Theodore Levitt, writing in 1983, is often credited with describing economic globalization as it is currently understood today. His original article was subject to a HBS Colloquium in 2003; the area of particular interest being the dissolution of national and regional preference, and the requirement for business enterprises (and those employed within them) to understand the difference between multinational and global corporations and activities; in the former an entity regards each geographic area as distinct and adjusts its prices and products accordingly, while globalization would indicate products, prices and services being targeted and delivered in a more uniform and encompassing manner (Levitt 1983). This approach and definition is still relevant, and the nature of internationally mobile resources and interdependent economies is examined in the preamble to the OECD's globalisation handbook (OECD 2005), and its implications have been studied in depth, particularly regarding the economic impact of migrating employment needs and the changes in job types and skills requirements resulting from both the influx and relocation of trade, goods and services (Warner 2002; Jenkins 2006).
Nevertheless, this is a look at the broader picture. While firms must understand the new dynamics, they must still understand that globalization has failed to change many of the fundamental characteristics of national citizenship (Hoffman 2002). While this clash and conflict is demonstrated at its most extreme by the proliferation of religion and culture as determinants of terrorism (Arystanbekova 2004; Huntington 1996), the more practical implication for business would seem to be that they will increasingly, irrespective of size, be required to operate across borders and cultures.
Literature regarding the practices and methods used by human resource managers initially tackled the role that expatriate workers would play in such a scenario, though over the past two decades this has broadened into a wider discussion of cross-cultural issues and managerial practices, such as leadership, workforce management and the need to reconcile conflicting personal viewpoints, required in such situations (April 2000; Bures & Vloeburghs 2001; Brewster et al 2005). Furthermore, human resource thinking has started to reconcile itself internally, mainly following from the increasing development of strategic partnerships and international joint ventures within the business community requiring a more integrated approach to human resource management. The most obvious example of this is in the convergence of the, previously separate, schools of comparative and international human resource management The first generally being concerned, as the name would imply, with the study of differences for their own sake, while the latter addressed the implications of such differences. (Boxall 1995; Budhwar & Sparrow 2002).
Following on from this identified need to consider the broader issues of cross-cultural issues, came the realisation that such considerations should be integrated more into the overall corporate strategy, and this has lead to the continued realisation that knowing how to "elicit the best from individual differences and incorporate them into an effective working environment" is not just a sign of good people management, but an increasingly fundamental key to success and competitive advantage, and one that needs to be addressed at the micro- and macro-organisational levels (Waller Vallario 2006; Wright et al 1994; de Saá-Pérez & García-Falcón 2002).On a more prosaic level, increased globalisation has lead to increased spread of workplaces, with the continued uptake of virtual teams' and working at home; partly as a result of simple geographic spread, but also because both developed and emergent markets are seeing sea changes in how employees wish to balance life and work (April 2000; Boninelli & Meyer 2004; Berg et al 2003). These...