Globalizing Human Resource Management

By Paul Sparrow; Chris Brewster et al. | Go to book overview
5
Knowledge management and global expertise networks

Introduction
In the last chapter we noted the current opportunity afforded to the international HRM function in helping to build organizational capability. Perhaps the most critical component in terms of international HR positioning lies in its role as knowledge management champion. Thirty-nine percent of the sixty-four organizations in the CIPD study saw knowledge management as a key driver of their organization's strategy (Brewster et al., 2002). It was also a central element of the international HR strategy - what we would call a key delivery mechanism - for 45 percent of the sample. This was the one issue that received more attention in international HR strategies than in the organizational strategy. Moreover, 25 percent of the sample saw the creation of centers of excellence on a global basis as a central part of their international HR strategy. As we shall see in the opening sections in which we present the main theories, frameworks and ideas in the field, these data are in line with current strategic thinking. We outline the latest ideas in five areas, and then go on to examine actual practice. The five areas are as follows:
1 the role that expatriates, IJVs and mergers and acquisitions play in the transfer of knowledge on a global basis;
2 the reasons why HR practices themselves are expected to be transferred globally;
3 models of the factors that lead to successful transfer (or not) of HR practices;
4 the nature of HR knowledge that needs to be transferred from one international HR practitioner to another; and
5 some general lessons from the fields of organizational learning and knowledge management as to how such knowledge transfer can be facilitated.

We shall see that the creation of shared knowledge bases represents an important integration activity to which international HR functions can contribute. Gratton (2003) calls this intellectual integration. However, despite the attention paid to knowledge management, "to date there is yet to be a significant undertaking that looks at issues in managing knowledge across borders" (Desouza and Evaristo, 2003:62). We respond to this challenge by looking at the role that knowledge transfer plays in the work of international HR managers. Having outlined the main frameworks, theories and models,

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