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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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Cultural training

 Cultural training

Human resource managers have a considerable role to play in preparing staff for work overseas. Given the range and sensitivity of cultural differences (...) it is clear that people working in an international context can benefit from tuition in the business customs and social manners of the countries they will work in. HR managers can play a major part in developing programmes for sales and other staff whose behaviour must be fully acceptable in target countries.(...) training can encompass language, social behaviour, local business, structure and practice, and table etiquette.

 Non-verbal behaviour

(...) the most critical area is that of non-verbal behaviour. Stories abound of contracts being lost because of inappropriate expressions, overeagerness, unacceptable familiarity and general insensitivity. Argyle details a number os jey behavioural features: proximity, touch and gaze; expressiveness; gestures; accompaniments of speech; symbolic self-presentation; rituals. These are explained in this section of Human Resource Management in a Business Context

Read: Do Your Employees Need Intercultural Services? by Gary M. Wederspahn.

 Customs or rules

The way in which business is conducted is conditioned by historical practice and different concepts of morality. Some key issues include: bribery, nepotism, gifts, buying and selling, eating and drinking, rules about time.


The use of language has critical implications. For example, in appraisal feedback meetings or interviews people managers must be aware of cultural differences covering:

Directness Westerners may begin an informal meeting with a joke (well, some of us might). At this stage in a Japanese relationship such familiarity would be regarded as extremely offensive, expecting formality until each other's status and authority are clearly understood.

Politeness All cultures employ polite forms of address which are expected in particular circumstances(...) Politeness is socially supportive behaviour which maintains harmony and respect between individuals (...)

 National and organizational cultures

This section of Human Resource Management in a Business Context provides an extensive discussion of specific contributions to cross-cultural understanding, including the classic research conducted by Hofstede. He compared several thousand IBM employees in over 50 countries using attitude questionnaires. He found significant differences between employees in one country and another, despite their similar jobs and membership of an organization which is renowned for its strong corporate culture. He identified 4 main dimensions:

Power distance - how marked are the status differences between people with high and low power.

Collectivism versus individualism - is a culture focused on individuals or groups?

Masculinity versus feminity - Hofstede rated aggressiveness (level of individual assertiveness and competition) as masculinity.

Uncertainty avoidance - a measure of flexibility and need for rules.

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