This book is intended to combine insights from the latest theoretical thinking in the area of internal human resource management (IHRM) and strategic human resource management (SHRM) - two fields that are rapidly converging in their focus - with our own research data. The concept for the book can be traced back to a research call from the UK/Irish CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). They appreciated that a growing number of HR practitioners were now operating in an international context and wanted to understand what the impact of globalization was on the role of these professionals. Was the activity of HR practitioners at the international level any more strategic than the corporate activity that they carried out at the domestic level? What models and frameworks should be used to guide their activity in this area? There were a number of competing bids of which two came to the fore. One of these bids concentrated on the insights that should be gleaned by looking at the activities of the international HR function and the conduct of quantitative comparative surveys. The other concentrated on the conduct of longitudinal case-study analysis to track the evolving role of HR practitioners as they worked on the global stage within their organizations. In their wisdom, the CIPD saw the merits of both proposals and asked if we could not combine our resources and methods and design a study that would help inform the HR community about this important aspect of their work. Thereby began a collaboration that has taught us all much about the field of IHRM. We set about this task in the knowledge that we needed to marshal both a wide range of theory, academic and practitioner writing whilst also building up a picture of the emerging role of HR practitioners that would be accessible and useful to them in their everyday work. The final structure of this book says much about the way that practitioners now see and explain their role.
We begin the book as always by explaining the important messages that emerge when we consider the context for the work of international HR. These messages in effect represent the usual caveats and "health warnings" that one must signal before moving on to describe some of the more advanced and innovative practices that can be found. The first important aspect of context is the process of globalization itself. This is an ongoing process, tied up in the strands of history, economic imperatives, institutional constraints and ultimately very much dependent on the actions of organizations and the perceptions of individuals. We outline the competing sources of data or evidence that