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 23: European Human Resource Management: A Contextualised Stakeholder Perspective

Wolfgang Mayrhofer, Paul Sparrow and Chris Brewster


Wolfgang Mayrhofer, Paul Sparrow and Chris Brewster THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTEXT FOR HRM Human Resource Management (HRM) is always HRM in context. How HRM works, what it covers, what is regarded as good HRM, who is an important player in HRM, what role legal regulations and cultural values play, etc. – all this depends heavily on the respective context. Context in this sense includes the internal context of organisations, e.g. organisational size, structure, demography, and strategy, as well as the external context. The latter covers, for example, national culture and values; elements of the institutional environment such as legal regulations, the respective industry and the type of economy; economic factors such as amount and speed of economic growth, degree of foreign direct investment in the respective country and structure of the industries prominent in the country; and societal characteristics such as population structure and growth/decline, educational system and level, and political system (Mayrhofer et al., 2011). Discussing European approaches to HRM inevitably has to address matters of context because, as we argue in this chapter, European HRM unfolds in a unique context, conceptually has developed some unique characteristics, in particular compared to more universalist assumptions of other HRM approaches as prevalent in North America or in the Far East, and shows some unique patterns at the level of policies and practices which, at the same time, reflect the conceptual specifics and the internal variety of European HRM. In a first step, we further characterise the contextual uniqueness of Europe relevant for...

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