Toward an Integrative Model of Strategic International Human Resource Management

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O Academy of Management Review
1996, Vol. 21, No, 4, 959-385.

TOWARD AN INTEGRATIVE MODEL OF STRATEGIC INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT SULLY TAYLOR Portland State University SCHON BEECHLER Columbia University NANCY NAPIER Boise State University This article builds on previous work in intemational human resource management by drawing on concepts from the resource-based view of the firm and resource dependence to develop a theoretical model of the determinants of strategic intemational human resource management (SIHRM) systems in multinational corporations. The article then offers propositions concerning the relationships between a number of key determinants and the multinational corp>oration's overall SIHRM approach, the design of a particular affiliate's HRM system, and the HRM system for critical groups of employees within the affiliate.

As multinational corporations (MNCs) and their overseas affiliates have become increasingly important players in the global economy, interest in and research of the strategies and management practices of these firms have also grown (e.g., Hamel & Prahalad, 1985; Ohmae, 1990; Porter. 1986; Prahalad & Doz. 1987; Rosenzweig & Singh. 1991). Although researchers have explored numerous issues internal and external to the MNC, there is a growing consensus that a key differentiator between the corporate winners and losers in the 21st century will be the effectiveness of the human organization (Bartlett & Ghoshal, 1994, 1995; Pfeffer, 1994; Pucik, 1992; Tichy, Brimm. Charan, & Takeuchi, 1992; Ulrich & Lake, 1990). In an effort to effectively leverage human resources to implement the intended strategies of organizations, researchers and practitioners alike have begun to explore the theoretical and empirical linkages between human resource management (HRM) and strategy both in the domestic (e.g., Butler, Ferris, & Napier, 1991; Fombrun, Tichy, & Devanna, 1984; Lengnick-Hall & Lengnick-Hall, 1988; Schuler & Jackson, 1987; Wright &

We are very grateful to those who commented on earlier versions of this article: Talya Bauer, Rot)ert Eder, Mauro Guillen, Stan Slater, and Pam Tiemey. We also acknowledge the insightful and constructive comments of the three anonymous reviewers. 959

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McMahan. 1992) and international contexts (e.g.. Adler & Ghadar. 1990; Kobrin. 1992; Milliman, von Glinow. & Nathan, 1991; Schuler, Dowling, & De Cieri, 1993). In this article, we draw on a number of recent models of strategic international human resource management (SIHRM). which have greatly furthered our understanding of the factors that influence the design of an MNCs SIHRM system. Work in the strategy and organizational theory fields also has generated a number of theoretical perspectives that provide valuable frameworks for understanding SIHRM. In this article, we draw on two such frameworks, the resource-based theory of the firm (e.g.. Barney, 1991; Conner. 1991; Penrose, 1959; Wernerfelt. 1984) and resource dependence (e.g.. Pfeifer & Salancik, 1978) and apply these frameworks to examine SIHRM at three distinct but interrelated levels of analysis: the MNC as a whole, the affiliate, and individual groups of employees within the affiliate. Resource-based theory adds to prior models of SIHRM the fundamental notion that in order to provide value to the business, the SIHRM system of global firms should be constructed around specific organizational competencies that are critical for securing competitive advantage in a global environment (Pucik, 1992). The resource dependence framework helps identify those situations in which MNCs will exercise control over the SIHRM system of their affiliates. This article begins with a definition of terms and a brief review of the contributions of prior models of SIHRM to the field. We then describe a model of SIHRM that elaborates a system that examines both the determinants and the evolution of SIHRM systems over time....
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