A Typology of International Human Resource Management Strategies and Processes

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Int. J. of Hutnan Re.source Management 17:4 April 2006 580-601 ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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A typology of international human resource management strategies and processes

Michael Dickmann and Michael MUller-Camen
Abstract This paper develops a framework of international human resource management (lHRM) that moves bcyotid strategy and structtire to focus on proces.ses. The results of six case studies of large German multinational corporations in three countries show different conligurations of IHRM strategies and policies. International knowledge flows and coordination varied in intensity, content, direction and tiiechanistiis used. With 'cognofederate' IHRM one type was identified that has been hitherto neglected. Keywords International human resource management; multinational corporations; strategy; processes; coordination.

Intruductinn: The search for competitive advantage The search for the elements of intetnational competitive advantage has been a prominent theme in the management literature ofthe past decades. In the 1960s, Perltnutter (1969) presented inliuetitial ideas on the international orientation of managers. One of his types, geocentrism. balances dotiiestic and international tensions. Even if it is po.ssible to be sitnultaneously globally efficient and locally responsive, this does not on its own make a multinational corporation (MNC) successful. Instead, many authors have identified innovation as one key to corporate success (Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1989; Hedlund and Rolander, 1990; Porter, 198.'S; Pucik. 1992). The ideas of competitive strategies aitiiing at responsiveness, efficiency and innovation have been applied to the realm of internalional hutnan resource management {IHRM). A number of authors (e.g.. Adler and Ghadar. 1990; Schuler and Jackson, 1987) have argued that the underlying dimensions determining business strategy and structure can also be used in IHRM. Given the importance of IHRM. it is surprising that lelatively few studies have attempted to assess the IHRM configurations of worldwide operating enterprises. Harzing's (2000) review of major research into typologies of MNCs finds that the predominant analyses were of strategies and structures. Among those that do eover HRM. the .studies by Perlmutter (1969) and Adler and Ghadar (1990) are conceptual and, therefore, lack empirical verification. Bartlett and Ghoshal (1989) outline nine cases but the characteristics of their four configurations are discussed unsystematically (Dickmann. 1999; Harzing, 2000). While detailed studies have emerged about HRM policies and practices of MNCs originating in piirticular countties (Femer et ai, 2(K)1; Festing, 1997; Kopp, 1994) or operating in specific host environments (Femer et ai. Miehael Dickmann, Cranfield University, Sehool of Management, Leadership and Organization, Cranfteld. Bedford MK43 OAL. UK (tel: +44 - MM 751122: e-mail: M.Dickmann® cranlield.ac.uk: Michael Muller-Camcn. Middlesex University Business School. The Burroughs, London NW4 4BT. UK (tel: +44 20 8411 5241; e-mail: M.Mulier-Canien@mdx.ac.uk). The Inteniaiioiiat Journal of Human Ri-sourre Management ISSN 0958-5192 prini/lSSN 14(i6-4.1W .mline r;

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Dickmann and Miiller-Camen: IHRM .strategies and processes

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employees and HR policies. All six case companies were in ihe DAX stock market index of the biggest 30 German listed organizations."* Each firm has signilicuntly increased its internatinna! operations in the past two decades, which has led to a much higher percentage ol foreign staff in relation to total employees. All companies were striicUired along the M-form and had several decades of experience with foreign operations. This meant they had time to evolve as international organizations and to reline iheir...
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