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Managing Global Human Resources in UK Multi National Corporations

Periodic Report Summary - GLOBHRM (Managing Global Human Resources in UK Multi National Corporations)

Objective 1:
To determine the factors which influence the foreign investment decision making process within UK-owned multi-national corporation (MNCs) and the strategic role of Human Resource Management Departments in these decisions.

Work Performed to date to achieve Objective 1: All interviews with Senior Human Resource Managers (SHRMs)/UK HR Directors have been completed (n = 143) and the vast majority of the target 100 interviews with CFO's have been completed (n = 93) (see Section 4 for more detail). Final case study work will be completed in Spring 2011.

Objective 2: To establish how human resources contribute to the competitive advantage of foreign subsidiaries. This has been done by examining:
(a) the types of HR practices being used in subsidiaries, with a focus on management development and leadership;
(b) the link between these practices and strategy typologies; and
(c) the relationship between strategy, HR practices and delivery, and subsidiary performance.

Work Performed to date to achieve Objective 2: All interviews with Senior Human Resource Managers (SHRMs)/UK (n = 143), HR specialists (n = 286), and line managers (n = 286) (see Section 4 for an explanation for the inclusion of line managers, a modification on the original application) at the organisation's domestic and foreign subsidiaries -'matched interviews'have been completed. Final case study work will be completed in Spring 2011.

The fulfilment of Objectives 1 and 2 means that the outputs are based on a multi-respondent and a multi-unit method. This enables comparisons between HR specialists and line managers (over 700 respondents) and comparisons between the domestic and foreign subsidiaries (over 140 organisations and 429 units).

Objective 3: To establish a set of characteristics associated with successful foreign investment in the region. These characteristics will be used to formulate guidelines and policy recommendations for MNCs, host country governments, and European Union policy makers.

Work Performed to date to achieve Objective 3: Interviews with key policy makers/government officials in the study countries (n = 6); European Union experts and policy makers (n = 4); and academics with expertise in FDI, labour markets and HRM in the region have been completed (n = 13) (23 such interviews in total, to date) (see Section 4 for more detail). The final interviews will be completed in Spring, 2011.

In addition to the collection of these complex and rich databases, other key achievements are as follows:
-In the grant application, it was stated that the University would sponsor a conference on Global HRM. It was decided that the British Sociological Associtaion's'Work Employment & Society'(WES) Conference, hosted by Brighton Business School, would be used as an umbrella structure in which to place the Global HRM Conference. This was a very successful strategy and top Global HRM scholars presented at semi-plenary and Global HRM themed sessions. Moreover, after being invited by the Researcher during her visits in the Spring of 2010, scholars from four Universities in the study countries also attended the Conference, thereby contributing to knowledge sharing and transfer within the EU. The Researcher presented at the Conference and chaired a total of six sessions.
-The Researcher and Professor Sparrow are editing a Special Issue (SI) of the International Journal of Human Resource Management which will contain the papers presented by selected Conference participants. The Researcher has taken the lead on the organisation of the SI. It is expected that it will be published in 2012.
-Papers under review with academic journals:

'Devolvement of HRM and Perceived Performance within Multinational Corporations (MNC)'s, European Journal of International Management (invited paper, based on Aston Conference paper, revised paper submitted January 2011).

'Management Development?: A Multi-Respondent & Multi-Country Analysis', International Journal of Human Resource Management (submitted August 2010. The paper is under revision. This paper will be included in a Special Issue of this journal that the Researcher is co-editing).

'Strategic HRM outside of Corporate HQ: Lost in Translation?', Human Resource Management Journal (revised paper to be re-submitted February 2011).

The Researcher's paper,'Exploring the Link Between Management Development and Firm Performance: A Multi-Unit and Multi-Respondent Analysis', presented at 11th International Conference on Human Resource Development (HRD) Research and Practice across Europe, Pecs, Hungary, won the Award for'Best International HRD Paper'.

The Researcher contributed three case studies to a study commissioned by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Working and Living Conditions (Eurofound), entitled,'The Impact of Emerging Forms of Inter-firm Relationships on Employment and Working Conditions'(lead by researchers at the Institute of Employment Studies (IES)). This was based on contacts establsihed as part of this grant.

Expected Final Results & Their Potential Impact

The funding has provided an invaluable opportunity to collect large amounts of quantitative and qualitative data that will enhance the extant literature in three broad areas: international HRM, especially management development (MD); methodology of international HRM research-the unique methodology and sample that has been generated is becoming widely acknowledged as original and valuable; and a better understanding of issues pertaining to agency (e. g., conflict between CFOs and HR Directors; conflict between line managers and HR specialists; conflict between subsidiaries and HQs). The econometric analysis undertaken, thus far, finds that agency problems are negatively correlated with the performance of subsidiaries. The role of agency, and especially how culture and organisational history-all of which are more complex in the'contested space'of foreign subsidiaries-has been under-researched by HR scholars. Ways to reduce agency are currently being explored and this has the potential to make important socio-economic impacts.

The collection of the data and the case study work has, as expected, been very time consuming. The majority of this work is now complete-all case studies and interviews will be completed in Spring 2011. The Researcher will then be able to give complete focus to publishing academic articles that will utilise the vast amounts of data collected. All articles will continue to be targeted at the high quality/ranked (3-4s in the UK's REF) journals in the areas of HR and global business. The links with the Institute of Employment Studies (IES), which this grant has also facilitated, will continue to develop. It is intended that an academic journal article, based on the project completed for (Eurofound), will be submitted to a well ranked journal. The project is also helping to facilitate exchange of knowledge between European Union academics and between the Researcher and policy makers/government agencies in the three study countries. The Researcher has been invited by Universities, Government Departments and Agencies in the study countries to present findings from this study. Finally, all of these activities have helped to build the Researcher's reputation as a Global HRM scholar among colleagues who also work in this emerging and growing specialism. The grant has been essential to the Researcher's re-integration into the European Union labour market.