The Development of Human Resource Management Across Nations
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The Development of Human Resource Management Across Nations

Unity and Diversity

Edited by Bruce E. Kaufman

This volume contains country studies of the historical development of human resource management (HRM) in seventeen different nations. The nations span all regions of the world and each chapter is written by a national expert. Primary attention is given to HRM developments in industry, but university research and teaching are also covered. Human resource management is defined broadly to include industrial relations and each chapter places the historical development of HRM in a broad political, social, and economic context.
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Chapter 11: The evolution of human resource management in Italy: a historical-institutional perspective

Giovanni Costa and Arnaldo Camuffo


HRM in Italy largely mirrors the dualistic and fragmented structure of its economy. On the one hand, there is a group of relatively large multinational companies, with headquarters in Italy (Fiat, Luxottica, Pirelli, ENI, Benetton, Unicredit, Banca Intesa Sanpaolo, etc.) whose HR architecture is aligned with the practices and approaches of the other leading companies around the world. For these companies, HRM is strategic (Wright and Snell 2005), though still strongly contingent on the Italian historical heritage, corporate governance structures and prevalent industry focus. There is a second group of medium sized companies, mostly operating internationally in mature and competitive industries, where HRM is instrumental to pursuing strategies prevalently based on efficiency and flexibility. In this case, the applied HR practices are far from the “high performance” practices highlighted by the mainstream literature (Pfeffer, 2005), even though they may be consistent with the business models and often contribute to organizational performance. Finally, there is the articulated world of the Italian small firms, often embedded in industrial districts, where HRM has assumed, over time, distinctive and peculiar forms that, though seeming pre-modern at first sight, are, in some respects, innovative. Because of the recent global crisis, most of the firms have suffered and struggled to survive, so that most HR activities have been recently focused on corporate restructuring and on initiatives geared towards efficiency improvement (Boldizzoni and Quaratino, 2011).

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