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Transferring HR ideas and practices: globalization and convergence in Poland

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Abstract:

This article explores the emergent meaning of HRM as a set of concepts, policies and practices in MNC subsidiaries in a post-command economy, Poland, between 1996 and 1999, and examines the transfer, or not, of Western HRM ideas. The article is based on research comparing the processes, policies and practices for managing employees in ten MNC subsidiary units through semi-structured interviews, observation and documentary evidence. First, the evidence shows that in Poland, HRM is an 'imported' concept. Within MNC subsidiary companies in Poland, it is seen as 'Anglo-American' and quite unlike that existing within Polish firms. Second, MNCs are increasingly aware of how HRM, as both function and practice, is one of the key control mechanisms integrating employees across national boundaries. Third, expatriate managers further enforced this key control mechanism in a number of ways: as 'role models', displaying the appropriate company behaviours, values and way of doing things; as 'fixers', adapting corporate values and mission statements; as 'key actors', enacting the HRM practices; as 'networkers' or 'boundary spanners' connecting local managers with other parts of the company; as 'agents of the owners', ensuring that the new subsidiary company could be trusted; and as 'coaches' or 'mentors' transferring knowledge to local managers.

Keywords: CONVERGENCE; EXPATRIATE MANAGERS; GLOBALIZATION; HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT; POLAND

Document Type: Review Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13678860210143569

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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