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Domestic and International Human Resources
Adler (1990) emphasizes the importance of the international experience in the business world. The developing technologies between the time of Adler's presentation and 2004 has made this all the more prominent. When distinguishing between domestic and international human resources then, it is important to note that the one seldom goes before the other, while the domestic human resources paradigm has developed over a far longer time than international human resources. Adler (1990) explains that there has been an evolution in the business world from domestic human resources to international or global human resources. This has to be taken into account when business is conducted both on the local and international level.
When a company is domestically orientated, the product or service remains focused on the domestic market. Thus, research and development, as well as marketing occur on the domestic level. With a centralized organization structure there are no exports, and human resources similarly are focused on the domestic workforce. No workers are sent abroad for global expansion, and therefore there is no need for cross-cultural training and development (Adler, 1990). Of course international business is mostly not of importance. The focus is on the product or service, and its development for the local market. All human resources are then orientated towards this approach.
When expanding to foreign markets, the orientation moves away from new products and services and towards marketing (Adler, 1990). This directly affects human resources within a company, since interaction now occurs with a foreign market. Also, a company's marketing professionals are sent to foreign countries in order to promote the product or service with an orientation towards the foreign market. This then necessitates the training and development of expatriates to develop cultural sensitivity. Marketing, worker motivation and managing should be orientated to the foreign market. Furthermore foreign human resources will become an important asset once the company is established in the country. Cross-cultural communication becomes very important, and those working in the international division or foreign countries need to have excellent communication skills (Adler, 1990).
Adler also identifies multinational and finally global orientation as steps where international human resources play an important role. In the multinational orientation, a firm moves its focus to price, assuming that its product or service is now established in the initial foreign market.
Cultural sensitivity outside is less important, while inside the firm the importance of this issue increases within the firm itself. There is therefore a shift of focus in human resources. Recruiting and marketing outside the firm makes way for a multinational culture within the firm itself, as persons from different countries and cultures are expected to work together. Human resource managers should therefore be very aware of possible conflicts as a result of this, and the consequent need for cross-cultural skills training.
According to Adler (1990), the global phase of international expansion is the final and most sophisticated phase of a company in the foreign market. The emphasis here is on a concept termed by Adler "mass customization" of products and services. This means that foreign relations are extremely important, as local tastes and preferences are taken into account for every country where a product or service is offered. Cross-cultural understanding among both workers inside and customers outside of the company therefore becomes primarily important. Political and economic trends, as well as local tastes then should be taken into account by means of research.
HR Strategy and National Organizational Culture recent trend in organizational culture in the UK has been to balance the world of work with personal life at home. HR strategy has thus begun incorporating policies by means of which the workforce could effectively enjoy life both in and out of the office. This is strategic for business, and enhances worker performance as well as the tenacity of good workers within a company (Computer Weekly, 2003).
In the UK, this strategy is focused on significant changes that have occurred in the world of business. Providing workers with more flexibility and control in their working lives is part of an adaptation process in order to create a win/win situation for businesses and their employees.
Demographic changes in the domestic workforce has contributed significantly to this demand for change. Women have increasingly become part of the workforce (currently comprising almost half), and the age of the average worker has also increased as medical technology has improved. Part of the pressure on the employer is the fact that little incentive for mothers to return to work after maternity leave costs business in the UK up to 39m pounds sterling per year in recruitment (Computer Weekly, 2003). Workers thus have many other areas besides their professional life to manage, and HR strategies need to take this into account to optimally benefit the economy of business in the UK.
Another interesting statistic involving women in the UK relates to IT professions. In the first quarter of 2002, 36% of new IT recruits were women, while 46% of all persons leaving this industry in the same time period were also women.
According to Computer Weekly (2003) then, the best way to deal with the problem is to modify HR policies in order to suit the requirements of the best workers who are currently leaving. In this way the loyalty and commitment prized so highly by employers will evolve with companies rather than having to be built up by replacing a valuable workforce that can nonetheless not be retained. Human resource strategies thus link closely with incentives in the organizational culture of the UK. And indeed, organizational culture appears to move increasingly towards flexible hours. Consumer culture also appears to enhance the need for flexible hours, as many companies provide and demand services across 24 hours in a day and seven days per week (Computer Weekly, 2003). These factors have motivated change in HR policies, in order to enhance organizational culture to become a positive factor in the lives of workers. Healthy and happy workers saves industry money. Legislation and policy are beginning to echo this.
According to Bentley (2002) however, statistics gained from surveying companies show the need for more equal and flexible working hours across all organizations and departments. 4% of companies for example believed that their IT department actively promoted flexible working, whereas 42% believed that their HR department does promote such hours. The reasons for this, according to Bentley, include stereotypical views held regarding the typical workforce culture within a company.
The profile for a typical flexi-worker is for example a married woman over 25 years of age, who is also a mother. She is not as interested in technical assets such as digital technology for the enhancement of her career as she is in more flexible hours and child support. In contrast to this is the typical non-flexi-worker is a male under 25 years of age. He does not have much interest in a greater work-life balance, but technological advancements such as the newest palm pilot interests him most. These two paradigms are seldom found in such a clear-cut manner in the work place. It has been mentioned above that the workforce is increasing in age, and also that an increasing amount of women is joining the technical workforce.
Some HR departments cater specifically for the current culture needs of their workers. One such example is profiled by Berta (2003). Aramark Corp., a foodservice management firm, boasts 165,000 employees. These workers are offered flexible hours, as well as benefits such as health insurance.
Part of the human resource strategy is to provide an attractive work environment for the company's employees. This is done through leadership development, team building and diversity initiatives (Berta, 2003). Because the company is so large, its HR division is sophisticated and integrated to cater for the needs of every employee. Division presidents then head vice presidents, who work with a team of HR directors. Regular meetings are held to discuss and solve possible problems.
Such strategies then form the basis of the United Kingdom's needs in the HR field. Changes in general culture also necessitate changes in the business world. These should be faced and facilitated through human resource management. The focus in the modern world is much more on the family and other recreational areas of life, rather than on work alone. Women entering the workplace have also increased significantly, and brought with them the need to diversify. This is a need that should be taken seriously by HR departments.
The focus on a happy personal life in order to provide for a successful business life also affects men in the workplace. All workers have certain basic emotional and mental needs. It should then be the focus of each HR department to be aware of these and provide for them. Stereotypical thinking regarding certain workers according to their age group or marital status should also be eliminated in favor of profiling individual workers rather than groups of workers. In this way inaccuracies can be avoided.
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