International Perspectives on Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

Article excerpt

International perspectives on organizational behavior and human resource management Betty Jane Punnett (2004). Armonk, NY & London, UK: M.E. Sharps, 285 pp. ISBN 0-7656-1057-4

This book is a real change from the large-format, well-illustrated, and Web-laced textbooks that fill the market nowadays. It is just a no-nonsense book that informs rather than entertains. There are no cases, just examples of her points spread through the chapters. There are no sample study/exam questions. It is, put simply, just a book that one can build around in developing a course on international management.

Punnett is a native of the West Indies who taught for years at the University of Windsor in Canada before returning to the islands. She writes with a fluid, easy style and is not afraid to inject her own experiences into relevant parts of this book. They give it a real feel of authenticity. The book is also laced with a lot of common sense observations about management questions in an international context, perceptions that seem obvious until one realizes that these are most often observed in the breach than in the observance.

I recently had occasion to recommend to my students that they read a couple of chapters from Punnett's book. The readings were well-regarded and discussed at length by the students in class, even though the course was only tangentially related to international subjects. Punnett offers a perspective on subjects such as motivation and leadership that reminds students that their perceptions of these topics may well be culture-bound. It also was striking how the international students stepped up their contributions to the class discussion.

The book itself focuses on three broad topics: (a) the environmental factors, such as geography, history, language, and religion, that create and sustain cultural differences, (b) some organizational behaviour topics, such as leadership and motivation, that are affected by cultural differences, and (c) some problems and solutions related to the staffing and training of employees who are destined to work in foreign subsidiary offices. …