Ananthram And Chan Challenges And Strategies For Global Human Resource

Topics: Human resource management, Cross-cultural communication, Culture Pages: 11 (10414 words) Published: July 23, 2015
European Management Journal (2013) xxx, xxx– xxx

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Challenges and strategies for global human resource
executives: Perspectives from Canada and the United
Subramaniam Ananthram


, Christopher Chan



School of Management, Curtin Business School, Curtin University, Kent Street, Bentley, Western Australia 6102, Australia School of Human Resource Management, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3

Honorary Research Fellow, Australian Catholic University, Faculty of Business, North Sydney Campus (MacKillop), Level 4, 21 Berry Street, 8-20 Napier Street, North Sydney, New South Wales 2060, Australia b

Available online
Human resource;

Summary This article examines the pressing challenges faced by global human resource executives and the strategies that are used to address those challenges at the macro, meso and micro levels. Semi-structured interviews are conducted with 26 Canadian and American HR executives. The challenges include the degree of standardization of HR, foreign industrial relations, time zones, cross cultural differences and communication, expatriatesÕ adjustments, inflexibility, and work family balance. To deal with those challenges, the executives encourage stronger partnerships with the subsidiaries, diversity in recruitment, paying closer attention to changes in labor laws, cross cultural training and development, leadership development, and cultural sensitivity. ª 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Globalization poses various challenges for human resource
(HR) executives. At the macro (or organizational) level,
some businesses still struggle with the extent to which human resource management (HRM) policies and practices are standardized while respecting local customs, traditions
and needs (Chen & Eldridge, 2010; Tregaskis, Heraty, & Morley, 2001). Furthermore, global HR executives will have to be cognizant of the foreign employment laws and grapple
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 8 9266 1312; fax: +61 8 9266 7897.
E-mail address: (S. Ananthram).

with managing stakeholdersÕ interests on the domestic and
global platforms (Forstenlechner, 2010b; OÕSullivan, 2010;
Posthuma, Roehling, & Campion, 2006). Extending the work
of Bartlett and Ghoshal (1989) which investigates the influence of headquarter on its subsidiaries, Rosenzweig and Nohria (1994) find that HRM practices reflect local practices more closely when the subsidiary is founded by acquisition,

when there is heavy dependence on local resources, lesser
presence of expatriates, and weaker communication between the two organizations. At the meso (or group) level, a lack of knowledge about cross cultural business etiquettes may result in embarrassing and costly cultural faux pas

(Shapiro, Ozanne, & Saatcioglu, 2008). At the micro (or individual) level, there are numerous issues pertaining to the

0263-2373/$ - see front matter ª 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Please cite this article in press as: Ananthram, S., & Chan, C., Challenges and strategies for global human resource executives: Perspectives from Canada and the United States, European Management Journal (2013),


S. Ananthram, C. Chan

expatriates and host country nationals. For example, the
lack of language skills can present a communication challenge for the expatriates and host country nationals (Forster, 2000; Selmer, 2006). Expatriates who have a poor cultural fit may also experience adjustment difficulties (Selmer, 1999). In order to respond to these challenges, global HR executives are compelled to search for strategies and practices that will render their organizations successful. At the macro level,...

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