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Edited by Günter K. Stahl and Ingmar Björkman
Chapter 5: Comparing HRM Policies and Practices Across Geographical Borders
Chris Brewster Comparative Human Resource Management can be distinguished from international human resource management (Boxall, 1995; Harris, Brewster & Sparrow, 2003). International human resource management (IHRM) is concerned with the way that organizations that operate across national borders manage their employees, and increasingly the term is applied to all their employees and not just those who are working internationally (Sparrow, Brewster & Harris, 2004). This is a signiﬁcantly more complex task than managing human resources in one country (Dowling, 1988), given the dual requirements of systematizing their management processes (global integration) and remaining aware of the diﬀerences between countries (local responsiveness), which mean that it is not possible, or rational, to manage people in exactly the same way in diﬀerent circumstances (Ashkenas et al., 1995; Hamal & Prahalad, 1985; Yip, 1995). Comparative human resource management is about understanding and explaining what diﬀerences exist between countries in the way that human resources are managed. Whereas most of the rest of this book is concerned with IHRM, this chapter focuses on comparative human resource management. Comparison is the method used in social sciences to replace the experiment in the natural sciences. Most studies of HRM take place within one country and their ﬁndings relate to that country even if they are often assumed to be universally applicable. International comparisons are not only a good way of checking our assumptions about the systems and practices that operate in HRM, they are also a valuable way of checking our basic assumptions about the...
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