The Role of the International Personnel Function
There is a dearth of existing literature on cross-national variations in the organization, role, and boundaries of the personnel function. This chapter explores the evolving role and structure of the personnel function within the different national subsidiaries of US multinationals, and how these fit with the multinational company’s conception of the function’s role at an international level. It is argued that personnel departments in US multinationals face mounting pressures to reduce costs, leading to structural innovations such as shared service centres. Subsidiary personnel departments have pursued a more strategic role as ‘business partner’, and as contributor to the design of international HR policies. The management of tensions between the US approach and different host-country traditions of personnel management are examined, as well as the way in which subsidiary personnel managers ‘negotiate’ with higher levels of the international HR function, drawing on the institutional resources of their local environment.
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