Toward an Understanding of the Influences on HR Policies of Multinational Firms

Topic(s): strategic HR

Topic: Strategic HR
Publication: British Journal of Management
Article: Similarity, isomorphism or duality? Recent survey evidence on human resource management policies of multinational corporations.
Author: C. Brewster, G. Wood, M. Brookes
Featured by: Benjamin Granger

Since multinational organizations are becoming more and more common, numerous researchers have set out to understand how multinational corporations set up organization-wide policies. In order to better understand how such policies are determined, Brewster, Wood, and Brookes (2008) surveyed both public and private organizations in over 22 European countries.

Not surprisingly, Brewster and colleagues found that company HR policies were largely determined by  tradeoffs and compromises.  Moreover, there did not seem to be global norms for HR practices. This implies that host regions and/or countries do indeed influence the HR practices and policies of multinational organizations that originate in other countries.

This is not surprising, because we can easily imagine that certain laws and business norms must be  abided by in certain regions of the world in order for an organization to operate (e.g., having to pay employees the minimum wage in the US). Overall, Brewster and colleagues suggest that HR practices are complexly determined by both global business norms as well as local (certain region) norms.

In response to these findings, you may have said to yourself, “Well, no duh. Company policies always have multiple determinants.”  And you would be absolutely right! But, armed with this knowledge, organizational leaders as well as their employees can be better prepared to make compromises when in the international arena. Just because things are done one way in the U.S. doesn’t mean that’s how they’ll be done somewhere else.

Brewster, C., Wood, G., & Brookes, M. (2008). Similarity, isomorphism or duality? Recent survey evidence on human resource management policies of multinational corporations. British Journal of Management, 19, 320-342.