International Human Resource Management Essay
International Human Resource Management
1.0 Executive Summary
The world of international HR management (IHRM) is changing. As companies shift operations abroad, IHRM is moving beyond expatriate programs. Today’s IHR managers are charged with scaling and managing overseas HR operations. This shift has not only created new opportunities for IHRM professionals, but also for companies looking to staff operations abroad.
Possibly one of the greatest challenges facing the IHRMs is the fact that they are now dealing with not an individual employee but a whole family and their needs as a family in the relocation process. Some IHRMs find it more difficult than others to adjust to the added dimension of having to deal with the spouse and family on a more intimate level than before. After all, they are now relocating them halfway around the world and away from their support structures. They have to be prepared to get a lot more involved in the family as a whole and not just think they have to communicate with the employee only as is often the case when dealing with an employee here at home base.
Throughout this assignment, we are examined the implications of differences in national culture for policy and practice in of the following aspects of human resource management:
* Performance appraisal
* Training and development
2.0 Training and Development
Important components of international human resources management include both cross-cultural training and a clear understanding of the overseas assignment as part of a manager’s development.
Cross-cultural training is necessary for expatriates managers and their families before, during and after foreign assignments. As different countries have different culture, regardless how close of those areas, such as Taiwan and Mainland China, USA and Canada. Maybe they are talking the same language, however, their perception of social values, business practices are different. In Western, especially in USA, people are more individualism. In the contrary, Eastern people, such as Chinese and Japanese, people are more collectivism. The social system also different in Western and Eastern, the former is low power distant and the later is higher power distant. When those expatriates arrive, they are foreigners, not the host population, it is necessary to provide much cultural and practical background. Language training is an essential activity for everyone in the family.
Although English is the dominant business language worldwide, relying on English puts the expatriates at a disadvantage. The expatriate will be unable to read trade journals and newspapers, which contain useful business information, and will be reliant on translators, which at best only slow down discussions in the process. Evan if expatriates manager is not fluent, a willingness to try communicating in local language makes a good impression on the business community. Foreign language proficiency is also vital for family members to establish a social network and accomplish the everyday tasks of maintaining a household.
But cross-cultural training is much more than just language training. It should provide an appreciation of the new culture, including details of its history and folklore, economy, politics, religion, social climate, and business practices. It is easy to recognize that religion is highly important in daily life in the Middle East, but knowledge of the region’s history and an understanding of the specific practices and beliefs is important to avoid inadvertently insulting business associates or social contacts.
All this training can be carried out through a variety of techniques. Language skills are often provided through classes and tapes, while cultural training utilizes many different tools. Lectures, reading materials, videotapes, and movies are useful for background information, while cultural sensitivity is more often taught through role playing, simulations and meetings with former expatriates, as well as natives of the countries now living in the parent countries.
While all this training in advance of the overseas relocation is important, cultural learning takes place during the assignment as well. After the overseas assignment has ended and the employee has returned, more training is required for the entire family. The employee also must adjust to organization changes, including the inevitable promotions, transfers, and resignations that have taken place during his or her absence. Teenager find reentry particularly difficult, as they are ignorant of the most recent jargon and the latest trends, but often are more sophisticated and mature than their local friends. The employee also must adjust to organizational changes, including the inevitable promotions, transfers and registrations that have taken place during his or her absence. Returnees are anxious to know where to fit in, or if they have been gone for so long that they no longer are on a career path.
In the current global business environment, the overseas assignment should be a vital component in the development of top-executives. It is not only to achieve the advantages for the individual in overseas assignment, but also an organization can gain the competitive advantages from their overseas employee.
It is also a chance to provide the host counties employees to broaden their global perspective through a post in the parent-country headquarter, and may make it easier for the organization to recruit and retain better quality managers in the host country.
Development is an essential activity to the individual to improve the individual’s ability during the assignment and to well perform their jobs.
3.0 Performance appraisal
In evaluating employee performance in international environments, other factors come into plays. For instance, the cultural differences between the United States and England are not as great as those between the United Stated and China, for example. Thus, hostility or friendliness of the cultural environment in which one manager should be considered when appraising employee performance.
3.1 The responsibilities of the evaluation
There are also issues to consider regarding who will be responsible for the evaluations: the host-country management or the parent country management. Although local management would generally consider a more accurate gauge, it typically evaluates expatriates from its own cultural perspectives and expectations, which may not reflect those of the parent company. For example, in some countries, a participatory style of management is acceptable, while in other countries, hierarchical values make it disgrace to ask employees for ideas (for e.g. in Japan). This could vastly alter a supervisor’s performance appraisal.
Confusion may arise from the use of parent-country evaluation forms if they are misunderstood, either because the form has been improperly translated or not translated at all, or because the evaluator is uncertain what a particular question means. The home-office managements, on the other hand, is often so remote that it may not be fully informed on what is going on in an overseas office. Because they lack access and because one organization may have numerous foreign operations to evaluate, home-office managements often measure performance by quantitative indices, such as profits, market shares, or gross sales.
However, simple numbers are often quite complex in their calculations and data are not always comparable. For example, if a company has many operations in Fast East Asia, it must be aware of the accounting practices in each country. Local import tariffs can also distort pricing schedules, which alter gross sales figures, another often compared statistic. Evan when the measurements are comparable, the comparison country will have an affect. For example, factory productivity levels in Vietnam may be below those of similar plants in Thailand. Depending on where the supervisor’s results are compared, different outcomes may occur. Such issues complicate parent country management performance evaluations by numerical criteria, or indices – and can add to the emotional levels in appraisals.
3.2 Evaluation Format
Other issues surround the question of selecting the best format to use in performance appraisals, If we have an overseas operation that includes both parent country nationals and host country nationals, we must determine if we will use the same forms for all employee. While most Western countries accept the concept of performance evaluation, some cultures interpret it as a sign of distrust or even an insult to an employee. This complicates a decision to use one instrument like an adjective rating scale for all employees. On the other hand, using different formats for PCNs and HCNs may create a dual track in the subsidiary, in turn creating other problems.
The evaluation form presents other problems. If there is universal form for the entire corporation, an organization must determine how it will be translated accurately into the native language of each country. English forms may not be readily understood by local supervisors. For example, clerical and office jobs do not always have identical requirements in all cultures. As a result, some U.S. multinational may be hesitant about evaluating HCNs and TCNs. In some countries, notably those that support the Communist ideology, all workers are rewarded only when the group performs – with punishment or discipline being highly limited. For example, in the hotel industry in the People’s Republic of China. Without the ability to reward good individual performance or to punish poor performance, there is little motivation to have any evaluation at all.
Although the subject of international performance appraisal continues to receive research attention, two general recommendations have been suggested as follow:
* Modify the normal performance criteria of the evaluation sheet for a particular position to fit the overseas position and site characteristics. Expatriates who have returned from a particular site or same country can provide useful input into revising criteria to reflect the possibilities and constraints of a given location.
* Include a current expatriate’s insights as part of evaluation. This means that non-standardized criteria, which are difficult to measure, will be included, perhaps in different basis for each country. This creates some administrative difficulties at headquarters, but in long run will be a more equitable system.
1. Peter J. Dowling, Denice E. Welch and Randall S. Schuler, International Human Resource Management – Managing People in a Multinational Context, South Western College Publishing, 3rd Edition
2. Nancy J. Adler, International Dimensions of Organization Behavior, South Western College Publishing, 3rd Edition
3. David A. Decenzo, Stephen P. Robbins, Human Resourc Management, John Wiley & Sons Inc., 7th Edition.
4. Ian Breadwell and Len Holden, Human resource management – a contemporary approach, FT Prentice Hall, 3rd Edition