Human Resource Management Review

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HUMRES-00366; No of Pages 18
Human Resource Management Review xxx (2010) xxx–xxx

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Human Resource Management Review
j o u r n a l h o m e p a g e : w w w. e l s e v i e r. c o m / l o c a t e / h u m r e s

Hearing a different drummer? Convergence of human resource management in Europe — A longitudinal analysis Wolfgang Mayrhofer a,⁎, Chris Brewster b, Michael J. Morley c,1, Johannes Ledolter d,2 a b c d

WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business), Althanstr. 51, A-1090 Wien, Austria University of Reading, PO Box 218, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AA, UK Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland Department of Management Sciences, University of Iowa, S352 Pappajohn Building, Iowa City, IA 52242-1000, USA

a r t i c l e
Available online xxxx

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
In this paper we explore the notion of convergence in managerial practice as a result of globalization. Focused on convergence at the national level, we offer a more nuanced exposition of convergence than has been evident in previous literature and draw upon a study that empirically analyzes the development of HRM in larger private sector firms in 13 European countries between 1992 and 2004 to examine any evidence of human resource management practices becoming more alike. We find considerable evidence of directional similarity – practices increasing or decreasing in the same way across the countries – but no evidence of final convergence — countries becoming more alike in the way they manage people. The findings have important implications for theories of convergence, theories of HRM, and for practitioners in multinational corporations. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Convergence Longitudinal study Human resource management Europe

1. Introduction

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), Walden, 1854

The convergence debate, focused on the issue of whether nation states, economies and management practices are becoming more alike through globalization, has become a key feature of much social science theorizing. Early heralds of converging trends (Rojek, 1986) include Marx' (2002 (Orig. 1844)) ideas of capitalist accumulation, Durkheim's (1967 (Orig. 1933)) shift from mechanical to organic solidarity, Weber's (1980 (Orig. 1921)) model of bureaucracy and rationalization processes, and Veblen's (1904) proposition of the inevitable convergence of countries' organizational structures and value systems as they modernize. Later, Kerr, Dunlop, Harbison, and Myers (1960) postulated that the logic of industrialization produced common values, beliefs and systems of organization, despite different ideologies, politics and cultures. Galbraith contended that modern man's “area of decision is, in fact, exceedingly small” and that “the imperatives of organization, technology and planning operate similarly, and … ⁎ Corresponding author. Tel.: + 43 1 31336 4554; fax: +43 1 31336 724. E-mail addresses: wolfgang.mayrhofer@wu-wien.ac.at (W. Mayrhofer), c.j.brewster@reading.ac.uk (C. Brewster), michael.morley@ul.ie (M.J. Morley), johannes-ledolter@uiowa.edu (J. Ledolter). 1 Tel.: + 353 61 202 273. 2 Tel.: + 1 319 335 3814. 1053-4822/$ – see front matter © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.hrmr.2010.09.011

Please cite this article as: Mayrhofer, W., et al., Hearing a different drummer? Convergence of human resource management in Europe — A longitudinal analysis, Human Resource Management Review (2010), doi:10.1016/j.hrmr.2010.09.011

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to a broadly similar result, on all societies” (1967: 336). Most recently, the collapse of communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe and the process of marketization...
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