Globalization of Human Resource Management: A Cross-Cultural Perspective for the Public Sector

By Kim, Pan Suk | Public Personnel Management, Summer 1999 | Go to article overview

Globalization of Human Resource Management: A Cross-Cultural Perspective for the Public Sector


Kim, Pan Suk, Public Personnel Management


Human resource management can include two large areas: personnel management and development functions. This paper attempts to shed light on development functions, which have tended to be somewhat disregarded in traditional public personnel administration and international public administration education. The primary objective is to answer some of the most critical questions regarding human resources in a global perspective. How can executives develop a multicultural management group? What role should human resources play in the management of negotiations and international collaboration? How can cross-cultural competencies best be developed?

International environments are changing rapidly. Nothing is permanent, and the cause of yesterday's success may be the cause of tomorrow's failure. Today's leaders must assume the responsibility for creating new models of management systems because many of the assumptions on which management practice were based are now becoming obsolete. Foreign competition and the need to trade more effectively overseas have forced most corporations and government to become increasingly culturally sensitive and globally minded. Rapid technological changes has transformed the time dimension of competition. Speed and quality in addressing the needs of worldwide customers greatly influence who the next winning businesses are going to be. The diffusion of technological know-how around the world is also much quicker than in any other previous era. New powerful global competitors are emerging in countries previously on the periphery of global economic activities. Global competitive conditions are presently affected by a rapid internationalization of service businesses, much of it, again, driven by the emergence of new boundary-crossing technologies.1

Globalization implies accepting that cultural diversity in management composition and management style contributes to the competitive advantage of the global agency. Also, effective globalization calls for the pursuit of a number of management approaches that, on paper, may seem contradictory, but that can truly be effective only through their simultaneous and balanced application. Global human resource management provides an organized framework for developing and managing people who are comfortable with the strategic and operational paradoxes embedded in global organizations and who are capable of managing cultural diversity.2

To develop and manage a global organization implies developing and managing people who can think, lead, and act from a global perspective, and who must possess a global mind as well as global skills. Not one, two, or a dozen international specialists, but a multitude of executives, managers, and professionals are needed to form the core of a global agency.3 The process of globalization requires a progressive transformation of thinking about the role and tools of human resource management in the public sector. The argument proposed is that human resource management can and should make a contribution to the competitive strategy of a global village.

This paper is divided into four parts. The first part deals with the significant environment of global human resource management. The cultural context is examined by comparing human resource management to national cultures. The second part is devoted to specific functional aspects of human resource management that have a unique dimension in a global organization, including the role of human resource management in negotiation. The third part is devoted to the training and development of global managers and executives. Finally, the fourth part offers proposals for potential changes in public administration education, to better meet emerging demands in the public sector.

Setting the Context for the Globalization of Human Resource Management

Changes in the contemporary global economy highlight many of the emerging challenges facing human resource management (HRM). …

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