Undertake research to examine current trends and emerging issues within the field of International Human Resource Management (IHRM). What are some contrasting and recent frameworks, models and perspectives applied within the field of IHRM?
The meaning of International Human Resource Management (IHRM) becomes more and more important in the last few years. The first time the term IHRM was used was in 1990, around the same time period ‘globalisation’ began. Initially the main function of IHRM was the organisation and management of expatriates (Festing, et al., 2013, p. 161). In 2012 the foreign affiliates of Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) of the United Nations had reached 69 million workers (Dowling, et al., 2013, p. viii). Due to this fact it becomes clear the tremendous challenge IHRM faces in our time.
Furthermore the world is getting more uniform and standardised because of the globalisation. With the impact of technical, commercial and cultural development, companies must rise to new challenges and a different way of thinking (Durham & Kellner, 2006, p. 659). If we put all the different aspects together we can define IHRM as examining the HRM issues, problems, strategies, policies and practices which firms pursue in relation to the internationalisation of their business (Brewster, et al., 2011, p. 10). On the basis of current research, this essay will investigate trends and emerging issues in the field of IHRM.
In the first wide field of global assignments and careers there have been changes in recent years due to the development of technology and worldwide integration. As organisations are increasingly affected by the forces of globalisation and the competition between the different companies, the prerequisites for employees are increasing as well. Due to these facts, the work life balance (WLB) has been subject to increasing investigation and has led to a significant emerging issue for all people – especially international business travellers (Festing, et al., 2013). As a consequence, WLB is receiving attention in the IHRM field. WLB consists of two different concepts: achievement and enjoyment. You cannot get the full value from life if you are only concentrated on one concept (WorkLifeBalance, 2014). One’s daily focus on achievement and enjoyment is based in all four life quadrants: work, family, friends and self WLB. WLB is already a significant topic for HRM, however it is even more important for frequent travellers. Due to this fact, in the field of IHRM, work life balance has been investigated by Iris Kollinger-Santer and Iris C. Fischlmayr (2013).
They focused on the difference between female and male international travellers and their WLB, finding that the different stressors related to travelling have a variable intensity according to gender. For instance, the lack of time for social contact or leisure activities is a stronger stress factor for women than for men. The family situation in particular is an important influence on each gender, with women missing their family more than men. Coping strategies also vary according to gender (Kollinger-Santer & Fischlmayr). Beauregard and Henry (2009) bring different concepts to the issue of WLB. These authors try to make a link between work life balance practices and organisational performance. Therefore they discuss the differing importance of factors according to national context, job level, and managerial support and come to the conclusion that WLB practices are often combined with high organisational performance (Beauregards & Henry).
Another emerging challenge beside WLB is the different types of global assignments. In recent years, working abroad as an expatriate to get international experience and to develop global skills was considered an important skill. Organisations openly promoted this process. They wanted to give their employees work experience and transcend national boundaries. However, employees are often unwilling to work abroad or those who are willing to work abroad are leaving their international assignments early or quitting their organisations once they repatriate because of the positive effects, such as promotions and salary advancement.
Another aspect that favours this situation is to compensate for the out-of-sight, out-ofmind problem that occurs when employees are physically away from their home country’s organisation (Shaffer, et al.). Due to this fact a new emerging issue is taking place within IHRM. Organisations are looking for global work alternatives for their employees to gain global work experience without losing the employee afterwards. Besides the well-known kinds of work experience, such as corporate expatriation or self-initiated expatriation, some new ways to achieve global work experience are now offered to employees. Shaffer et al. (2012) sums up the existing ways to achieve international work experience and subdivided them along the three dimensions; physical mobility, cognitive flexibility, and nonwork disruptions.
Based on this knowledge, the authors interpret the major findings from their review and develop a taxonomy of these experiences as a theoretical framework for analysing past studies. They point out that all of the global work experiences were associated with different personal and nonwork demands especially, stress and family issues. However, Shaffer et al. claim that the specific stress factor varied by the different types of global work experience. Finally, they conclude that the real challenge is not the different types of global work, but is the combination of physically moving to a foreign country with the family and learning to adapt to a new culture that creates unique family demands associated with expatriate assignments (Shaffer, et al.).
In addition to the new methods to get global work experience, Vaiman and Haslberger (2013) focus on the importance of self-initiated expatriations and take a closer look at foreign executives in local organisations (FELOs). A FELO is a rare international crosscultural management phenomenon. To find the differences between an expatriate assignment and a FELO, one must take a deeper look at the subsidiaries of multinational organisations (FELO Research, 2014). Vaiman and Haslberger derive four different types of FELOs and various types of localised FELOs as well as typologies and organisation forms. Finally they examine global careers outside of traditional, company-backed expatriate assignments, and highlight the fact that there is a rising number of foreign executives appointed in recent years (Vaiman & Haslberger).
Global talent management (GTM) is a rapidly growing field within IHRM. GTM includes the connection between the importance of talent management and success in global business. In general the aim of talent management is the identification of well qualified employees in a global context and placing those people in key positions where they have the potential to impact the competitive advantage of the organisation (Scullion & Collings, 2011, pp. 3-4). GTM is still an emerging field with debates regarding many aspects of its relevance IHRM (Festing, et al., 2013). For instance, Schuler et al. (2012) focus on various challenges in the area of GTM like dealing with talent shortages, talent surpluses, locating and relocating talent, and compensation levels of talent.
They present strategic opportunities and their implications for organisations in regards to these challenges, concluding that organisational need must be linked to the direction of organisational strategy and talent strategy in particular (Schuler, et al.). Clearly there is a wide area of unspecified topics in the field of GTM. In countries such as Germany, China or India, research on this subject is particularly limited, thus there has been much debate over the continuing significance of talent management in the recent years. There are two different views of the importance and the impact of talent management (Festing, et al., 2013) According to Walk et al. (2013), talent is the most consistent and frequent factor in business success within a global context.
For this reason, organisations compete across borders to get the most talented employees. The authors discovered that from the standpoint of an organisation, cross-cultural students are the most valuable, thus they tend to recruit their future employees from this group. Walk et al. also assess work expectations across diverse cultural backgrounds and concluded that differences in expectation are less between Chinese, Indian, and German students than one might suspect (Cf. Walk, et al.). Ewerlin’s (2013) research on GTM focusses on the influence of talent management program’s attractiveness on an employer.
Due to the fact that talented individuals are rare, organisations need to take care that they can position themselves as attractive employers in order to secure the best employees. Talented employees are able to pick and choose between several attractive job offers, therefore they are looking for an additional factors such as good talent management programs. Ewerlin could not confirm that there is a direct relationship between employer attractiveness and their GTM program, however she indicates that these programs should be designed for culturally differences and that personality also plays an important role in shaping the needs of individual employees (Ewerlin).
If you compare the current trends and emerging issues of IHRM to the development of other departments within an organisation, especially due to the influence of other areas, there is constant change in IHRM. Additionally to the constant changes IHRM have made, there are a lot of increasing factors to the global market. Several aspects are crucial in the two huge fields of global assignments and careers and global work experience. In the first field there are different facts like work life balance and global work experience. The second area includes the current topics such as GTM programs and the connection to the attractiveness to an employer. Finally there are a lot of new areas of investigation that need to be explored and due to the fact of technical progress and the increasing globalisation it is important to deal with new challenges in order to stay competitive in the international market.
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