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 17: International Perspectives on Diversity and Equal Treatment Policies and Practices

Alain Klarsfeld, Gwendolyn M. Combs, Lourdes Susaeta and María Belizón


1 Alain Klarsfeld, Gwendolyn M. Combs, Lourdes Susaeta and María Belizón Globalisation has brought many changes to the way organisations and societies attempt to address human resource management issues (Brewster, 2007; Sparrow, 2007). Flexibility in how work is accomplished and organisations are arranged requires permeable boundaries and work structures (Mor-Barak, 2005). Organisation–environment theories are often called on to explain why organisations adopt particular routines, policies and procedures. New institutional theory emphasises the regulatory constraints on organisational action embedded in organisational fields (Kostova et al., 2008). Regulative adoption, similar to the ‘conformance to regulations’ category (Sharma, 2000), involves adopting environmental practices as sanctioned by environmental regulations. Additionally, research on the ambiguities inherent in equal opportunity (EO) laws, and the weak structures for implementation, examines the adoption and diffusion of programmes, policies and procedures across organisations in response to anti-discrimination legislation. These studies propose that the influences of environments (country of operation) on the adoption of organisational EO policies and programmes may institutionalise a set of legitimate practices, even when these practices have limited influence on actual inequality results (Edelman, 1992; Dobbin & Sutton, 1998). The overarching objective of EO policies is to guarantee equal access to employment opportunities by eliminating disparate treatment based on an individual’s social group identity, such as their sex, race, age or disability. However, there is considerable variation in the nature and scope of EO policies across countries (Aslund & Skans, 2010). Such country variations should shape organisational perspectives in determining when and what type of...

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