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Overview of the Book

In the book entitled International Human Resource Management, multiple authors have
collaborated to create a book that gives an integrated approach to various international
management themes. Each author wrote one or more sections that make up the entire book. In
total there are 18 authors that partnered together in composing this book. Contributors to this
book include Kerstin Baumgarten, Malcolm Borg, Hilary Harris, Philip Dewe, Anne- Wil
Harzing, Marcel van der Klink, Frits Kluytmans, Ed Logger, Martin Mulder, Ad Nagelkerke, and
Willem de Nijs. Additional contributors include Rene Olie, Jaap Paauwe, Hans Slomp, Arndt
Sorge, Joris Van Ruysseveldt, Ulke Veersma, and Rob Vinke. A majority of these authors are
Dutch, but a few hail from England and even New Zealand. Each of these authors have studied at
prestigious universities around Europe and currently are professors or associate professors at
other universities. These contributors have also written and published many papers regarding
specific subjects in their fields of study. Based on their fields of expertise, each person was
specifically selected and then organized into sub-themes that contribute to the central theme.
The book focuses on many areas within international human resource management (HRM),
from the hiring and development of international employees to how human resource managers
affect the work environment and can have a key role in creating an organizational culture. The
book itself is split into four different parts. In the first section, the authors give a broader
perspective on the human resources discipline as whole. It looks at the larger picture within the
organization and how human resource management fits into the multinational corporation
(MNC). The second section discusses culture within the organization itself and how human
resources impacts culture in the international workplace environment. In the third part of the

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book, the authors focus more on the employees themselves of international companies. They
provide details on the process human resource managers should go through and what to look for
in international employees, mainly expatriates. Then in the fourth part, it specifically focuses on
the subject of industrial relations and democracy.
Since the book encompasses various topics within the human resources field, I decided to
focus more specifically on the second and third parts of the book because they interested me the
most. Although culture was an underlying theme in all of the sections, it was most prominently
discussed in the second unit of the book. Culture is seen as the foundation of the multinational
corporation (MNC) and is therefore seen throughout various topics regarding international
business. The authors have found that companies put up a faade of superficial uniformity, but
actually have fundamentally different conceptions of organization and management that they
often hide (Harzing et al., 1995, p. 142). With a wide variety of cultures and people within a
firms business environment, cultural diversity calls for different policies geared to the needs of
the people involved (Harzing et al., 1995, p. 142). These policies are necessary when
maintaining a workforce in an international environment. Human resource managers need to be
aware of the differences and know how to handle a diverse workforce. This may cause managers
to organize differently in order to combat issues that arise from working in diverse cultural
environments. The cultural issue in global business leads into the next units discussion on
forming the workforce in an international environment.
In the third unit, they analyze the different types of expatriates and how they are developed.
It goes on to explain the expatriates function in the international organization. The author then
explain the advantages and disadvantages for each type of expatriate group. The different types

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of expatriates that are discussed include parent-country nationals, host-country nationals, and
third-country nationals. In this section, the authors recognize that not all expatriate missions are
successful, and different types of expatriates work for different environments. But they have
found that if a human resource manager can make the right selection and provide the necessary
training, there is no reason why an expatriate cannot have a successful overseas experience.
Supporting Arguments
The first concept I will discuss relates to the diversity of culture that is found in a
multinational corporation. Before determining what impact culture has on human resource
management and the business environment, culture must first be defined. The authors of the
book agree that culture is not a characteristic of individuals, but of a collection of individuals
who share common values, beliefs, [and] ideas (Harzing et al., 1995, p. 127). Culture is also
learned, meaning that the culture of a group is transmitted to each generation through the process
of socialization. There is also a historical aspect to culture because a nations culture takes time
to develop and is a product of the nations history, its demographic and economic climate, [and]
its geography (Harzing et al., 1995, p. 128). The authors agreed that culture cannot just be
simply defined because it encompasses many layers, therefore their description of culture is
complex and detailed. They then came to the conclusion that because of the amount of diverse
cultures, in a business environment human resource methods and systems developed in one
society cannot always be transferred and applied to another (Harzing et al., 1995, p. 142).
Human resource managers in an international setting, therefore, have the responsibility to adapt
and develop their systems to the diverse environment the firm is in.

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Through research I found multiple sources that agree with the authors conclusions as well.
In one journal article, the author supports the idea that differences in cultures mean differences
within the company. It is the culture of the organization [that] indicates [a] workplace
environment, as this is a composition of sets of processes, values, goals, roles, practices of
communication, assumptions, beliefs and attitudes (Alharthey, Rasli, Yusoff, & Al-Ghazali,
2013, p. 60). This article also heavily mentions the impact human resource management has on
culture; HRM plays a role in the development of culture. An article written by Christine KaneUrrabazo in 2006 further develops this idea by stating that culture represents the personality of
an organization, having a major influence on both employee satisfaction and organizational
success (p. 188). She continues on to say, although the cultural dimensions pose a challenge to
managers, how the managers react has an impact on the culture in the organization.
Our textbook also supports the ideas of each of these authors. In the textbook, it
acknowledges that the cultural environment of international businessposes a variety
ofchallenges and opportunities for human resource managers (DeNisi & Griffin, 2014, p.55).
Due to the variances in cultures, managers must be prepared to work with people that have
cultural differences. These different cultural dimensions may include language barriers, beliefs,
values, and existing roles for people. All of these factors influence human resource management
practices. When there are cultures that are similar, relatively few problems or difficulties maybe
encountered because managers and employees can relate past experiences to those they
encounter at present (DeNisi & Griffin, 2014, p.56).
The second main theme I will explore is the authors endorsement of expatriate use in most
multinational corporations. The author believes that expatriation is a viable approach within

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multinational corporations (Harzing et al., 1995, p. 185). Expatriates that are successful can help
drive revenue, value and growth to the organization and [they] have always been a driving and
determining factor for the success of the organizations overseas operations (Duppada &
Aryasri, 2011, p. 205). Multinational corporations use expatriate managers extensively,
especially parent country nationals in an ethnocentric staffing model. In International Human
Resource Management, the author says that the ethnocentric method is most commonly used for
various reasons. This may be because these employees are most familiar with the home offices
objectives and goals, as well as more technically competent in specific areas of expertise.
According to Robert Wasson in his 2004 article, he believes that another common reason for
using expatriate managers are trust and control (p.16). Overall, the general consensus for the
use of expatriates in overseas assignments is because they may have the expertise or technical
skills which are not available locally (Wasson, 2004, p.16).
Although the book favors expatriates, they equally discuss other staffing models that dont
use expatriates. In some instances, they even state that not using expatriates may be more
beneficial to international firms. Many outside sources tend to agree with the books approach of
including various staffing models, in order to emit bias and relate to the reader models that may
actually work better in certain situations. Despite the fact that many multinational corporations
use the ethnocentric model, the geocentric model is recognized as being most ideal. In this
model, parent-country, host-country, and third-country nationals are put into the same category,
with the firm attempting to always hire the best person available for the position (DeNisi &
Griffin, 2014, p.55). The geocentric staffing model is most likely to be adopted and used by
fully internationalized firms (DeNisi & Griffin, 2014, p.55). It is also an idyllic model because
it attempts to balance both global integration and local responsiveness (Caligiuri & Stroh,

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1995, p.495). Also discussed is the polycentric staffing model, which utilizes host-country
nationals. Host-country nationals can be very valuable assets for organizations operating in their
home country. These people are familiar with their own countries cultures, languages, values,
laws, and resources, which makes the job easier (Caligiuri & Stroh, 1995, p.496).
The third theme from the book is the connection between culture and the development of
expatriate employees in what is called cross-cultural training. Human resource managers must
utilize cross-cultural training in order to prepare the best employees for international
assignments. The authors of International Human Resource Management feel that multinational
corporations do not implement enough training before sending expatriates abroad. They have
found that 70 percent of US expatriates are sent abroad without any cross-cultural training
(Harzing et al., 1995, p. 207). Although many expatriates are not prepared in the cross-cultural
sense, they still go through some sort of training before going abroad. It has been found that
expatriates that go through cross-cultural training go into their assignments well prepared, which
ultimately helps them be more successful.
The book, along with our textbook, discusses the extent to which most companies train their
employees before going on an international assignment. Cross-cultural training strategies include
simulations, sensitivity training, and field experiences. The specific training options that are used
vary from role playing and case studies, to lectures and field trips. Most expatriates training may
be as simple as language training or it can be rather involved depending on the organization
(DeNisi & Griffin, 2014, p.69). Overall, many people attribute multiple training techniques as
the best methods to train expatriates cross-culturally. Using a variety of exercises and methods
help to increase the effectiveness of training. Through all these methods, human resource

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managers are able to shape and develop necessary skills, attitude, knowledge expertise and
behavior within their new cultural environment (Alharthey, Rasli, Yusoff, & Al-Ghazali, 2013,
p.62). Cross-cultural training has a significant impact on the expatriates attitudes and
assimilation into their new culture.
The final main theme of the book that I will discuss is how the process of selecting
expatriates determine their success abroad. There are many factors that go into a successful
expatriate. However, managers must remember that overseas success does not automatically
follow success at home (Wasson, 2004, p.17). Despite exploring other important factors that
companies should look at when selecting an expatriate, the book came to the conclusion that
most companies will end up using technical competence and knowledge of company systems as
[the main] selection criteria (Harzing et al., 1995, p. 189).
The contributors to the book, along with other authors like Wasson, all agree that the most
important factor is the selection process. The steps in the selection process are key to
determining whether the candidate is going to be a successful expatriate. Our textbook also
places importance on the selection process. It talks about how managers need to look for in
potential expatriates the skills and abilities necessary to perform the work that the organization
needs to have done and also the skills and abilities that are needed to work in a foreign
location (DeNisi & Griffin, 2014, p.66). According to International Human Resource
Management, they have concluded that in the selection process, technical skill alone should not
be the basis of any managers decision. However, it is the most important factor that managers
must take into account.

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Within the selection process, there are other factors that are important for human resource
managers to consider, besides their technical competencies. The book places heavy importance
on the candidates personal traits, ability to cope with environmental constraints, and their family
situation. If all of these factors are not aligned, it can lead to an unsuccessful expatriate.
Managers need to learn to identify these risk factors to ensure they select the best candidate.
Wasson expands on this idea saying that managers should pay special attention to the
expatriates family situation because that often times can be important in determining an
expatriates success or failure (p.17). Another important factor is the preparation the expatriate
goes through before leaving for assignment. If the managers do not prepare the expatriate
enough, that can lead to problems abroad. Wasson also says that human resource managers need
to be more attentive to their expatriates overseas because they will require more attention (p.17).
All of these factors are entwined and contribute to the expatriates success or failure while on
assignment. This is why the authors of International Human Resource Management, as well as
other writers, place such a heavy emphasis on the selection process.
Weaknesses/ Biases
One of the main issues I see in this book is the possibility of biased opinions. Although this
book has 18 contributors, a majority of them are Dutch, and all of them are European. A majority
of these authors studied at universities in the same region. The book has a predominantly
European influence, which in my opinion, has biased the research. Since most of these writers
are from the same area, there is not a very broad perspective on human resource management in
an international context. If the contributors of the book were from various countries and cultural
backgrounds, it would make more sense as an international human resource book. Instead it

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relies on experts that do not come from diverse circumstances. If the authors had come from a
broader range of backgrounds, as oppose to similar backgrounds, this book would be stronger in
the subject matter thats discussed.
An issue that the authors discussed in the book, which I saw as weak, was that they did not
really talk about the failures of expatriates. They tried to endorse the use of expatriates in
international business, that they did not cover completely all angles of the issue. Failure rates for
expatriate assignments are relatively high, where around 40 percent of the assignments are not
successful (Wasson, 2004, p.16). The contributors to the book did not fully explore why these
expatriates fail, only citing vague reasons for their failures. Instead they touted their successes
and the importance of expatriates in international settings.
Although expatriates are valuable resources for multinational corporations, they come at a
high cost. Human resource managers need to recognize that these international assignments are
fraught with compliance risk (Odell & Spielman, 2009, p.24). This means that, from country to
country, managers face issues related to labor laws, retirement plan regulations, income tax,
social tax, and immigration and foreign exchange control (Odell & Spielman, 2009, p.24).
Managements role in monitoring areas of expatriate assignments lead to different policies and
procedures in each country of operation. This leads to complications and even confusion within
an organization.
Expatriates may not just face problems while abroad, but upon returning to their home
country, they face issues as well. From adjusting back to their home culture to financial issues,
there are a wide array of problems that arise from expatriation, even if they were successful in
their mission. An issue many expatriates face are problems with their benefits coverage as they

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move around (Hait, 1992, p.22). If the book had gone into more details about these many issues,
the idea of expatriation sounds more realistic and less appealing because it is not as easy to fulfill
in organizations as they make it seem.
Practical Applications
I believe that the intended audience for the book are human resource managers that are in an
international setting and those that are studying international business with an emphasis in
human resource management. I came to this conclusion because of the breadth of topics covered.
Although this book is detailed, compared to more specific books on this subject matter, it is
really just a brief overview of each of the elements that go into international management. This
book is able to be studied as a whole, or as independent units. Depending on a readers field,
certain parts maybe more valuable than others.
I dont believe this whole book would be useful for practicing managers, but a few sections
could be beneficial for them to read. The book is not a complete manual for mangers to go by.
Although the various sections are written in detail, it is more of an overview of the broader
subject of international human resource management. It wouldnt be a helpful book for day to
day activities in a firm. The book would not be very beneficial to top managers because it talks
about practices and subjects that the top management are most likely already well versed in,
otherwise they wouldnt be at a top level of management. Also, top managers are not concerned
with hiring practices and they dont take part in the training of those that are hired. This book
would be somewhat beneficial for middle managers because they are the managers that fulfill the
top managements goals for the organization. This book talks a little about the structure of the
organization and how to integrate human resources into an international environment, which the

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middle managers would be responsible for. The book would be most beneficial for first-line
managers because they are the managers that deal with employees every day. They do the hiring
and training of the employees. It is up to them to figure out ways to motivate and drive their
employees to the companys goals and also to help ensure the company is adapting to the culture
of their international environment.
This book would be a valuable read for business students because of the subjects that are
discussed. Although it is a bit dry of a read, it provides valuable information on a variety of
processes that go into international management. It gives detailed information regarding hiring
practices and other aspects that go into choosing the right people for the job. The book is overall
a valuable tool for business students, especially those with a concentration in human resource
management and are interested in gaining an international background. For non-business
students this would definitely give them a broad, but detailed perspective of the different aspects
of human resources practiced internationally. However, I do not feel that it would appeal to nonbusiness students because of the subject matter that is discussed. The sections about culture and
handling expatriated may be interesting, but other parts of the book talk about multinational
corporations and industrial relations as well as policy behind those relations. It is not a book
designed to give a general view of business, but a more in depth look at areas within the
international human resource management field.
In conclusion, I had a generally favorable opinion of this book. The reason I dont favor it
more highly is because of a few small issues. The first problem I had with the book was that the
last unit was a little over my head. They talked about issues that I am not familiar with in this

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stage of my business studies. I feel that the topics discussed in that chapter were geared more
towards managers or business students at higher levels because they would be more familiar with
the topics it covered. These units that I did not discuss in the critique were relatively boring and
the subject matter did not appeal to my interests. Overall, the topics I focused on were interesting
to me. I feel that they would be valuable to any student interested in learning more about how
much of an effect culture has on the international business environment.
Another reason why I rated the book as generally favorable is because I found a few
structural issues with it. In my opinion, the broad array of subjects discussed in the book was a
weakness because it spreads the information to thin. Although I count this as a weakness, I can
also see how this is a strength depending on who the reader is. It gives an overall good picture on
how human resource management operates in an international setting. In addition, I felt that the
sheer amount of contributors to the book was a little excessive. However, this could also be seen
as a strength because they are representative of multiple viewpoints and it brings in a variety of
ideas relating to the subject.
From the units I focused on, I gleaned the value of expatriates in the workforce and the
importance of culture in the international environment. The book itself was very favorable
towards expatriate workers. Since it is written from a European perspective, I found it interesting
that they really pushed utilizing expatriates in business. Although they favored the use of
expatriates, I came to the conclusion that they did not give the full story when it comes to
everything that goes into having an expatriate worker. This weakness caused me to rate the book
a little less favorably because I could feel some bias, especially in this area of the book. Since the
authors come from an international background, they saw the value and importance of culture in

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the workplace environment. They really seemed to grasp the impact culture has on a variety of
issues within the organization and how managers roles have an effect on a companys culture.
Despite the bias, I found that the overall message was clear, well presented, and based on
through research.

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Alharthey, B., Rasli, A., Yusoff, R. d., & Al-Ghazali, B. M. (2013). Impact of innovation culture
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Caligiuri, P. M., & Stroh, L. K. (1995). Multinational corporation management strategies and
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Hait, A. G. (1992). Employee Benefits in the Global Economy: What U.S. Benefit Professionals
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Wasson, R. (2004). Going international getting the people dimension right. Engineering
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