Both practitioners and researchers maintain the grapple with understanding the global phenomena and the resulting impact on the entire human resource management system. Previously, researchers’ maintained research programmer utilizing Western- style theories and methods, which were predominantly quantitative, to explore phenomena that may now be inappropriate. These methods and theories frequently do not capture the ‘fabric’ of global phenomena that include complex interactions of culture, institutions, societal norms and government regulations, among a few concerns.
The mixed methods approach is proposed to add the ‘fabric’ required, illustrating the depth and flexibility needed to explore the GERM issues. Mixed methods are a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches that maintain methodological rigor as well as measures for reliability and validity. This paper explores the current methods, the reasons for their lack of success in portraying the depth of the phenomena and why the mixed methods approach appears to be a superior method for research for the GERM field. Keywords Strategic global human resource management; globalization; mix-method research; global research issues.
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In industries such as semiconductors, automobiles, commercial aircraft, telecommunications, computers and consumer electronics, it is impossible to sun. ‘vive and not scan the world for competitors, customers, human resources, suppliers and technology (Greenest et al. , 1998). In this environment, the global human resource management becomes more important to the success of the firm, while at the same time becoming more complicated and difficult to administer (Grant, 1 996; Kampuchea, 1997; Boxful and Purcell, 2000; Harvey and Novice, 2003). East research confirms that the human resources are a liable component for an organization attempting to develop a strategic competitive advantage (Wright et al. , 1 994; Lepta and Snell, 1999). When human resources are employed strategically, firms compete more effectively in this new dynamic marketplace, especially when ‘the productivity of superior resources depends upon the nature of their employment and the skill with which a strategy based on resource superiority is implemented’ (Apteral, 1993: 186).
Yet, research into global human resource management is increasingly difficult to pursue, and complicated, as culture and its alignment tit strategy may be very difficult to research through strictly quantitative methods. It would appear that organizations must develop a cadre of managers who have a global mindset as a way of thinking within the global marketplace (Keyed and Meijer, 1999; Paul, 2000; Begley and Boyd, 2003). These managers must develop a pluralistic management perspective that encourages and maintains multiple perspectives in order to solve complex global problems (Acquire, 1997; Harvey et al. 1 999; Reynolds, 1997). Two- thirds of the world’s Coos view the priorities within the intense change of the ewe global market place as: foreign competition as a key factor in their firm’s future business SUccess, employment and revenues to be generated increasingly outside their firm’s home country, and the effective management of human resources as critical to global success (Humpback et al. , 1989). This papers focus is to develop a process for conceptualizing GERM utilizing a mixed-method research approach. First, the new global hypersensitive market conditions and the problems for GERM will be explored.
Second, previous types of research methods and their failure to provide adequate insight in GERM are examined. Then an examination/justification of a mixed-method approach is considered as being a superior means for researching GERM issues in the twenty-first century. Next, an GERM and a mixed-method programmer to assist in the development of a global human resource system are suggested. Finally, barriers to the development of a GERM programmer are examined to illustrate the types of research that will be needed utilizing the mixed-method approach.
The underlying foundation of the paper is that, given the evolution of human resource management into a global network (e. G. GERM), new problems will confront human resource managers and, therefore, new research methods will be necessary. The evolution of a human resource management perspective Domestic HRS is typically defined as a broad typology that covers three areas: 1) work relations (I. E. The way work is organized, the division of labor and the deployment of workers around tech analogies and production processes); 2) employment relations (I. . The arrangements governing such aspects of employment as recruitment, training promotion, job tenure and the reward of employees); and 3) industrial relations (I. E. He representational aspirations of employees and the ‘voice systems’ that may exist, 24 The International Journal of Human Resource Management such as work consultation, employee involvement practices, work councils and collective bargaining) (Gospel, 1992). Domestic HRS has not developed in isolation, but rather in the context of industrial change and economic development.
As such, HRS represents a set of responses to the dramatic and continued effect that industrialization has had on society and the world of work (Doodlebug et al. , 1995). The next step in the evolution of human resource management was international (IHRAM), which becomes increasingly complex as new types of employees and their unique attributes are considered as part of the IHRAM activities: host-country nationals (Hess), home-Parent-country nationals (PC’s) and third-country nationals (Tics) (Morgan, 1986).
Numerous new issues rise given the diversity of employee in an international context: 1) expatriates; 2) host-country nationals; 3) third-country nationals; and, most recently, 4) inebriates. The complexity Of operating in different countries and employing different national categories of workers is a key variable that fraternities domestic and international human resource management, rather than any major differences between the HRS activities performed (Dowling et al. , 1999). The literature on IHRAM is extensive and has traditionally focused on several levels of analysis: 1) issues facing employees (I. . In terms of transferring expatriates overseas); 2) the IHRAM function and its attendant activities; and 3) the types of factors (firm level and otherwise) that may influence IHRAM (Napier et al. , 1995). The present level in the evolutionary process of human resource management, which complicates the human source functions and systems that much more, is strategic global human resource management (GERM). Viewing the human resource functions in an GERM context exacerbates the international human resource issues due to the co-ordination efforts required to implement the strategy of the corporation.
In today’s global business environment, global organizations must utilize all possible sources of competitive advantage, and human assets are one of these sources (Barney, 1991; Schuler and Rigorous, 1998). The success or failure of an organization in a global context will be determined by TTS managerial capabilities, and the development of globally sophisticated managers is a major challenge in order to Obtain global competitiveness (Has, 1989). Virtually any type of international problem, in the final analysis, is either created by people or must be solved by people.
Hence, having the right people in the right place at the right time emerges as the key to a company’s international growth. If we are successful in solving that problem, I am confident we can cope with all others. (Udder, 1986: 43) An example of just one of the issues in GERM in regard to the mixed- teeth technique is where to focus the location of the workforce. The location of the workforce is an important strategic consideration, but one that is all too often given only limited attention.
Frequently, decisions are based purely on quantitative attributes of the decisions, such as trade-off transportation costs, scale economies and other explicit seacoasts variables. This quantitative practice, however, can lead to suboptimal results, as decision-makers tend to focus only on factors that are easily quantifiable. Important qualitative issues are frequently neglected and are often central to purporting or creating a global competitive advantage.
For example, location dictates the level of knowledge embedded in the workforce; as such, it can affect the ability of firms to implement skilled process technologies or it can limit the effectiveness of quality programmer. Quantitative analysis in understanding and explaining global commerce is not sufficient and a mixed- method approach (combining both quantitative and qualitative) may provide the insight into successful implementation of GERM practices. 5 Unlike the phenomena that exist in the many physical sciences, human sources deals with essentially complex human phenomena. The use of quantitative data to research and understand human resource management is necessarily limited by the availability of ‘hard’ data on which to base decisions. To overcome this flaw, global research in particular has advocated a cross-fertilization of both quantitative and qualitative research (Bacterially and Adler, 1991; Brewer, 1992; Daniels, 1991; Parke, 1993).
Quantitative methods sometimes do not work well in the study of global management due to the complexity and instructiveness of the problems, with multiple important interactive relationships that cannot be studied in a quick or easy fashion (Wright, 1996). However, researchers must not overlook or abandon quantitative analysis, but use it in concert with qualitative research to grasp the whole concept in explaining this new, dynamic, complex global market.
The impact of globalization on IHRAM The evolving global marketplace can be characterized as one Of uncertainty, diverse global competitors, rapid technological change, widespread competitive wars and seemingly endless reorganizations (Illinois et al. , 1998). There is little doubt that to be viable during the twenty-first century in the global environment, organizations, whether global or domestic, will need to be more global in their outlook, if not in their operations (Rhinestone, 1993).
The complexity involved in operating in different countries and employing different nationalities of employees is a key variable that differentiates domestic and global HRS- Four additional variables (besides complexity) either diminish or accentuate differences between domestic and global HRS: the cultural environment; the differences in industry structures between Mounties; the extent of reliance on the home-country domestic market; and the attitudes of senior management (Dowling 1999).
A twenty-year review by Clark et al. , (2000) of journal papers, published between 1977 and 1 997 in twenty-nine major journals worldwide, that focused on comparative or global HRS found that the methods of data collection were: questionnaires (42 per cent), case studies (30 per cent), literature reviews (1 1 per cent) and a very small number of studies used questionnaires in combination with in-depth interviews and case studies (2 per cent).
What is most interesting is that over 41 per cent of all the studies (total studies reviewed: 20,287) failed to offer any explanation for their results and those that were explained simply stated cultural (22 per cent), institutional (1 9 per cent) or a combination of both. These variables were explained ex post and typically were residual variables rather than independent or explanatory variables (Clark et al. , 2000). It would appear that global research has not progressed in 30 years as the cultural/societal setting ‘is still a reality to be explained and as such cannot yet explain other realities’ Roberts, 19701 330).
Researchers are not alone in their slow-to-develop global mindset, as practitioners from North America also appear unprepared for this new market environment. Eightieth per cent of non-North American executives consider a global outlook as very important for the future versus 62 per cent for IIS Coos, and 70 per cent non-North American Coos versus 35 per cent of CSS Coos consider experience outside their home country as very important (Humpback et al. , 1989).
It would appear that US Coos are underestimating the importance of a global mindset as the global organization must have managers who are prepared to manage a diverse, cross-cultural workforce (Scullion, 1991). This new breed of global managers will need to be very professional, of high quality, deployable, multi-skilled, multidisciplinary and cross-cultural (Vanderbilt, 1992). 26 The International Journal of Human Resource Management The traditional SHIRR models have been developed to capture the influence Of HRS programmer (e. G. Policies, practices and issues) on a multinational organization’s outcomes and vice versa.
The most cited models take either a contingency perspective, emphasizing consistency between HRS and the organization’s strategy (Schuler et al. , 1993), or a universalistic perspective, emphasizing complementarily be;en HRS and strategy (Taylor et al. , 1996). The SHIRR models seem to be appropriate under the conditions of strategic stability supported by the hierarchical structure and strong organizational culture. In these models, it is assumed that multinational organizations compete primarily under low ambiguity and within clearly defined geographic and industry boundaries.
In other words, it is assumed that slow-cycle pressures for organizational renewal and corporate restructuring are salient. In such an environment, organizations are assumed to compete for economic surplus to achieve a structural competitive advantage by aligning their competencies with these activities. In most SHIRR models international variables, like national culture (contingency) or employment systems (complementarily) (Boxful and Purcell, 2000), are dominant. However, De Icier and Dowling (1999) argue against further development of specific international models.
Moreover, Dowling et al. , (1999) argue that the SHIRR models fail to capture HRS effectiveness within global networks. Rather, models encompassing the evolution process form SHIRR to an GERM yester need to be developed as organizations globalize their operations. The shift from an SHIRR to an GERM system is crucial for the evolution of the processes and mechanisms found in HRS systems in order to match the personnel needs of global organizations. This shift is not a semantic one but rather a very definite difference in the manner Of managing the human resource function (see Table 1).
The GERM system shapes organizational culture in terms of co-operative traits and practices (I. E. Content) rather than in values and attitudes (Dimension and Mishear, 1995). Also, this influence is fleeted in terms of the extent to which organizational culture is shaped across the organizational units (I. E. Strength). The extent to which the content and strength of organizational culture are shaped by the shift to the GERM system is influenced by the managerial global leadership mindset. If this influence is significant, the organization’s global performance is likely to be improved.
The GERM perspective on human resource management goes beyond the SHIRR view by emphasizing that HRS effectiveness arises not only from the aggregate talent of Table 1 Transformation of intangible dimensions f human resource perspective Traditional hierarchical SHIRR Evolving network hatchery GERM Age n icy Control/monitoring Information asymmetry Unidirectional Structure-oriented Behavioral consistency Hierarchy Oriented towards cost Formal rules WHQL initiatives Functionalism Administrative spirit Stewardship Trust/commitment build Knowledge sharing Reciprocity Process-oriented Cognitive reference Flexibility Hatchery Oriented towards value Informal norms Subsidiary initiatives Cross-functionalism Entrepreneurial spirit 27 the organization’s employees, but also from the co-ordinates deployment of his talent across the global organization’s network of relationships. The efficiency of this type of relational co-ordination is in turn a function of the global organization’s cultural context (Beer et al. , 1995).
For the global HRS manager to develop the leadership role, modes/options and influence the major transformation of the organization’s cultural context, the role of human resource management is to be refocused from the ‘traditional HRS focus on attracting, selecting and developing individuals to a new focus on developing an organizational context which will attract and develop leaders as well as acclimate teamwork’. This new global leadership focus of HRS encompasses new approaches to decision-making as well as innovative approaches to organizing and managing people within global networks (I. E. Global team- based management, high involvement of diverse employees and effective and meaningful communication across cultures). In other words, the innovative global HRS leadership can succeed in changing the organization’s culture only by focusing more on the new strategic task within global networks and less on modifying traditional HRS programmer.
The focus on the new global strategic task requires both an effective adhering by the global HRS manager and an efficient design of the GERM system. Specifically, the HRS manager’s role transformation towards leadership within a global network is contingent upon an efficient GERM system design. To yield an efficient GERM system, the HRS processes necessitate seamless interfaces across a variety of dynamic relationships within a global network. The purpose of the seamless interfaces IS to mitigate different risks and uncertainties arising due to the interaction among members within the global network. These human resource processes must also contribute to the optimization of knowledge integration within the global network (Salsa, 1991).
Therefore, it is proposed in this paper that the architecture of the GERM system depends upon the scope of the NC strategic orientation relative to network members and the extent of the dynamics in the global network environment. By using the theoretical perspectives of relational contracting (McNeil, 1974, 1978, 1980, 1985) and the knowledge-based view of the firm (Grant, 1996), a theoretical framework for an efficient GERM system design supporting global HRS manager’s leadership can be developed for global organizations. Due to the importance of human capital as one form of competitive advantage in the new global marketplace, the GERM manager’s role will become elevated (Greenest et al. , 1998). The key to success in the global marketplace is the ability to attract, train and retain a diverse workforce (Harvey and Novice, 2002, 2003).
A dedicated and talented workforce may serve as a valuable, scarce, non;imitable resource that can help firms execute an appropriate positioning strategy (Load and Wilson, 1994) and the human dimension has received a good deal of conceptual attention from strategy scholars (Fill, 1 991; Load et al. , 1992; Rumble et al. , 1 991 The global organization must be flexible enough to develop products/services that attract consumers, yet maintain a fit of organization systems and controls that maintain corporate culture and quality. Global organizations are more efficient and effective when they achieve fit relative to when there IS not fit (Bard and Mausoleum, 1988; Lengthily and Lenience-HaIl, 1988; Mailman et al. 1991) and yet a focus on maximizing fit can be counterproductive if the firm has adopted conflicting competitive goals to respond to a complex competitive environment (Lenience-Hall and necking-Hall, 1988). GERM will be an integral part of the firm’s strategy to find organizational fit yet maintain employee/customer flexibility, or, as coined, to ‘think globally/act locally’. The marketplace and employees are ever changing and new culturally specific GERM procedures will require flexible innovative solutions. Flexibility can be broken 28 The International Journal of Human Resource Management into two components: resource and co-ordination. Resource flexibility is when a resource can be applied to a larger range of alternative uses.
This is measured by the difficulty of switching the use of one resource to another and the amount of time to do so. For example, the extent to which the firm can re-synthesize strategy, reconfigure change of resources and redeploy resources refers to co-ordination flexibility (Sanchez, 1995). GERM managers will be required to establish systems that are flexible enough, but also encourage strategic or organizational goal fit. In the current dynamic global market, this task is enormous, if not impossible. Both the GERM researcher and practitioner have nearly insurmountable obstacles to obtain the relevant information necessary to develop or study GERM systems.
Global studies are invariably more expensive, time consuming and difficult to ‘sell’ to management than domestic studies, and can be a liability for global researchers in a competitive research funding environment. In addition, global research takes more time, involves more travel and frequently requires the co-operation of host-county organizations, government officials and researchers. Development of a stream of global human resource management research is scones neatly much more difficult (Dowling and Schuler, 1992). The evolution to strategic global human resource management systems GERM uses as its focus the belief that people are a valuable resource and should be managed strategically.
Thus GERM needs to be aligned to and port the organization’s strategic objectives in order to obtain legitimacy (Kampuchea and Mueller, 1998). Institutional theory posits that HRS practices develop and attain legitimacy through the construction of reality (Oliver, 1997). HRS becomes institutionalized, whereby its social processes, obligations or actualities come to take on a rule-like status in social thought ND actions (Meyer and Rowan, 1977). When individuals within the firm come to accept shared definitions of what comprises legitimate HRS practices, or HRS becomes institutionalized, the likelihood of significant changes in those practices recedes (Scott, 1 987; Wright and Snell, 1998).
Therefore, research into GERM must take into account complex interactions in how non-choice behaviors can occur and persist, through the exercise of habit, convention, conveniences or social obligation (Oliver, 1 991), rejecting the idea that organizational phenomena are the products of rational choice based upon cynical considerations (Western, 1993). More than just a complicated unique valuable resource, people are also a source of capabilities that are firm specific and more valuable than resources that are available and transferable. These human capabilities are seen as developing, carrying and exchanging information (Amity and Shoemaker, 1993).
The integration and co- ordination of personnel throughout the global system in GERM has proved to be difficult to manage due to barriers of distance, language, time, culture, turf battles and accountability, and the proliferation of communication Hansel, to name a few (Bartlett and Shoal, 1990). The strategic effectiveness of the human organization in the global market is of considerable importance and both practitioners and researchers have begun to explore the theoretical and empirical linkages between GERM and strategy (Adler and Goddard, 1990; Kabuki, 1992; Mailman et al. , 1991). GERM is seen as positioning its resources through vertical and horizontal fit.