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Human Resource Management in a Business Context

Human Resource Management in a Business Context, 3rd edition
by Alan Price
 Human Resource Management in a Business Context provides an international focus on the theory and practice of people management. A thorough and comprehensive overview of all the key aspects of HRM, including articles from HRM Guide and other sources, key concepts, review questions and case studies for discussion and analysis.
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International cultures

 Cultures and standards

We take our own culture for granted. In fact, we are scarcely aware of it until we interact with another. Each culture has a worldview: a set of values and beliefs. This is meaningful to its members but alien to others. As a consequence, we look at people from other cultures, see that their ways are different and often dislike these ways.

Employees who have cross-border responsibilities and/or cross-cultural relationships need to be prepared to effectively handle the inevitable intercultural tasks and challenges involved. Read:
Do Your Employees Need Intercultural Services? by Gary M. Wederspahn

  Cultural variety

(...) there are differences not only between cultures but also within cultures. For example, Australian culture can be identified with that of the majority Anglo-Celtic population; but the nation's culture also encompasses a number of distinctive subcultures.

Hofstede argues that an individual's culture may have several levels: (1) national; (2) regional, ethnic, religious, linguistic; (3) gender; (4) generation; (5) social class; (6) organizational.

We can see readily that this mixture provides an intriguing cocktail for a selector to attempt to disentangle; for a performance assessor to misunderstand; a management developer to 'correct'. All in all, there is massive scope for a clash of cultures - and prejudices. (...)

  The perception of time

This section of Human Resource Management in a Business Context consider some differences regarding the perception of time in different cultures. We all have in-built standards, the origins of which we rarely question and which we interpret as 'normal'. This has profound implications for people management at the global level.

Triandis pinpoints the perception of time as one element of cultural complexity. He argues that different cultures have different attitudes towards time. Time-keeping is treated tolerantly in underdeveloped societies - with few things to do, one can do them in any order. But in industrialized countries there are many thigs to do and they must be co-ordinated with other people. Hence, time becomes more important and is regarded as something precise and highly significant.

Another significant time characteristic is that of short- or long-term orientation. Typically, East Asians are considered to have a longer time perspective than nationals of many other regions (...)


Triandis also relates cultural complexity to the way we define our working and other roles. In complex societies roles become increasingly specific - compartmentalized into separate mental boxes. We can be finance managers, parents and social club officials, and behave differently in each role. In less complex societies, on the other hand, roles are diffuse, affecting every aspect of people's lives. Religion, politics and matters of taste are important in diffuse cultures. They are less important in role-specific cultures. Developed countries tend to be role-specific, avoiding role confusion.

Theory and best practice in key HRM areas such as selection, performance measurement and development assume an equal opportunities approach in which people are dealt without favour or prejudice. However, this notion is alien to diffuse-role cultures, in which it is natural to favour members of one's own family or community. (...)

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