Academic journal article Contemporary Management Research

Global Managerial Skill Sets, Management Development, and the Role of HR: An Exploratory Qualitative Study of North American and Indian Managers

Academic journal article Contemporary Management Research

Global Managerial Skill Sets, Management Development, and the Role of HR: An Exploratory Qualitative Study of North American and Indian Managers

Article excerpt


Since Porter's (1986) seminal study, many researchers have focused on the key factors that assure competitiveness in increasingly global marketplaces, including both business and human resource management (HRM) strategies. With respect to the latter, the importance of developing managers with global skill sets has been a persistent theme in the literature on competitive strategy and HRM over the last decade. This paper extends such research by employing a qualitative methodology to explore the need for and to identify these global skill sets from the perspectives of 56 senior executives from multinational organizations in North America and India. The role of human resource (HR) departments in developing the identified skill-sets for global managers is discussed. The paper also presents the implications for HR professionals and practitioners and provides suggestions for future research.

Keywords: Globalization, Global Mindsets, Human Resource Management, North America, India, Management Development


The globalization of business has arguably resulted from the demand for new markets, cost imperatives, increased competition, and a series of governmental initiatives facilitated by new information and communication technologies (Sealy et al. 2010). Such pressures and opportunities have created significant challenges for multinational corporations. Apart from contextual and overall organizational issues such as diverse levels of government support, infrastructural issues, and technological capabilities, perhaps the most significant challenge relates to the perspectives, skill sets and capabilities of managers in global corporations. The possession of 'global mindsets', or 'the capacity to engage in a boundaryless and synthesized cognitive process that identifies opportunities and innovation in complexity' (Rogers and Blonski, 2010: 19), is considered to be the crucial component of these managerial attributes with significant potential for the growth of multinational corporations (Rhinesmith, 1992, 1993, 1995; Gupta and Govindarajan 2002; Bowen and Inkpen, 2009; Beechler et al, 1999; Cohen, 2010; Lovvorn and Chen, 2011).

Many authors have attempted to more precisely identify the essential managerial global skill sets. For Cabrera and Bowen (2005: 799), these skills encompass the capability to 'expand scale, network or knowledge economies beyond local markets, (to devise) business models that exploit economic inefficiencies across national lines'. Johnson (2011: 30) suggests that effective global managers demonstrate complex characteristics: 'change agents, ethical, decisive, confident, proactive, critical thinkers, versatile, process-focused, open-minded, and accountable'. Other researchers (Hofstede 1980; Bartlett and Ghoshal 1989, 1998; Black and Gregersen 1999; Stanek 2000; Baruch 2002; Cabrera and Bowen 2005) have focused on individual managers' characteristics (age, gender, marital status; nationality, personality) or behavioural dimensions (Stanek, 2000; Kedia and Mukherji, 1999). Cohen (2010) suggests that all of the above criteria for managerial global skill sets need to be evaluated in relation to the management of three key business dilemmas: global formalization versus local flexibility, global standards versus local customization, and global dictates versus local delegation.

While research on the criteria for global management skill sets and capabilities is relatively well-developed, especially among Western multinational corporations (MNCs), there has been considerably less attention on how such skill sets might be identified and nurtured by MNCs. Moreover, there have been few comparative studies of the global competencies of MNC managers from developed and developing countries. This paper addresses both of these issues by firstseeking to identify the key components of these global skill sets from the perspectives of a sample of senior managers in US and Indian MNCs and by exploring the role of human resource management (HRM) strategies and policies in nurturing and developing these capabilities. …

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