Culture and International Human Resource Management Strategies


Over the last decade numerous authors have sought to describe the key competencies required by MNCs and their managers to be successful in International Human Resource Management strategies. However, until relatively recently, much of this literature described general competencies required of managers, including flexibility, resourcefulness and the ability to articulate a vision for the organisation, irrespective of managerial or operational domain. Whilst these general competencies are important, there are unique competencies required to succeed as a global manager. MNCs require talented managers possessing ‘global mindsets’ who are equipped to navigate the complexities of transnational business and able to articulate and execute corporate strategy from a multi-country perspective, requiring them to connect and engage with numerous parties, including employees, staff, customers, suppliers and government officials possessing fundamentally different values, assumptions, beliefs and traditions (Cant, 2004).


However, many authors, (Hise et al, 2000), suggest that managers are often ill prepared for the realties of international assignments and naive, concerning the cultural complexities of global business, which Cant (2004) regards as being critical to their success or otherwise. On the surface this indicates some MNCs are failing to adequately support their executives and ultimately undermining chances of global success, suggesting a conscious failure to maximise their most important resource. However, closer inspection reveals competing forces for differentiation and integration of management practices within MNCs. Thus, it is evident that IHRM should be implemented. The Strategy International HRM (IHRM) consists of HR function strategy and HR practices like selection, socialization, performance evaluation, compensation, career development and dismissal. However, it should be noted that cultural aspect plays in these entire context barring selection and dismissal.

Differentiation and integration of HRM

The tension between differentiation and integration of HRM practices is a recurrent theme in strategic international human resource management in the context of cross culture employees. Much of this literature concerns the competing demands faced by organisations operating internationally for global integration and co-ordination versus local responsiveness, often referred to as the ‘Global versus Local’ dilemma. This dilemma is an extension of the debate surrounding convergence or divergence of work values. The concepts of differentiation and integration within an organisational context is driven by cultural aspect, asserting that international organisations operating in diverse locations are required to be both appropriately differentiated, for local responsiveness, and sufficiently integrated to ensure co-ordination exists between business divisions to realise organisational objectives, Tayeb (2005).

Managerial interventions

International HRD suggests that MNCs divide global managerial interventions into either three or four categories on the basis of cultural aspects. In addition to company specific programmes, MNCs managerial training interventions take the form of global talent development seminars and cross-cultural initiatives for expatriate assignees or those engaged across the organisations globally dispersed business divisions. This study considers the cultural factors which must be addressed when designing and delivering managerial training and development interventions.


As highlighted in this discussion, it is widely asserted that diverse value systems contained in organisations international operations hold significant implications, not only in conducting global business but also for developing managers with the appropriate competencies to perform cross-cultural transactions. This raises the question of whether MNCs utilise value frameworks in training and developing managers with diverse, cultural, educational and experiential profiles. Recent literature suggests that MNCs can also greatly benefit from synergies existing across subsidiaries. It would be of considerable interest and benefit to identify these amongst the organisations contributing to the forthcoming dissertation in order to assess whether they are applicable and beneficial to other firms. (Gaur et al 2007)

Furthermore, there are number of implications for IHRDs and training professionals in global organisations. At this juncture it is not clear whether these organisational members are redefining their roles and contribution to the business. However, it can be suggested that their roles will gain increasing prominence and importance in light of the intensifying global business environment. This suggests such professionals will be under increasing scrutiny to develop new, creative training and development methods to ensure MNCs managers are equipped with the required competencies to perform at the desired level. As suggested earlier, there is an emerging branch of literature asserting the limitations of organisations internal IHRDs. This would suggests that the existence of a gap between what these professionals can offer and what is required, which can only be bridged through utilising external ‘on hand’ consultants, which would appear to add additional pressure to IHRDs. In response to this apparent threat, it will be of great interest to assess the extent to which organisations have both sought to further develop ‘traditional’ methods and considered alternatives.


Cant, A.G. (2004) “Internationalizing the Business Curriculum: Developing Intercultural Competence”. Journal of American Academy of Business, Vol. 5, Issue 1/2, pp. 177-182

Gaur, Ajai S., Delios, A & Singh, K 2007, “Institutional Environments, Staffing Strategies, and Subsidiary Performance”, Journal of Management 33, 2, 611.

Hise, R., Moshe, D,. and Troy, L. (2000) “Global geographical knowledge of business students: An update and recommendations for improvement”. Journal of Teaching in International Business 11(4): 1-22

Tayeb, M. H., (2005) International Human Resource Management: A Multinational Company Perspective, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Find out your order's cost