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Globalization of business is forcing managers to grapple with complex issues as they seek to gain or sustain a competitive advantage. IHRM has become one of these fields. IHRM broadly covers all issues related to management of people in an international context. This assignment is a learning journal including all the chapters that we studied in our IHRM class.
These eleven journals have been written based on my reflections of the class work done during the International and Comparative Human Resource Management lecture and by reading the text book International Human Resource Management(4 edition) written by Peter J Dowling and Denice E Welch(2008).
INTRODUCTION TO IHRM
On the first day of the IHRM class The lecturer Mr. Chandana Kumara discusses the unit out line and gave a brief about the subject IHRM.(International and comparative human resource Management) Before I came to the class I perceived that the unit would be the same as the HRM (human resource management) unit that we did in Year 2.
While discussing the unit outline of the subject he highlighted many important things to be remembered throughout the semester. Such as he discussed the assessments that we will b assessed and also gave the due dates for each of the assessment. He advised that we should try to meet schedules and not to postpone the assigned work. By this I understood that the lectures, assignments are well planned to a schedule and it's important to follow the schedule if we want to get good grades.
He discussed the way in which he would conduct the week classes such as teaching method which would be more of interactive by involving the class by frequently stopping and asking questions. In my experience this is the best way to go, as when we have an interactive environment it keeps us more attentive.
He discussed the APA referencing method and how to do references for both the class assignments. He strictly advices us to not to give any previous assignments to friends and further stressed that the person who asks for the assignments is not a good friend as it is not helping the friend but rather helping him/her to also copy the same work and the end result would be zero marks for both the students involved in plagiarism. I liked this part very much as because he directly told us not to give assignments this will to some extent limit the students from asking for others assignments.
Most of the times we don't score in assignments is due to we don't understand some of the meanings of the words in the unit outline regarded to the assignment such as learning outcomes and graduate attributes. According to my experience this was very true it is very important to read and understand these points discussed under these headings to finish a good assignment.
Next he discussed the module one of the unit. This was the Introduction to IHRM. He discussed the key terms used in the unit. From this is learnt the terms of IHRM which will b used frequently in the rest of the chapters, which I feel is very important as it was the basics to understand the unit. Factors which make IHRM different from domestic HRM were taught. I learnt that it's always important to have an understanding of current affairs and what's happening around the world. Before the end of the class He also highlighted on etic and emic approach which he will further discuss in detail in the next class.
2. CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
The lesson discussed was on cultural differences At the beginning of the lesson we watched an video on cultural differences between California culture and Czech culture specially the video highlights on the differences between the way they greet and smile. The thing I learnt from this video about greeting is Czech people do a very formal Greeting that is Hello and Goodbye, but the way they greet in California is just Hi or it is much more informal and about smiling is in Czech culture they will smile a t people whom they know and strangers do not smile at each other in this culture unlike culture at California.
From this small video clip I learnt the Pluses and minuses of both cultures, I also understood that no culture is good or bad it's just differences and coming to conclusions that this culture is friendly and this culture is not according to your perceptions isn't good.
Then we discussed Geert Hofsteds cultural value dimensions. The five dimensions of Hofstede are Power Distance, Individualism vs. Collectivism, Femininity Vs Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance and Long-term vs. Short- term orientation. This was a very familiar to me as I learnt these dimensions before in my HRM and culture class as well. We also discussed Confucianism which was latest added dimension to Hofsteds value dimensions.
When discussing the dimension Masculinity and Feminity some of the students had confusion that masculinity means that societies that are dominant by male and feminity means societies that are dominated by female. But after the lesson we understood that certain values are identified as values associated with male such as goal oriented, success and certain societies associated with these values is known as masculine cultures, and certain values are associated with characteristics such as relationship oriented; emphatic, keeping contacts etc are known as feminist cultures. After this explanation I was very clear that its nothing related to Dominance.
Next a student raised a question That Women rights are not recognized by Saudi Arabia; does it have any reference to Masculity or Feminity dimension of the Geert Hoftsteds cultural value dimensions? This opened up a further discussion and he showed a video where an etic approach used to understand the Saudi culture. What I understood from the video was that most Islamic countries this was an issue but it's nothing related to the religion Islam and that forming an opinion just seeing the manifest layer of a society can mislead us with the wrong information.
The lecturer further discussed this is a subject to study with confusion, and within the confusion have to understand the background of it. I learnt that when answering the questions we have to explain to the extent that any culture and limitation of these dimension for a rich content of answer. I further believe that I can apply this theoretical knowledge i gained from this chapter to its maximum in future in workplace when dealing with people of different cultures.
3. THE ORGANISATIONAL CONTEXT
Today's lesson was the organizational context before discussing the lesson we did 2 case studies in groups. The long March case study and the staffing oil company case study. When doing Long March case study most of the students found it very easy as the case study was short and it was easy to find the answer and interrelate it to the theories we learnt in class. Further after doing the case study the lecturer discussed the case answers in class by giving various examples. From this I learnt that when we work in groups in solving a problem is very effective as it is a good method to share ideas and learn from each other.
The 2nd case study (staffing oil company case study) was a bit long case study as we were taking too long to read and find the answers for the case questions our lecturer gave us a good way to attempt case studies. Usually we try to highlight the things which we find important and again come back to the highlighted points to search for the answer but our lecturer advised instead of highlighting and again coming back to read the highlighted points it's wise to write the keywords separately which u find important shortly. This method was very helpful and is less time consuming. And he also told to finish the answers for this case study next week and each group can submit the answers which will count for the class participation marks.
As today's topic was the organizational context, the objectives of the lesson were to understand how to differentiate culture and deal with these cultural frameworks and to understand and also know that any one framework doesn't help to understand culture. Structural responses to international growth that is how the organization structure would have to be made in order to respond to cultural as well as other factors. Also control and coordination mechanisms including cultural control in certain departments will be very high but other maybe not, based on the creative aspect, innovativeness these factors have to be considered. We should also have a clear understanding if an organization is having more control whether the structure would support and if not what other mechanisms can be used. Management demand of international growth we learnt important factors such as:
Host country culture and workplace environment: If the parent company culture is very different from the host country, localization would be advisable since the workers would have difficulty in adapting to a totally different culture. For example if collectivism is practiced in the host country (e.g. China) encouraging individual performance and individual improvement might not be accepted.
Mode of operation: When it is a wholly owned subsidiary there is more opportunity to standardize than in an international joint venture.
Size and maturity of the firm: The importance of standardization increases as the firm becomes larger and more mature. We further learnt the path to global success that is why exactly we need to change the organizations structure.
4. HRM IN THE HOST COUNTRY CONTEXT
Today is the day the team contracts were due. And the lesson to be covered was HRM in the host country context. Before the lesson he discussed how participation marks would be awarded. And he also told us that each week he would be emailing some questions and we have to b ready with the answers for the next class and he will b randomly selecting a student and questioning. And if we could give the appropriate and good answer we would be getting participation marks.
This unit mainly focused on issues held in the host country when establishing a subsidiary. Some of the issues that were given more concentration in the lecture were expatriation, subsidiary issues, mode of operations and work practices.
It was further discussed about standardization and localization. Standardize means the decision that you have to make in the host country whereas localize refers to motivate host country managers to have locally developed practices.
And he took the example of HSBC. Where they are more trying to standardize there operations this can be easily understood when we visit any HSBC office located in Sri Lanka. The way they greet and welcome people are to maintain their corporate culture, objectives and policies.
Localization and standardization both have its plusses and minuses. The decision to standardize or not is a key decision that has to be made by any multinational based on the conclusion which method would be more beneficial and successful for the organization and subsidiary.
In my view this lesson would help me in the decision of localizing or standardizing an organisation in future and this knowledge will help me to structure an organisation in a most beneficial method in keeping the real world examples discussed in class in mind.
And the rest of the headings such as developing, retrenching and retaining staff areas were asked to read at home and bring any questions to the class next week to discuss.
5. SUSTAINING INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS OPERATIONS / STAFFING
Today almost everyone was nervous as today he was going to randomly select students and ask questions for participation marks. I was nervous too. But we were quite comfortable when he came and started today's topic which was sustaining business operations and staffing methods. In this chapter I learnt that there are 4 main staffing approaches and each of the approach has its advantages and disadvantages. They include ethnocentric approach, polycentric approach, geocentric approach and regeocentric approach
Ethnocentric approach is where few foreign subsidiaries have autonomy and strategic decisions are made at headquarters. (Dowling & Welch, 2008) From this approach the key points I learnt is that having an ethnocentric approach doesn't mean that they do not employ HCN's but rather decision making and key functions are held and operated by the PCN's and that it will be given less authority to subsidiary. Polycentric approach is where each subsidiary is a distinct national entity with some decision making autonomy. (Dowling & Welch, 2008) From this approach I learnt that decision making ability is very much higher than the subsidiary which has adopted an ethnocentric approach. Geocentric approach is a global approach and it included worldwide integration. From this approach I learnt that staffs are selected based on their skill and competences rather than nationalities. Regeocentric approach is staff moving from specific region rather than globally.
Further the lecturer discussed the reasons for international assignments. This included 3 main points, position filling, management development, and organizational development. Discussed the various types of international assignments short, extended and long term assignments. And non standard forms such as commuter, rotational, contractual and virtual assignments.
He further discussed what wholes vs. part theory were and as very limited information was given on slides he asked us to read the text book. From this our lecturer checked whether we are able to grab the information from textbook with the exact meaning of it. From that I learnt that it's important to read the textbook rather than fully relying on the slides. Finally just before winding up he asked questions randomly.
6. RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION
At the beginning of the class our lecturer asked whether we had any questions to clarify about the first assignment and he answered some of the questions raised by the students, also said that he will be finishing the lesson little early in order to show us some of the sample assignments and journals which was done by some past students.
Today the topic discussed was recruitment and Selection. Recruitment and Selection are two important function of HRM department of any organization. It is vital to the HR managers to ensure that they have the right number of people at the right place at the right time. (Stone. 2005) This lesson helped me to identify additional requirements that have to be taken into account when concerned with IHRM.
During this topic the area which captured my attention was about Global Manager. He further asked the question what the difference between global mindset and global manager was, and the benefits of having a pool of global managers in an organization. These questions helped me to think more out of the box and get more involved in the lesson.
I learnt that by having a pool of global MNE will be having a lot of experience in lot of flexibility in starting up operations in other countries, as well as the selection of the global manager from this pool will b easier from this pool so MNEs will love to have larger pool of Global managers because it helps them in foreign assignments. Also the chances of a global manager who have already reached the status of global manager adjusting to other culture are far greater than other persons.
He further discussed and example Where MNE is starting an operation where specialized machineries are used, in foreign country where the main staffing approach may be polycentric approach but they will be extending their technical knowledge to the subsidiary. When you install the machinery but before commissioning the machinery the person who comes to impart the knowledge and skill of operating it will be the expatriates. Through this example I learnt that expatriates can be used as trainers under polycentric staffing approach.
These questions to stimulate the discussions will help me to make my answers powerful by quoting relevant examples. And I believe that this topic will be very helpful to me when I enter the work place environment. As well as if I decide to do a job in abroad, these aspects would help me further to develop my career.
He further discussed how international assignments can be a form of job rotation and how this can be a management decision tool. Also discussed who is a home based manager and an internationally mobile manager.
7. TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
Our lecturer began the lesson by a question "Whether there is any difference between training and development, and he asked us to give a definition for them. By this discussion I understood that training is a key function of HRM to improve the skills of an employee, hence aiding them to perform task better in the future. Whereas development of employees is task done to maintain and use the skills that were learnt during training, I also understood that training is a part of development. Up until now I thought that training and development were quite the same and through this discussion I learnt that just because a person is trained doesn't mean it will develop the individual.
Providing pre-departure training is a very important in international assignments. When we are plan to work on an international assignment in a country like Japan. Pre-departure training in English language, the country's business etiquettes and customs becomes very important. I also understood that the length of the pre departure training would depend on the length of stay of the expatriate and the position held by the expatriate. Pre-departure training would include cultural awareness programs, preliminary visits, language training, and practical assistance.
Cultural awareness programs are designed to know more about the parent country culture and host country culture doing business, to understand their work practices and these awareness programs are important to build and understand the work mentality of the both countries. Preliminary visits length may vary depending on the complexity of the host country culture, usually the length of these visits are 1 week period. These visits are especially important when doing business in complex cultures like China because it is very difficult to understand these cultures without practically experiencing it. Practical assistance includes support given by the organization to relocate and help the expatriate to settle down in the host country.
Today, after the lesson, I understood the significance of training and development and from the knowledge I have gained from the topic I would summarize that Training and Development helps in optimizing the utilization of human resource that further helps the employee to achieve the organizational goals as well as their individual goals. This topic can be crucial for me in future in the workplace environment in developing training and development programmes as well as it can be helpful for me personally to get trained and developed for a specific task to suit into the job more perfectly and as a result to do an more effective and efficient job.
8. PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT
The lecturer started by asking a question whether there is any differences between performance appraisal and performance management evaluation? At the time I thought that there is no differences between the two but now after the discussion in class and by lecturers comments understood that there is a difference between these two methods, and I understood that performance appraisal and performance management evaluation can be interchangeably used but performance appraisal management is covering the broader score.
After the training and development process in my view it is important to follow up by an effective performance management process. I understood that further though most of the organizations are established for the objective of gaining profits some of the organizations may be established for a different purpose. Through this understanding, my assumptions and perceptions have changed and I learnt that performance evaluations cannot be measured by seeing the profit factor alone but we have to consider other factors too.
Furthermore the MNE performance evaluations will depend on these factors, the volatility of the global environment, separation of time and distance between subsidiary and parent company and level of maturity of subsidiary all have effects on the performance of the subsidiary.
Usually performance appraisal is influenced by both the extrinsic and intrinsic motivation of employees and their attitude towards the company. Typically, employees are appraised by their immediate superiors and one of the most important motivators for performance appraisal is constructive feedback given on a continuous basis.
Further the differences between the performance appraisal of expatriates and non expatriates was discussed and I learnt that appraisal concerns related to non expatriates have been useful to remind us that there are many dimensions to international business and things we need to keep in mind when designing an effective performance appraisal system.
In today's lesson I learnt the importance of performance management, how the appraisal should be done, the difference between performance appraisals and performance evaluation management and further this chapter helped me to understand the complexities regarding performance evaluation in IHRM.
9. RE-ENTRY AND CAREER ISSUES
Re-entry into to their home country is an exclusive function of HRM. This can be also called as repatriation. One of the major phases which a person will go through at this time is cultural shock. Cultural shock is simply a common way to describe the confusing and nervous feelings a person may have after leaving a familiar place to a different culture.
The repatriation process comprises of four phases which are preparation, physical relocation, transition and readjustment. In each of these stages it is important that the organization provides support to its repatriate and his family. Such assistance would also help to minimize re-entry shock.
The job related factors include career anxiety, inability to adjust to the new work environment, difficulty in coping with new role demands and loss of status and pay received during the stay abroad. Career anxiety occurs because many repatriates expect to receive promotion after they go back to their home country, but the company is unable to do so as there are no vacancies. difficulty in adjusting into the work environment and procedures of the home country, as he/she is accustomed to the work place of the foreign subsidiary he worked for
Social factors includes the effect on partners career , effects children as they have to get accustomed to the change of surroundings, find new friends and go to a different school
So overall from this lesson I learnt that as to minimize the hindrance of repatriates to suffer from re-entry shock we should give more importance to minimize the job related and social factors which lead to the re-entry shock. Helping them to adjust to home country and work environment is essential as these repatriates can be a great asset for an organization. And also I learnt that it's vital for an organization to use the knowledge of the repatriate in carrying out their operations as this knowledge and experience of the repatriate in international assignments can bring lot of benefits to an organization.
Today's topic was about compensation. And before the lesson he reminded us the date of the final exam and advised us to be prepared for it. And before the lesson, he highlighted the important things we should remind when answering the final exam questions, how to formulate an answer and he said the first discipline to follow is to stop on time. He further highlighted that we lose marks not because that we don't know but as we can't present the answer well. He took a sample question as well and showed how to answer and approach to the question. This really helped me a lot. One thing I love about the lecture is he does everything very much planned and works his best to give the maximum within the 4hrs of the lecture. This helps us to learn to be on schedule and get the maximum knowledge about a particular topic.
He began the lesson with a very interesting quote "this topic is very interesting as a professional and very boring as a student". First discussed compensation and benefit in Sri Lankan context such as terms CCPI (Colombo consumer price index) is determined by central bank per week. Customs of Sri Lanka may not be same with India. In order to apply the most current COM. How is the daily wage calculated? Why is it important to calculate daily wage? The lecturer emphasized that these small details are important when it comes to compensation because you are going to pay lesser or pay more either way it's detrimental.
Next he tested our knowledge on Sri Lankan employment law. I learnt that the law governing Sri Lankan employment was called the shop and office employees act. I also understood that though I am a Maldivian understanding the employment law of Sri Lanka as well as other countries as well is equally important when regarding to compensation. And this was one area that I need to focus on.
Compensation of expatriates is done either according to the Going Rate Approach or Balance Sheet Approach. The going rate approach suggests that expatriates should be compensated based on local market rates, and the base pay and benefits could supplemented by additional payment for low-paying countries. This method brings parity with local nationals and is a comparatively simple method. But as a down side it would bring variation between assignments to same employee and variation between expatriates of same nationality in different countries, which would eventually lead to high competition to get assignments in high paying countries.
There were many factors that can directly affect for the expatriate compensation, were asked to read more and understand and come up with any questions regarding this topic by next week.
11. BUSINESS ETIQUETTE AND SOCIAL CUSTOMS
In the first half of the class he gave the marked assignments to each group and said to go through the assignment and to come up with any doubts and clarifications regarding the marks and the feedback comments. In fact one by one he went to each group and discussed the doubts and explained further why they haven't scored in a particular area.
He further highlighted that he have marked our assignments in two major ways that is analytically and synthetically. And the main errors that most of us did were not having a consistent flow in the report and he told having a proof read of the whole report by one or more persons from the group in order to minimise this error. He further advised professionalism is very important when we deliver any formal reports.
Second half of the class he taught us business etiquettes and social customs which was the topic of the day. Business etiquettes are proper behaviours that are accepted in social and business situations. It includes learning of cultural variations in making introductions, exchanging business cards, recognizing positions and status, intercultural communication, dinning practices, tipping etiquettes, giving gifts and travelling. I learnt that what's proper behaviour to one nation may not be proper in another nation. The interesting part of it is when you know the cultural variations you can behave properly. Customs are the socially accepted behaviours. This includes greetings, verbal expressions, male/female relationships, dress and appearance, use of humour, belief in superstition, special foods and consumption of taboos.
We further discussed what a margin for error is, and we learnt that if we leave a margin for error those the episodes become easier and simple. E.g. - if a US person is doing business with
Showed video clips, the first video was about how personal space distance is kept. From this video I learnt if you are from Mexico to be close to someone during business discussions can be a normal thing but for other cultures where distance matters, it may be offensive thing to do.
Second video was a video that he has already shown when doing the lesson cultural differences.
Third video was an interesting video as it showed the differences between the east and west cultures in a funny manner. It was a video which mainly compared the two cultures taking different aspects such as how they read, swim, behave in gym etc. From this video I learnt that for west people minding your own business, being objective and being disciplined are important behaviours.
From this chapter I learnt that the importance of learning about business etiquettes and customs when doing business, as at the inception it is the humans who inter face, so at this point of time it can be the foundation for fruitful business. This impacts how well you establish a business.
In conclusion I would like to mention that this study of IHRM has given me the opportunity to think beyond the boundaries of domestic HRM, into understand the practical issues when operating in a global context. It has been evident that the role played by the HR manager in an MNE is a task which requires skills and knowledge to handle employees from different cultures and achieve organisation objectives whilst helping the organisation to make profits. These very complexities bring out the beauty of the job of an International Human Resource Manager.