Human Resources (HR) departments around the world have been substantially transformed under the influence of globalization. The expanding scope of business presupposes global staffing, which necessitates the development of new approaches to HR activities and management practices. Multinational organizations that are willing to operate successfully in the international market have to understand the role of culture in the management of a global workforce (Okoro, 2012). Taking into consideration the fact that the increase of the global grade changes workforce compositions around the world, it is of utter importance to examine how cultural differences influence people-oriented management practices (The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited, 2015).
The aim of this paper is to explore the role of culture in HR management. The paper will also discuss how cultural variations affect recruitment and hiring as well as conflict resolution in global business contexts. It will be argued that HR management practices have to be adjusted to ensure that cultural differences of employees in multinational organizations are accommodated.
The Concept of Culture
Culture refers to shared knowledge that underpins both independent and interdependent aspects of social functioning (Bryan, 2012). In addition to shaping the social behavior of an individual, culture has a bearing on their psychological well-being. A study conducted by Grossi, Blessi, Sacco, and Buscema (2012) shows that employees with high levels of cultural access score positively on the scale of psychological distress. A corollary is that a lack of culturally-related activities can produce unhealthy emotional states in workers. It follows that culture functions as the social and psychological dimensions of personhood.
Culture possess substantial challenges for global HR management due to the need to assimilate diverse value systems, languages, mindsets, and other dimensions of variation. Whereas some of these differences are virtually unnoticeable in the professional space, others can hinder the ability of an organization to achieve its objectives. Therefore, the recruitment, management, and remuneration policies of a company operating in the global business environment have to be developed and implemented in close alignment with unique cultural variations.
There is ample evidence pointing to the fact that a lack of cross-cultural HR management approaches can undermine the quality of subordinate relationships and disrupt even well-meaning organizational policies. For example, the findings of a study conducted by Froese, Peltokorpi, & Ko (2012) suggest that cross-cultural adjustment can put a substantial cognitive strain on employees. The saliency of cultural challenges is underscored by Ugoani (2016) who argues that cultures differ along the following dimensions: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism and collectivism, masculinity and femininity, motivation, anxiety, and exercise of power. Taking into consideration both the depth and breadth of the issue, it can be argued that forward-looking HR managers are obliged to explore all of these dimensions and their implications for professional activities.
Recruitment and Hiring
Culture inevitably influences the process of recruitment and hiring because the sum of idiosyncrasies of individuals from different backgrounds produces different responses to the same stimuli. A failure to recognize the tangential effects of cultural patterns can substantially impact a company’s bottom line (Cancialosi, 2016). Rapidly-growing organizations whose HR managers do not know how to tailor recruitment messages to reach large pools of talented applicants from diverse cultural backgrounds forego millions of dollars in lost opportunities. Therefore, the hiring process has to be designed in such a manner as to recognize, acknowledge, and accommodate cultural differences of applicants. By doing so, multinational enterprises will be able to attract talented employees, reduce attrition rates, and support the attainment of business objectives.
HR managers often function as mediators in supervisor-subordinate and peer conflicts. To resolve conflicts effectively, it is necessary to understand how multicultural employees deal with stress, critique, social tensions, and other negative elements of cultural integration. The understanding of underlying cultural and identity-building drivers, processes, and mechanisms can improve professional dynamics. It is especially important in the light of a study showing that national cultural differences can produce social conflicts, thereby hindering knowledge transfer in companies (Vaara, Sarala, Stahl, & Bjorkman, 2012). Those HR managers who ignore the uniqueness of their employees’ cultural identities can damage the performance of their companies.
Approaches to conflict differ to a great extent between employees from individualistic and collectivist backgrounds. When in conflict, individualists tend to reject compromise. Collectivists, on the other hand, look for common ground between in-group members of a workforce (Stone & Stone-Romero, 2012). For example, workers from East Asia regard their colleagues as in-group members, which prompts them to use compromising approaches to conflict resolution (Stone & Stone-Romero, 2012). Disintegration avoidance is another cultural orientation associated with collectivist cultures that should be understood by HR managers in their workplace conflict resolution endeavors.
The paper has analyzed the role of culture in the context of global HR management. The analytical lenses were focused on recruitment, hiring, and conflict resolution as HR functions that are strongly affected by cultural variations. It has been argued that HR management practices should accommodate cultural pluralism, thereby helping organizations to achieve their strategic goals.
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