International Human Resource Management: A Literature Review Essay

Due to globalisation, the economic system around the universe has been mostly incorporate. Many corporations are spread outing their markets into parts or other states they have ne’er touched earlier. These corporations are sing an evolutionary phase: internationalisation. It is clear that effectual human resource direction of an organisation is the major competitory advantage and may even be the most of import determiner of organisational public presentation. Therefore, in order to last in the important planetary economic market, a transnational corporation ( MNC ) chiefly relies on the capableness of its international human resource direction ( IHRM ) during the internationalisation procedure. In other words, it is the IHRM ‘s duty to enable the MNCs to be successful globally.

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Over the past several decennaries, practicians and bookmans have devoted great attempt to research the field of IHRM and at that place have developed 1000s of literatures which support the impression that international human resource direction is progressively an of import subject. Most of their focal point has been on IHRM issues in MNCs. Further, much of the literature deals specifically with pull offing exiles ( Napier, 1998 ).This literature reappraisal is divided into five parts. First portion provides a brief debut of the IHRM definition. In the 2nd portion, grounds for the increasing importance of IHRM are explained. Then, the writer introduces strategic IHRM and an integrative model of Strategic IHRM in MNCs

Definition of International Human Resource Management ( IHRM )

What is IHRM? Actually, it is non easy to supply a precise definition of international human resource direction ( IHRM ) because the duty of an HR trough in a transnational corporation ( MNC ) varies from one house to another. By and large talking, IHRM is the effectual use of human resources in a corporation in an international environment. Scullion ( 1995: p352 ) defined IHRM as “ the HRM issues and jobs originating from the internationalisation of concern, and the HRM schemes, policies and patterns which houses pursue in response to the internationalisation of concern ”.

In most surveies, the term IHRM has traditionally focused on exile ( Brewster and Harris, 1999 ). However, IHRM covers a far wider spectrum than exile direction. Four major activities basically concerned with IHRM were recruitment and choice, preparation and development, compensation and repatriation of exiles ( Welch, 1994 ). Iles ( 1995 ) besides identifies four key countries in IHRM as enlisting and choice, preparation and development, pull offing multicultural squads and international diverseness and public presentation direction. From the position of world-wide people direction, Hendry ( 1994 ) points out three chief issues in IHRM: 1 ) exile direction and development ; 2 ) the direction internationalisation through the whole organisation ; 3 ) making a corporate civilization to internationalise the corporation to carry through the increasing demand of inter-cultural interactions of making concern abroad and in place state.

Recent definitions concern IHRM with activities of how MNCs pull off their geographically decentralized employees in order to develop their HR resources for competitory advantage, both locally and globally. The function and maps of IHRM, the relationship between subordinates and central offices, and the policies and patterns are considered in this more strategic attack. Dowling, Schuler and Welch define IHRM as “ a aggregation of policies and patterns that a transnational endeavor uses to pull off local and non-local employees it has in states other than their place states ( Dowling et al., 1993: p2 ). ”

Due to the development of globalisation, new challenges occur and increase the complexness of pull offing MNCs. IHRM is seen as a cardinal function to equilibrate the demand for organizing and commanding oversea subordinates, and the demand to accommodate to local environments. Therefore, the definition of IHRM has extended to direction localisation, international coordination, and the development of planetary leading, etc. ( Gregerson et al., 1998 ; Scullion and Starkey, 2000 ).

To sum up, IHRM should non go a description of disconnected responses to typical national jobs nor about the ‘copying ‘ of HRM patterns, as many of these patterns suit national civilizations and establishments. Indeed, issues of concern in IHRM are those of consistence or standardisation within diverse societal and cultural environments ( Nankervis, Compton & A ; Baird, 2002 ).

Reasons for turning importance of IHRM

In order to research the field of IHRM, it is of import to understand why there is gradual addition of involvement in International Human Resource Management. IHRM is of great importance at nowadays for a figure of grounds:

Recent old ages have witnessed the rapid growing of globalisation and international competition. The transnational corporations ( MNCs ) have increased in figure and significance, which lending to the turning importance of the international function of human resource direction ( Black et al., 2000 ).

It has been progressively recognized that the effectivity of human resource direction is one of the major factors to find the success or failure of international concern. There is besides acknowledgment that the quality of direction in international operations seems to be more critical than in domestic operations ( Black et al., 1999 ; Harris et al., 2003 ).

A turning deficit of directors with international exposure and experience is going an increasing lack which affects a company ‘s corporate attempts to spread out abroad. Meanwhile, the emerging markets require directors with typical competency and context-specific cognition of how to make concern successfully in states which are both culturally and economically distantly. Therefore, a larger function for IHRM activities in transnational corporations is assigned ( Black and Gregersen, 1999 ; Morgan et al., 2003 ).

The failure in international concern sphere is frequently dearly-won both in homo and fiscal footings, and is proved to be more terrible than that in domestic concern. Companies need to take precautional steps to develop and counterbalance human resources. This makes a fully fledged IHRM necessary ( Dowling et al., 1999 ).

HR scheme plays a important function in the control and execution in MNCs. It is non hard to find which scheme to prosecute for a MNC in an internationalizing environment. What challenges is how to implement these schemes to be successful. Developing alone organisational civilizations is of far more importance than structural inventions in any planetary or multinational scheme. To this extent, IHRM scheme becomes the important determiner of the execution and success of the MNC scheme ( Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1998 ).

The complex nature of HRM jobs affecting in planetary environment is underestimated by some companies. Poor direction of human resource frequently consequences in concern failures in international concern. Expatriate public presentation failure or underperformance continues to be debatable for IHRM in many international corporations ( Dowling et al. 1994 ).

Strategic IHRM

Under the planetary context, understanding how transnational Corporations ( MNCs ) can run more efficaciously becomes more of import than of all time. This links a MNC with the demand of an internationalized scheme which can direct its subordinates ‘ operation non merely in the place state, but besides in different parts of the universe. There are several grounds to develop IHRM scheme: 1 ) at any degree, HRM is of import to scheme execution ( Hamel & A ; Prahalad, 1986 ; Schuler and Jackson 2001 ) ; 2 ) major strategic constituents of transnational endeavors have a major influence on international direction issues, maps, and policies and patterns ( Edstrom and Galbraith, 1977 ; Robers et al., 1998 ) ; 3 ) the attainment of the concerns and ends of MNCs can be influenced by many of these features of IHRM ( Kobrin, 1992 ) ; 4 ) the survey of IHRM is disputing and of import because there are a broad assortment of factors doing the relationship between MNCs and IHRM composite ( Bartlett and Goshal, 1998, 2000 ; Dowling et al., 1999 ).

Schuler et Al. ( 1993 ) define strategic IHRM as “ human resource direction issues, maps and policies and patterns that result from the strategic activities of transnational endeavors and that impact the international concerns and ends of those endeavors ” ( P422 ). They developed a theoretical account ( see figure 1. ) to analyze the field of Strategic IHRM. The theoretical account shows the linkage of of import elements connected with IHRM, the importance of integrating and distinction of these elements.

Exogenous Factors

Industry Features

Country/ Regional Features

MNC Concerns and Goals



Responsiveness Flexibility

Transportation of Knowledge and larning

SIHRM Issues

Interunit Linkages

-control/ assortment

Internal Operationss

– Local sensitiveness

/ Strategic tantrum

SIHRM Function




Strategic MNC Components

Interunit Linkages

Internal Operationss

SIHRM Policies/






Endogenous Factors

Structure of International operations

Headquarters international orientation

Competitive Scheme

Experience in Managing International Operations

Figure 1. Integrative model of Strategic IHRM in MNCs

In the theoretical account, two major strategic constituents of MNCs that influence Strategic IHRM are pointed out: interunit linkages and internal operations. Sing interunit linkages, transnational endeavors are concerned with how to effectual run their assorted global runing units. In peculiar, the cardinal aims appear to be how these runing units are to be differentiated and integrated, controlled and coordinated. For strategic IHRM, the issues associated with integration and organizing an MNC ‘s units represent a major influence on strategic IHRM issues, policies and patterns ( Schuler et al., 1993 ). With regard to internal operations, they require the same attending as the linkage of the units, since they all influence MNC effectivity. Each unit has to be operated every bit efficaciously as possible relation to the competitory scheme of the MNC and the unit itself ( Schuler et al., 2002 ).

It has been argued that the success of strategic IHRM in a MNC is mostly influenced by the quality of it human resources and how efficaciously the corporation ‘s employees are managed ( Bartlett and Goshal, 1992 ). There are three attacks which describe how transnational companies manage the human resources and their abroad subordinates: ethnocentric, polycentric and geocentric.

Eethnocentric Approach

This pattern normally happens in the early phase of a house ‘s internationalisation engagement. With this attack, strategic determinations are all made by the central offices and the direction patterns are transferred to the subordinates. Most of import places are filled by parent-country subjects ( PCNs ).As a consequence, small liberty is given to abroad runing units. During this phase, place state expatriates exercise tight control.

Polycentric Approach

When the scheme becomes polycentric, there is a pronounced diminution in the figure of PCNs directing abroad and their function alterations into communicating and coordination of strategic aims. Host-country subjects ( HCNs ) are recruited to pull off the runing units in their ain state because local directors know more about the local fortunes and are more familiar with local concern moralss. More liberty is given to local directors to develop their ain direction patterns appropriate for the subordinate.

Geocentric Approach

This attack relates most closely to the planetary or multinational scheme. Choice of employees is based on competence instead than nationality. The best of headquarter and local patterns are combined by MNCs in order to come up with a global-implemented HR scheme.

Most MNCs take the IHRM scheme as a guideline and implement it locally. It is hence the HR directors ‘ duties to supply the proper international HR scheme to fix and pull off the employees in their place state or an international assignment.

IHRM and Culture

Different civilizations of assorted states and MNCs are one of the most of import and hard challenges to the behavior of IHRM. National and organisational civilizations differentiate from one state and house from those of another. Often these differences clash when companies conduct concern in transnational environment. Cultural differences across states can act upon people in their work environment ( Harzing & A ; Ruysseveldt, 2004 ).

Hofstede ( 1984 ) defines civilization as “ corporate scheduling of the head which distinguishes the members of one human group from another ” ( Hofstede, 1984: P21 ). It is of import to understand peoples ‘ different cultural backgrounds to be able to place the effects for international direction. Harmonizing to Medich ( 1995 ), civilization is a important variable in international assignments and should be included in international direction patterns ( Medich, 1995 ). As it is claimed by Briscoe and Schuler ( 2004 ) that “ knowledge about and competence in working with state and company civilizations is the most of import issue impacting the success of international concern activity ” ( Briscoe and Schuler, 2004: P114 ), understanding assorted values, beliefs and behaviours of people are indispensable facets of success for making concern internationally.

Understanding Culture as Layers of Meaning

The multiple beds of significance of “ civilization ” are one of the complexnesss that make it so hard to pull off. There are a big figure of readily discernible features ( such as nutrient, art, vesture, salutations and historical landmarks ) that differ evidently from other states or operations. Sometimes these are referred as manifestations of underlying values and premises which are much less obvious.

One manner to understand this complexness is explained by the beds of civilization theoretical account ( see Figure 2 ). The theoretical account represents civilization as a series of beds. Traveling from outside to inside, each bed represents less and less expressed values and premises while the values and premises become more of import in finding the attitudes and behaviours.

Surface Culture

Concealed Culture

Invisible Culture

Figure 2. Model of Culture Layers

The outermost bed, which is called the surface bed, corresponds to readily seeable values and premises, like frock, organic structure linguistic communication and nutrient. The in-between bed or the concealed civilization bed corresponds to faiths, values and doctrines refering for illustration what is right and incorrect. The unseeable bed at the nucleus represents one civilization ‘s cosmopolitan truths, which is most hard for aliens to understand ( Briscoe & A ; Schuler, 2004 ). Harmonizing to Harzing and Ruysseveldt ( 2004 ) there exist different cultural dimension among different civilizations. These cultural dimensions have been identified and one often cited work from a well-known research worker within this cultural dimension field is Geert Hofstede.

Hofstede ‘s cultural dimensions

Hofstede have identified five cultural dimensions for which each state could be classified in. These five dimensions are power distance, uncertainness turning away, individuality versus Bolshevism, maleness versus muliebrity, and long-run versus short-run orientation ( Hofstede, 2001 ). Power distance indicates the degree of inequality in establishments and organisations. A state with big power distance is characterized by formal hierarchies and by subsidiaries who have small influence in their ain work and where the foreman have entire authorization. Uncertainty turning away focuses on the degree in which people in a certain state digest uncertainness and ambiguity within the society. High uncertainness indicates that the state has a low tolerance for uncertainness and ambiguity. This will necessarily make a society which is rule-oriented, which institutes Torahs, ordinances and controls to decrease the sum of uncertainness ( Hofstede, 1984 ).

Individualism versus Bolshevism refers to the grade where people prefer to take attention of themselves, and doing their ain determinations instead than being bound to groups or households. A extremely individualistic society consists of normally impersonal and loose relationships between persons, while a low individualistic society has more tight relationships between persons, therefore referred to as Bolshevism by Hofstede ( 1984 ). The maleness versus muliebrity dimension describes if a civilization are bound towards values that are seen as more similar to adult females ‘s or work forces ‘s values. Masculinity is characterized by stereotype adjectives such as assertiveness and competitory, while the muliebrity is characterized by modestness and sensitiveness. A high maleness ranking indicates the state experiences a high grade of gender differences, normally prefering work forces instead than adult females. The fifth and last cultural dimension is long-run versus short-run orientation. A long-run orientated society stress on constructing a hereafter oriented position in contrast to the short-run oriented society which values the present and past ( Hofstede, 2001 ).


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