International Human Resource Management
How culture-sensitive is HRM? A comparative analysis of practice in Chinese and UK companies
Mark Easterby-Smithy Danusia Malina and Lu Yuan
There has been some concern about the extent to which models and practices of HRM are capable of being transferred from one country to another. This emerged in the late 1970s as concern that Japanese ideas might be adopted uncritically by US companies, and during the 1980s as concem that these ideas, after recycling within the US, might not be totally appropriate for consumption in other parts of the world. Further urgency is added to the question by the pressures on many organizations to develop their businesses internationally, or globally - since this increasingly means they have to consider and establish HRM policies which can span different national systems and cultures. This paper considers the problem through a direct comparison of practices in matched Chinese and UK companies in order to establish where variations occur both within and between countries. It is evident that there are considerable variations in the form of HRM in different settings, but also some surprising similarities. Thus, for example, there are more similarities in manpower planning systems between Chinese companies and some of the UK. companies than there are between all the UK companies. In this case it can be concluded that these elements are not greatly affected by national (and assumed cultural) differences. On the other hand, there is a sharp difference between the UK and Chinese companies with regard to pay and reward systems, but much consistency within each country. This suggests that there may be deep-seated differences between the two countries with regard to attitudes towards rewards which will limit the transferability of HRM ideas in this area.
HRM, China, culture, careers, appraisal, manpower planning
© Routledge 1995
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