Headquarters, Host-Culture and Organizational Influences on HRM Policies and Practices

By Yuen, Edith C.; Kee, Hui Tak | Management International Review, October 1993 | Go to article overview

Headquarters, Host-Culture and Organizational Influences on HRM Policies and Practices


Yuen, Edith C., Kee, Hui Tak, Management International Review


In 1960, Kerr and his co-authors (Kerr, Dunlop, Harbison & Myers, 1960) published "Industrialism and Industrialization" in which he analyzed industrialization from an historical perspective. The authors suggested that as nations embark on the irreversible journey into industrialization, the unifying forces of industrialism such as class movement, bureaucracy and

technology,     would conduce societies towards convergence. While numerous
ideological         alternatives and forms of social organization might

co-exist at the beginning ofindustrialization, during the process of

industrialization, "unrealistic"       ideological alternatives and
"unsuitable" social organizations would be         gradually eliminated
through the accumulation of experience about what is       "realistic". The
end result, as the authors predicted, was the convergence of   industrial

societies, both in ideology and in social organization. The work of Kerr et al. provided the basis for the convergence thesis which was popular in the 1960s and early 70s. However, in the past two decades, the thesishas been overshadowed by the increasing awareness of cultural diversity and

alternative modes of social organization.

While the awareness of cultural and social diversity dated back to the emergenceof anthropology as a discipline, anthropologists tended to attribute differencesin cultural values and social structure to the different stages which different societies were at in the evolution from primitive to modern, industrial society.Underlying this was of course, the ethnocentric assumption that all societies would eventually evolve towards the western model. The emergence of Japan as an economic power challenged the assumption that the western world provides the developmental model for the less developed nations. Japanese values and social structure were strikingly different from those of the west, yet they proved equally conducive to the process of industrialization and economic success. In the past two decades, a massive amount of research has been conducted on Japanese society: its social values; social, economic and industrial structures;management style and practices. In recent years, with the newly industrialised economies of Asia

establishing their presence in the world economy, academies   and practising
managers have come to the awareness that there is not just one   model of
economic development or management. There are different models of      m

anagement and development which can be as successful as the western one.

Parallel to the increasing awareness of cultural differences in management styles and practices is the advance in research on the influences of organizational contingencies (such as size and technology) on organizational structure and processes. Organizational theorists found that certain types of organizations tend to be associated with certain structural characteristics and organizational processes. They hypothesized that this happened because certain structural characteristics were more "appropriate" for certain type of

organization. Hence, it is necessary to match organizational structure/processeswith organizational contingencies in order to attain managerial effectiveness and efficiency.

The above-mentioned theoretical perspectives (convergence, cultural diversity and organizational contingencies) depict three different directions in the development of industrial organizations. The convergence theorists proposed the convergence of ideologies and social organizations across social and

cultural   boundaries. Organizational theorists suggested that organizations
operating     under different organizational contingencies are likely to
develop different    structural characteristics and organizational processes.
They expected the      influences of organizational contingencies to cut
across social and cultural    boundaries. … 

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