a positive correlation between sociodemographic measures (gender, age, education, income, occupation, and location) and individualism. The author argues that these findings might have been the result of the evolution of the Lebanese family in the past 25 years. Suggestions for the use of these results in management and human resources practices and theory are given.

With higher female labor force participation and the greater prevalence of dual-career families, family responsibilities ever more overlap work responsibilities. Companies have begun to respond to the changing nature of the workforce by offering family-friendly policies that are intended to help employees manage family responsibilities while remaining productive workers. Examples of family-friendly policies include child and dependent care, flexible leave polices, and time off for family emergencies (Daley, 1998; Folsom & Botsch, 1993; Greenfield, 1997; Ezra & Deckman, 1996). Some benefits frequently offered by employers are not considered family-friendly policies because they are not primarily directed toward the management of family responsibilities. Examples of those benefits are educational assistance for the employee, mortgage assistance, holidays, and employee wellness programs.

The information technology (IT) sector has gained prominence since 1990. However, studies on the human resource management (HRM) policies and practices of multinational corporations (MNCs) have been few and far between. In this paper we study the Indian IT sector using both qualitative and quantitative approaches. For the quantitative research design, we used structured measurement tools developed by the Global HRM Project. Data were collected from 36 IT MNCs of Indian and foreign origin (U.S. and European) located in Bangalore and Hyderabad in India. We tested four hypotheses that were verified using the Mann–Whitney test of mean rank. We assessed the flow of HRM practices and the differences in HR practices between Indian and foreign MNCs. For the qualitative design we used an unstructured approach to gather secondary data sources and used anecdotal data gathered over a decade through our interactions with the Indian IT industry. We used the narrative style to show past and current Indian business culture, level of technology, and implications for foreign direct investment in the Indian IT sector. We state two qualitative hypotheses for this part of the research study. We find the current business culture and level of technology of Indian IT MNCs moderately similar to those of foreign MNCs, and more so U.S. MNCs. We find no differences between Indian and foreign MNCs in HRM practices. We assume that the unexpected similarity in international human resource management (IHRM) practices is probably due to: (1) the nature of information technology, (2) closing levels of R&D between Indian and foreign MNCs, and (3) similar business cultures of Indian and foreign MNCs. IT-intensive global organizations are likely get a step closer to global IHRM standardization.

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Advances in International Management
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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