Academic journal article Management Revue

Globalisation, the Wave, and the Undertow

Academic journal article Management Revue

Globalisation, the Wave, and the Undertow

Article excerpt

'Globalisation, the Wave, and the Undertow' is a critical review of a dozen books with relevance to international HRM and international business. The books under review here are (in alphabetical order):

* Bucknall, H. / Ohtaki, R. (eds.) (2005): Mastering Business in Asia: Human Resource Management. Singapore, Wiley: 220pp, £12.99

* Chen, M. (2004): Asian Management Systems. London, Thomson: 288pp, £30.99

* Chua, A. (2003): World on Fire. London, Heinemann: 346pp, £12.99

* Forrer, M. (2004): Hokusai: Mountains and Water, Flowers and Birds. London, Prestel: 96pp, $14.95

* Moellering, G. (2006): Trust: Reason, Routine, Reflexivity. London, Elsevier: 230pp, £51.99

* Ong, A. H. (1999): Flexible Citizenship. London, Duke University Press: 335pp. £13.99

* Prahalad, C. K. (2005): The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Upper Saddle River (NJ), Wharton School Publishing: 304pp £9.99

* Rowley, C. / Benson, J. (eds.) (2004): Management of Human Resources in the Asia-Pacific: Convergence Reconsidered. London, Routledge: 256pp, $155.00

* Scullion, H. / Collings, D. (2006): Global Staffing. London, Routledge: 232pp, $33.95

* Skromme Granrose, C. (ed.) (2005): Employment of Women in Chinese Cultures: Half the Sky. Cheltenham, Edward Elgar: 224pp, £53.96

* Warner, M. / Joynt, P. (2002): Managing Across Cultures. London, Thomson: 284pp, £34.19

* Warner, M. (ed.) (2003): Culture and Management in Asia. London, Routledge: 2 84pp, £21.99

We divide our review of these books into two basic categories: one contains those books that, in our view, appear to represent the Wave' of Western management thought and practice; and one containing books that appear to give access to the (often invisible) resistance to this wave - what we term the 'Undertow'. In formulating our views, we draw on our experience of working in Asia and in other non-We stern contexts. Our overarching purpose with this review is to increase knowledge and to enable foreigners and host nationals in Asian HRM contexts to better understand each other and so better work together for mutual benefit. We also hope that our theme of 'wave and undertow' will stimulate research interest among the readers of this review.

Visualising the wave and the undertow

We assume that our readers can visualise a wave, breaking from the sea on to the shore. We will soon be asking you to visualise a specific wave, one that represents the arrival of Western notions of HRM theory or policy, or 'best practice' in international HRM as it breaks against the shores of HRM practice, experience and expectation in Asian contexts.

How should we visualise the 'undertow' in our approach? According to one English language dictionary, the term 'undertow' refers to 'the seaward undercurrent following the breaking of a wave on the beach; any strong current flowing in a different direction from the surface current (Collins English Dictionary, 2005: 1751). We note here that, although the wave is likely to gain the attention of most observers, it is the undertow that carries the greater volume and weight of water. We note also that the undertow is active, and not only during the dramatic 'arrival' of the wave to shore. It is active also under the 'surface' of what might be termed the routine movements and currents of water. In certain geographical locations, it is the undertow that poses by far the most danger to the over-confident and unwary who venture into the water.

Developing on this image, we recognise from common experience and observation how visitors to the Asia-Pacific region may not have access to how people express themselves in local languages or dialects. Not every international manager or researcher is multi-lingual, nor cross-culturally aware or competent. However, curious and well-wishing observers can access local cultures through the images the members of these cultures create for themselves. …

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