International Human Resource Management

Economic, social, cultural and political globalization have all contributed to the growth of economic activity that cuts across national borders and to the emergence and proliferation of organizations that transcend national boundaries. Increasingly, organizations are engaged in the employment contract in multiple different national employment systems. The human resources of organizations are located in multiple country locations. Internationalization thereby becomes a key challenge for the practitioners and a dimension that cannot be taken as given or standard for scholars of HRM. In a context of the transformation of a growing number of organizations (and especially the largest ones) into “transnational social spaces”, HRM practices flow across borders. Some strategic scholarship argues that such flows are critical to the success of individual firms, and concentrate their efforts on identifying “best practices” that will yield the greatest leverage to each. Strategic scholarship keen to understand what will work best to increase the efficiency and financial performance of multinational organizations also studies the various “glitches” that might obstruct flows or make the flows of HRM practices everywhere not always desirable.

This module examines the challenges of managing human resources against a backdrop of cross-cultural and institutional work contexts and teams, variation in local socio-political-legal contexts and the necessity for cross-border assignments. The analytical/critical approach to IHRM taken concerns itself with questions of whether employment (and HRM) practices are converging or diverging around the world, how power and politics are implicated in the internal dynamics of multinational corporations, and if the corporate social responsibility pledges for appropriate treatment of workers can possibly suffice to ensure a fair employment relationship in the absence of a transnational regulator, among others.