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International Level of HR

How do you manage HR on an international level?

Jeff Benviniste

On a domestic level, the management and nurturing of talent is the driving force for most industries and therefore the primary driver of HRM policies is its human resource needs. However on a global level, there are more complex drivers at play.

The internationalisation of operations involves locating, sourcing, managing and developing talent in different parts of the world. This is a tough job, considering the different needs of the organisation in often very diverse cultural settings or business environments. Indeed, many international organisations still struggle to effectively globalise HRM and thus develop effective capabilities to find, select and manage people across diverse teams, business unit and territories. Despite the benefits of internationalising, some global businesses still retain the concentration of workforce and assets in their home countries or region.

Effectively internationalising HRM policies involves understanding and investigating of the drivers of international HRM before integrating and implementing them as part of our everyday HR activities.

So what are the key drivers of HRM policy within this international context?

There’s the obvious challenge of balancing the standardisation of HR policies across the entire organisation with the customisation of HR functions in different business units located across different countries. Schuler and Tarique (2007) describe the factors that drive international HRM under two key headings – functional realignment and global capabilities.

In terms of functional realignment there are five specific factors that drive the HRM strategy of multinational companies – 1) efficiency; 2) information exchange or organisational learning; 3) international provisions; 4) convergence of key business processes; and 5) localisation of HRM policies.

With regard to the progressive development of global capabilities, there are factors to consider such as: 1) focusing on collective service structures; 2) enabling of different HR processes on both a regional and global scale; and 3) pursuing global venues of excellence.

Organisations need to have a better understanding of these drivers and how they influence HRM policy. This would ensure that HRM policy is able to offer standard functions and practices whilst allowing enough room for the customised alignment of these policies between HR functions across the world.


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