Handbook of Research on Comparative Human Resource Management
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Handbook of Research on Comparative Human Resource Management

Edited by Chris Brewster and Wolfgang Mayrhofer

This unique and path-breaking Handbook explores the issue of comparative Human Resource Management (HRM) and challenges the notion that there can be a ‘one best way’ to manage HRM.
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Chapter 3: Cultural Perspectives on Comparative HRM

B. Sebastian Reiche, Yih-teen Lee and Javier Quintanilla


B. Sebastian Reiche, Yih-teen Lee and Javier Quintanilla Over the past few decades, increased globalisation of business transactions, the emergence of new markets such as the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as well as more intense competition among organisations at the domestic and international level alike have been associated with an increased interest in and need for comparative human resource management (HRM) studies (Budhwar & Sparrow, 2002a). As a result, a growing number of conceptual (Aycan, 2005; Edwards & Kuruvilla, 2005) and empirical studies (Bae et al., 1998; Budhwar & Sparrow, 2002b; Easterby-Smith et al., 1995) have addressed the configuration of HRM in different national contexts. The literature has developed different frameworks to analyse and explain how historical evolution, social institutions and different national cultures can influence firm behaviour in general and HRM in particular. One line of inquiry builds on path dependency arguments and claims that a firm’s historical development shapes its extant organisational features such as the configuration of assets and capabilities, the dispersal of responsibilities, the prevailing management style and organisational values (Bartlett & Ghoshal, 1998). This administrative heritage leads an organisation to adopt specific structures and behaviours. A second strand of literature takes an institutional perspective and investigates the social and institutional determinants that underlie the logic of organising business enterprises and their competitive behaviour in different national contexts. A systematic emphasis for understanding the permanent interaction between firms and markets, on the one hand, and other socio-economic institutions, on the other, has been conceptualised in terms of...

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