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Journal Article Analysis|
What Do HR Managers Really Do? HR Roles on International Projects| |



The research article being reviewed is titled- What Do HR Managers Really Do? HR Roles on International Projects by Catherine L. Welch & Denice E. Welch. It was published by Management International Review in the year 2012 issue 52 pages 597-617. The article provides a comprehensive insight into how different HR functions support international assignments by identifying the roles played by HR functions and also understanding how these roles are played effectively, through the answers given by the research participants. The authors conduct an empirical study to conclude their findings. The authors also include an interesting dimension to their research by way of adding an ‘emotional’ quotient to the enactment of HR roles. The methodology used is very robust and rationale with relevant prior research undertaken by the authors. The author’s findings are depicted using tables followed by a comprehensive explanation which is easy to understand and the conclusion reiterates the scope of the research and highlights key findings, giving rise to further very relevant topics for research.

The authors through their research have not only tried to answer questions such as the roles of HR managers in an international project setting but also tried to explain the enactment of these roles by the IHR managers. The main purpose of this research paper is in encompassing HR role theory to the international stage. The authors also put forward an argument about the role enactment being context-specific and explain how these contexts could be either constraints or enablers for the IHR role plays. The flow of the article is very structured, starting off with the literature review and provides the theoretical basis for the research. This is followed by the procedure followed for conducting research and method used to gather and analyze the data. The findings give way to the IHR roles identified and categorized in the research and account for the differences and similarities across the companies. The article through its findings adds to the existing literature on HR roles and puts forward the question of the customary divide between strategic and operational HR roles. The research article through its findings categories the five HR role typologies and includes a new refined category that of ‘welfare officer’. The other four categories being that of service provider, policy police, strategic partner and change agent. All these four categories are similar to already existing HR role typologies. The authors have identified each category using the empirical evidence deduced from their research data collected while interviewing interviewees from each company and they have used these categories and events to compare the each company in the enactment of their IHR roles. Service provider role enactment

As one of the HR roles identified by the authors through their research, service provider plays an important role in international human resource management especially in international project scenarios. As per Ulrich (1997, p. 27) and cited in this research article the service provider role encompasses proficient administrative role play wherein the HR staff are responsible for maintaining the organizational infrastructure and manage the swift movement of employees during the stages of the project. The research indicated that all five companies had an in-house infrastructure for conducting these services. All the five companies’ HR staff was heavily involved in providing administrative support to employees. The authors through their findings suggest that for project to be efficacious the administrative element was crucial. Another key finding based on the information gathered through their interviews was the possibility of conflicts arising in the...
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