The current trend in trade agreements has demanded a reevaluation of such change that is likely to remain an aspect of IHRM for its entirety. "International law clearly delineates that companies have human rights responsibilities, although some of the specific responsibilities are ambiguous." (Aaronson, 2003, p. 63) Significant lawsuits against U.S., UK and Canadian Multinational organizations has made it clear that if business and government are not willing to police themselves, on issues of universal human rights, such as labor policy and political and social intimidation through the workplace then the international communities will do so independently through amendments and amalgamations to trade agreements.
Scullion reiterates the importance of the issue of International HRM in the second edition of Human Resource Management: A critical Text, edited by John Story. In this section Scullion elaborates on the ideas that were introduced in the first edition by the same author and editor. In so doing he develops a more complex understanding of the issues that will be decided by international trade and trade agreements and the growth of international markets. In development Scullion acknowledges that IHRM is far more complicated than simply recruiting and/or training adequate international managers to fill positions that had previously been filled by members of the origin culture of the company and that they issues include culture, laws, educational standards, regional standards, communications differences and international and national employment standards and laws. (2000, pp. 288-313) Other experts also stress that IHRM is far more complicated than simple management issues, as employees and managers must also follow international employment standards, established in large part by trade agreements. (Briscoe & Schuler, 2004, p. 143)
NAFTA signed in 1992 by Canada, the United States, and Mexico, aims at promoting more trade and closer economic ties between the three member countries. The treaty provoked considerable protests from groups, such as labor unions, concerned about possible negative consequences that such freer trade might have on employment, wages, and working conditions. It was then decided to negotiate a supplemental agreement on labor issues. This agreement (NAALC - North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation) was concluded in 1993. Under this agreement, all countries are committed to respect and enforce their own labor laws but, in addition, the NAALC provides mechanisms for problem-solving consultations and evaluations of patterns of practice by independent committees of experts. (Briscoe & Schuler, 2004, p. 145)
There is a clear sense that IHRM is a complicated and multifaceted issue that will be greatly influenced by standards and practices of Multinational organizations today and in the future. Those who are not able to answer and/or understand the differences and similarities between the cultures in which they operate will likely fail or be seriously curtailed through sanctions and fines associated with international lawsuits and the examples made by them. The Canadian example is not unlike any other national situation, as the standards and practices expected by the population within the origin country and the laws which it lives within are expected to be upheld even in situations where culture and politics do not follow the same standards. The theoretical constructs of HRM are significant to IHRM because they presume that the international employee will have the same or similar opportunities to have both buy in of the overall goals and standards of the company for whom they work and will be offered opportunities for developmental advancement. The challenge to the Multinational corporation is then to stress these issues even in situations where such opportunities are less likely to exist, rather than simply stressing them in a vacuum.
Aaronson, S.A. (2003, Spring). Courting International Business: What Are the Human Rights Obligations of Global Capitalism?. The International Economy, 17, 63.
Briscoe, D.R., & Schuler, R.S. (2004). International Human Resource Management: Policies & Practices for the Global Enterprise. New York: Routledge.
Caligiuri, P., & Santo, V.D. (2001). Global Competence: What Is it, and Can it Be Developed through Global Assignments?. Human Resource Planning, 24(3), 27.
Scullion, H. (2000) "International Human Resource Management" in Human Resource Management: A Critical Text Second Edition. J. Story editor. Stamford CN: Cengage Learning Business Press. 288-313.