International Corporation HR Function Term Paper

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HR International

International Corporate HR Function

There are many challenges faced by corporate international HR functions in developing a role beyond that of managing internationally mobile or "expatriate" workforces. Brewster, Sparrow & Harris (2005) note five linked "organizational drivers" relate directly to the challenges international HR functions face. These include: "efficiency orientation, global service provision, information exchange, core business processes and localization of decision-making" (p. 950).

Barriers to efficiency orientation include lack of adequate capital or financial resources, or in some cases personnel to address orientation issues abroad, where workers may require specialized training during orientation to fully understand the core function of their jobs and the policies and procedures required by the home base they work for (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005). In a traditional setting HR managers would move around to various locations, communicating with employees and sharing knowledge about business practices with little difficulty. There may be product division or geographic divisions the manager leads from a remote location, but typically these divisions are located in the same country or in a country that speaks the same language as the home country. However, this can change when expatriates are hired to work with a company in a mobile or in a remote location and capacity (Schuler, 2001).

When working internationally, a manager will manage an international staff from a more "fundamental starting point" meaning the role of the manager includes clarifying the role and duties of the expatriate, and discussing support roles and abilities with the expatriate as well as discussing discretionary business functions with the expatriate. A HR manager must teach the expatriate to be more sensitive to the context and the manager must him or herself work to manage by balancing the global and local roles he or she carries. There is an integration-differentiation balance many refer to as "strategic international Human Resources Management" but many leaders don't really understand what this means in practice. Part of "globalizing" the HR role means the manager will have to learn how to function strategically from the local base and from a global position. Concerns including multiculturalism and diversity can easily be addressed through proper communications, training and knowledge sharing that includes a discourse on global customs and international policy regarding business management (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005).

In international management roles, the HR manager must understand what organizational diplomacy means. Organizational diplomacy includes understanding corporate objectives and policies but also means translating local objectives and policies into international objectives and policies that result in positive outcomes, or meeting strategic resource goals and objectives cross-culturally and locally (Evans, Pucik & Barsoux, 2002). On a simple level, this may mean nothing more than understanding that a handshake locally may have many different meanings globally. The competent HR manager working with internationally expatriates and other companies must learn what is and what is not appropriate to avoid offending clients or global customers while conducting day-to-day transactions and business functions (Evans, Pucik & Barsoux, 2002). Often, simply establishing a framework for what is and is not "customary" is enough for HR personnel and expatriates trying to minimize any offenses they may commit while working internationally (Budhwar & Sparrow, 2002; Evans, Pucik & Barsoux, 2002; Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005). Small thing often become large complications if not attended to properly and promptly when working internationally, so the HR manager has much more training and much more at stake when working internationally, that they must learn before they take on the role of leader locally and globally (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005).

This is difficult, because policies that work locally may not work internationally, thus the HR manager must become more flexible and knowledgeable of international policies and practices so as not to disrupt organizational relations with other countries (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005). The HR manager must find a process by which they can deliver a corporate objective to a remote location in an instantaneous moment, and work to develop frameworks or a paradigm that will allow the expatriate to accept the diversity of national circumstances (Evans, Pucik & Barsoux, 2002). Typically HR managers must work to restructure their leadership tactics and strategies to match not only the local objectives but also the global objectives of the company. To do this the HR manager may have to evaluate the local procedures and policies and determine in what ways they will and will not work in an international capacity (Budhwar & Sparrow, 2002; Evans, Pucik & Barsoux, 2002).

When operations span countries across the established advanced industrialized, newly developing and developing world, international HR functions are challenged by communications problems, issues involving diversity and understanding of culture, and by language barriers that may prove difficult to overcome if HR functions do not have representatives available to translate or to speak with employees or expatriate workforce working in mobile or remote locations (Evans, Pucik & Barsoux, 2002). Challenges the HR functions face include establishing a framework or paradigm for success internationally that meets and exceeds the needs and expectations of the local and the global workforce and organization (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005).

To promote HR excellence, HR managers and administrators must adopt a central HR philosophy and identify the many ways they can transfer knowledge to individuals working in remote locations or abroad (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005). Often the "central" philosophy and objectives of the organization must be modified to match the regulations an organization must follow when working abroad vs. when working locally (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005; Evans, Pucik & Barsoux, 2002; Schuler, 2001). This can be difficult because the organization essentially wants to meet a single set of strategic objectives, but must learn how to translate these objectives to expatriates and people working remotely, in a way that is meaningful and allows the expatriate to meet their personal objectives as well as fulfill their job duties with the organization (Evans, Pucik & Barsoux, 2002). The international corporation also faces compensation challenges when working internationally, because the local dollars afforded employees working locally may or may not match the compensation of individuals working overseas (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005; Evans, Pucik, & Barsoux, 2002). Often expatriates are compensated for items other than work hours, including housing and food, and training that must be accomplished to understand global customs and procedures (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005).

While for the most part compensation is not the most trying issues an organization will face when working internationally, it is a big enough concern that someone should assign an administrator whose sole function is to manage compensation internationally (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005). It is also important that local employees understand how compensation works from a local and global level; otherwise they may take offense if they learn individuals working globally are paid a different rate despite having the same skills and background as someone working locally (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005).

HR functions also include discipline and monitoring of employee work processes. This can be challenging globally because the policies and procedures that govern disciplinary actions may or may not be effective or even possible when working with mobile employees (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005). Often HR managers and administrators must work with other members of the corporation including the CEO and other high-level executives to determine what is and is not effective management and discipline for remote employees. The policies that govern disciplinary actions cannot be considered illegal abroad, which poses another complication to the HR function. Most companies are better off avoiding conflict by first assessing what local practices are and then comparing them to global policies.

Effective leadership is always an important driver of excellence. However, there are many HR processes that can help managers and HR administrators overcome challenges. Processes include "talent management, employer branding, global leadership through international assignments, and evaluation of HR contribution" (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, p. 952). HR companies have to learn how to operate overseas if they want to succeed and remain competitive because the market most companies work in today is globally oriented. No longer do HR companies work on a domestic level. Small and large companies alike are now working throughout the world with external and internal customers-based locally and internationally.

Some challenges are overcome by "joint ventures" which allow an understanding of international "family business units" (Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, p. 950). HR companies must enter a joint venture prepared to analyze the situation objectively (Schuler, 2001; Child & Faulkner, 1998). Companies must also be willing to learn about local customers and local and international dangers, including the dangers that come from international illegal gangs or international competitors which may threaten an HR company's market or personnel (Schuler, 2001; Brewster, Sparrow & Harris, 2005; Kim, Parker & Prescott, 2003). HR organizations can however, use formal and informal processes to centralize and integrate some HR functions, while using leaders abroad to decentralize other functions that allow for greater flexibility in management, often referred to as Human Resources Management or HRM (Kim,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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International Corporation HR Function.  (2007, December 17).  Retrieved January 19, 2020, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/international-corporation-hr-function/7355

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