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International joint ventures: the strategic human resource management dimension Cyr, Dianne J.

Abstract

International joint ventures are frequently a response to external pressures placed on globally-oriented companies if they are to survive and compete successfully. Within the international context, a critical element to corporate competitiveness is the effective management of human resources. Despite this reality, very little research to date examines the strategic Human Resource Management (HRM) dimension in international joint ventures. In this investigation, strategic HRM refers to communication systems, staffing, reward and recognition, training, and performance appraisal systems which operate within four successful joint venture (JV) firms. All joint ventures have been formed between two international partners, each from a different national culture. Three of the companies are 50/50 ownership arrangements, while the fourth venture has a 60/40 ownership split between the partners. All four ventures are in the manufacturing sector, although indifferent market niches. In each case, managers in the joint ventures focus on total quality management and high employee involvement in order to enhance product quality and innovation, and to create a more satisfying environment in which employees can contribute to the organization. Collectively, these joint ventures provide an interesting window through which to view strategic HRM operations. In addition to the description of Human Resource policy and practice, the research pursues an understanding of the more evasive questions as to how and why HRM operates as it does. Issues which evolved from the research and are important to a fuller comprehension of HRM in international joint ventures include, among others: the management of the JV-parent relationship; how HRM policy and practice supports or limits parent and JV strategic objectives; the select influence which national culture has on HRM; how corporate culture develops in the JV related to parent influences and JV managerial contributions; and finally, how organizational learning operates at both strategic and tactical levels in each venture.

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