Magazine article Training & Development Journal

International Joint Ventures and HRD

Magazine article Training & Development Journal

International Joint Ventures and HRD

Article excerpt

International Joint Ventures and HRD

HRD people should plan carefully when their companies consider combining forces with companies in foreign countries for joint business ventures. To rush past the negotiations stage is to court disaster.

HRD distinctions, which are important in domestic programs, become even more crucial when a joint venture involves people not only from different countries but also from different cultures. As defined in Clients & Consultants: Meeting and Exceeding Expectations by C. Bell and L. Nadler, culture comprises the habits and customs people develop to cope with changing conditions.

The variation in cultural norms from country to country should be recognized and understood by HRD people embarking on joint ventures. Conflicts can occur regarding language, customs related to time and space, the prevailing political climate, and the definition of HRD itself. Even seemingly minor cultural differences can have an impact. The key question is this: What is appropriate?

When planning HRD for joint ventures, the usual questions must be asked and answered - but with special attention to cultural differences. Only then can HRD take place in such unique circumstances. The questions to ask: Who will provide HRD? How will HRD be delivered? When and where will HRD occur? And, what does HRD mean to the participants involved?

Defining terms

Initially, all partners must agree on the definitions of HRD or they will run into more than the usual communication problems. The first possible conflict can occur in terminology. Some words just do not translate easily. In Venezuela, for example, there are four different words commonly used to mean "training."

It is essential to start out by defining the term "human resource development" itself, as it has been too loosely applied to a wide variety of activities. At a recent conference in England of the International Federation of Training and Development Organizations, the term HRD was used extensively, but with many meanings that were not always spelled out. Generally, however, the speakers defined HRD as the following: organized learning experiences provided by employers, within specified periods of time, for performance improvement or personal growth.

Who will be responsible for

HRD?

It is important during negotiations and planning that the joint venture partners carefully explore their assumptions about HRD, their perceptions about appropriate HRD, and, perhaps first, which partner will provide HRD>

Is HRD considered a responsibility of the organization or the individual? In the country where the joint venture will be located, is it customary for private organizations to provide HRD or will the government be involved? In the Soviet Union, for example, a joint venture generally sets up its own activities if the organization involves more than 2,000 employees. For fewer than 2,000, it is necessary to work through an appropriate ministry.

Each partner can have its own HRD capability. Each member of the venture may agree to retain its own HRD operation and to provide learning to its own people, as necessary. There may be many reasons for this, including not wanting to share too much information on technology and resources, beyond the joint agreement. New partners, in particular, may be reluctant to share until they have worked together amicably and experienced mutual success.

The partners may not need to share HRD activities. If not, there is no reason to force the issue. But most joint ventures require HRD for one, if not all, partners.

Partners may agree that only one of them will provide HRD for an entire enterprise. Indeed, one partner may enter into a joint venture in order to upgrade its workforce through the HRD efforts of another partner. This motivation was one of the main reasons China welcomed joint ventures in the 1980s. …

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