Pawan S. Budhwar and Yaw A. Debrah
This chapter, first of all, provides the reader with a brief overview of the developments in the field of human resource management (HRM). Second, it highlights the need to understand HRM in developing countries. Third, it introduces a framework for conducting cross-national HRM evaluations and, finally, it presents the structure of the book and introduces each of the chapters.
The developments in the field of HRM are now well documented (see for example, Legge, 1995; Poole, 1999; Poole and Warner, 1998; Schuler and Jackson, 1999; Sisson and Storey, 2000). Nevertheless, the debate on HRM issues continues even though its focus has changed over time. The main issue which occupied academics in the 1980s was the evolution of HRM. In this regard, the debate was mainly on the exploration of the salient aspects of the transformation of personnel management into HRM. Having done so, it moved on to issues pertaining to the incorporation of industrial relations into HRM (Guest, 1991); then the integration of HRM into business strategies, devolvement of HRM to line managers (Brewster et al., 1997; Budhwar and Sparrow, 1997), and finally seeing HRM as a source of competitive advantage for organisations (see, for example, Barney, 1991; Schuler and MacMillan, 1984; Wright et al., 1994). Currently, there is an ongoing debate regarding the contribution of HRM to a firm’s performance (Guest, 1997; Huselid, 1995; MacDuffie, 1995; Schuler and Jackson, 1999). With these developments the nature of Human Resource (HR) function has changed from being reactive, prescriptive, and administrative to being proactive, descriptive and executive (Boxall, 1994).
While some seminal HRM research findings have been produced in recent years, research has often been based on a single country or the researchers look at issues in Western Europe or North America. Essentially, these studies have focused on HRM in advanced industrial societies in the West. As relatively very little work on comparative HRM research in developing countries has been done, some researchers have suggested the need for more comparative cross-national