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International Diffusion of HRM Practices: The Role of Expatriates By Jean Luc Cerding This paper examines the international

diffusion of HRM practices and aims at building a model of the role of expatriates in the international diffusion of HRM practices. We focus on expatriates who are in a position to transfer HRM practices, such as managers and HRM professionals. The dependent variable of this model is the diffusion of HRM practices, through both implementation and internalization. The purpose of this model is to describe this diffusion of HRM practices as the result of two distinct forces, one conveyed by parent company management, the other by the subsidiary's locals, revolving around expatriates. Introduction This article is concerned with the diffusion of HRM practices within MNCs and, more specifically, the role of expatriates in it. To date research has mainly focused on the role of expatriates as transferors of knowledge rather than as conduits for the transfer of HRM practices from corporate headquarters to subsidiaries. However, as Harris and Holden (2001:85) have stated: "Expatriate managers have a considerable role as interpreters and implementers of HR and business strategy." This article will restrict its attention to those expatriates who are in a position to transfer HRM practices, such as managers and HR professionals, thereby excluding those expatriates whose function is restricted to transferring technical expertise and who have no in-depth knowledge of corporate HRM practices. After presenting an overview of our model of the role expatriates play in the international diffusion of HRM practices we explain the content and then the context of the international diffusion of HRM practices. Finally we describe the interaction between expatriates and locals. A Model of the Role of Expatriates Figure 1 contains a model whose aim is to elucidate the function of expatriates as transferors of HRM practices. The model spans the interaction of expatriates with both the parent company and the subsidiary. Our main dependent variable is the diffusion of HRM practices, mainly from parent to subsidiary. For expatriates to play a key role in the diffusion of HRM practices, they must have a ready knowledge and experience of the parent company's HRM practices. One of the determinants of the diffusion of HRM practices is the context of expatriation from the perspective of the parent company. In particular this includes the type of subsidiary control Page: 49

Model of the role expatriates in the international diffusion of HR practices by the parent.Figure 1. It is often left up to expatriates to put into full and efficient practice the knowledge acquired at headquarters and demonstrate and transfer knowhow. Our model emphasizes the role of the subsidiary. to trust them and to commit to a shared vision. significantly influence the expatriate's impact of the diffusion of HRM practices. the expatriate can be a carrier of HRM practices. This context determines the perceptions of host country nationals (HCNs) regarding expatriates and thereby their willingness to interact with them. Information technology can relay HRM knowledge to subsidiaries. but it cannot transfer know-how. his or her intercultural interaction and the length of the assignment. and the mode of subsidiary staffing. The model indicates that two distinct forces. This context determines the belief the MNC has in its HRM competence and the degree to which expatriates are transferors of HRM practices. The expatriates are at the center of the model. the dependence of it on parent HRM relogicalTitles and the cultural and legal distance between parent and subsidiary. the other by the subsidiary's locals. such as HRM guidelines available on an intranet network. the parent's international orientation and pattern of globalization. How does the expatriate contribute to the success of a HRM practice transfer? Kostova . Diffusion of HRM Practices To date the role of expatriates in the transfer of HRM practices is still a very recent research theme. Another determinant of the diffusion of HRM practices is the context of expatriation from the subsidiary's view point. one conveyed by parent company management. Through his or her knowledge. This impact is shaped by the expatriate's role discretion.

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