IHRM Literature Review Requirements
The area that interests me is international human resource management (IHRM).
- Read the definition of literature review below and, preferably, read further definitions and several examples of literature review in areas that interest you.
What is a literature review?
A literature review discusses published information in a particular subject area. A literature review usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information.
Source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved January 15th 2011 from: https://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/literature_review.html
- Consult two collections of literature (a) Emirati Culture; and b) International HR Management (IHRM). You are expected to refer to academic books, journals and conference proceedings, and to select highly relevant chapters or articles. There is no limit to the number of texts you may refer to, but you are unlikely to be able to provide a thorough answer by referring to fewer than 5 sources of academic journals in total. Sources should include several that are relatively current i.e. written within the last 12 years. You will find others that are older than this but very useful and this is acceptable providing you have included several that are more current.
- Synthesize the ideas in the literature, focusing on those ideas that help to answer the question as stated.
- Provide evidence from the literature in support of your argument by quoting and paraphrasing appropriately.
- Use APA referencing standards and provide a correctly formatted reference list at the end of your work. This site offers an online tutorial, reminding you how to use APA: https://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/citation.html
- Organise your work to include:
a. an introduction or background information section, to include a definition of the key terms you will use in your writing
b. main section with suitable headings and subheadings, in which you discuss the themes in your sources that are relevant to the question
c. main section in which the themes in the sources are related to your immediate professional context, with specific examples to illustrate your points
d. a conclusion/recommendation section, in which you a) draw on what you have learned to make appropriate recommendations for your instructor or workplace managers and b) suggest suitable areas for further research.
- Write no more than 3000 words excluding your reference list and supply a hard copy by a date to be advised
International Human Resource Management (IHRM) in the United Arab Emirates
Human resource management (HRM) can be defined as “a strategic coherent approach to the management of an organization’s most valued assets – the people working there who individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of its objectives.” (Armstrong, 2007, p. 3).The field of international human resource management (IHRM) broadly covers all the issues related to the management of people in an international context (Dowling, Festing, & Engle, 2008). It entails a wide range of human resource issues facing multinational corporations (MNCs) in different parts of their organizations. IHRM will typically involve more HR activities, a broader perspective, greater risk exposure and broader external influences compared domestic HRM. Some of the major factors that influence IHRM include culture, legislation, economic conditions, competition, employee relationships, training and development. The focus of this literature review is culture, which is one of the most important aspects of IHRM.
Hofstede (1991 in Cerimagic, 2010) defined culture as a group’s response to its social environment. It is manifested through people’s values, beliefs and behaviour patterns. According to Briscoe, Schuler, & Tarique (2012), cultural differences influence international business activities such as cross-national negotiations, sales interactions between people from different countries, management of the performance of employees from different countries, the understanding and treatment of contracts between firms from different countries and all HR responsibilities such as recruiting and hiring, compensation, training, labour relations and performance management. Dowling, Festing, & Engle (2008) have pointed out that culturally insensitive attitudes and behaviours stemming from ignorance or from misguided beliefs are not only inappropriate but also cause international business failure. It is a common misconception among expatriate managers that the human resource strategies adopted in their home countries can also be imposed on their subsidiaries in host countries overseas (James & McManus, 2011). Moreover, because some of these strategies have produced remarkable results in their home countries, they believe that they are the best or even superior to the local strategies in the host countries. Cultural awareness plays a central role in successful IHRM. It is however very challenging to cope with cultural differences and recognise how and when these differences are relevant. Expatriate managers should therefore carry out extensive research on the cultures of the host countries and the influence of these cultures on the behaviour of employees at the workplace.
Perhaps the major difference between UAE culture and western culture is the role of women in society. For this reason, many researchers have investigated how the UAE culture has influenced women’s perspective towards different aspects of the work place and how societal attitudes towards women have influenced their participation in the labour market (Gallant & Pounder, 2008 ; Neal, Finlay, & Tansey, 2005; James & McManus, 2011; Bennett & Wright, 2010). Owing to the UAE’s overreliance on expatriate workers a bulk of research has also been conducted to determine the impact of the UAE culture on different aspects of IHRM (Neal, 2010; Randeree & Chaudhry, 2012 ; Al-Waqfi & Forstenlechner, 2010 ; Al-Jenaibi, 2011; Butler, 2009). This review is a critical analysis of the research literature in these two fields and their findings.
2.0 UAE Culture
The United Arab Emirates is an oil-rich Arab country with a rapidly growing economy, which has attracted several multinational corporations. The country predominantly practices the Islamic religion, which has had a very huge impact on its culture. The government does not prohibit the practice of other religions. However, it restricts their spread through any form of media. For this reason, the UAE Islamic culture has remained largely intact and widespread in the country. The UAE culture is characterised by patriarchal societies that empathize the domestic role women as opposed to their role as economic agents. This poses a major challenge to workplace dynamic in most organisations in the UAE. The culture also restricts the free interaction of men and women and places great importance on decent dressing. Other religions in the country such as Hindu bear numerous similarities to Islam. For instance, Hindu also emphasizes the domestic role of women in the society and decent dressing. Generally, the major difference between the UAE and other cultures relates to gender roles.
Apart from gender roles, workers in the UAE are generally negatively predisposed to private sector jobs. Most UAE nationals pursue public sector jobs, which offer higher salaries, better employment conditions, greater job security and flexible working hours (Al-Waqfi & Forstenlechner, 2010 ). Additionally, some jobs are considered unsuitable for UAE citizens. Employees in the country particularly have a negative attitude towards jobs that are physically demanding and therefore prefer to remain unemployed than to seek for ‘demeaning’ jobs. This problem is compounded by the fact that some of the employees do not qualify for the very jobs they consider to be demeaning. As a result, Multinational corporations have had to hire under-qualified employees in order to meet quota requirements imposed by the government.
2.1 Participation of Women in the UAE Labour Market
Hijab (1988 in Gallant & Pounder, 2008) identified three critical factors that influence the participation of women in paid employment in any society. These include the presence of supportive legislation, facilities and attitudes towards their participation in employment, acquisition of relevant education and skills required by the job market and the society’s perspective of the need to have women in the nation’s workforce. The UAE government supports the employment of women through the provision of fully subsidised learning opportunities, maternity leave, and public statements that encourage the participation of women in the labour market.
The Arab world has traditionally been stereotyped to repress the rights of women, their access to education and participation in the job market. Neal, Finlay, & Tansey (2005) however pointed out, the number of women entering the workplace in the UAE and other Arab countries is rising every year and that in most cases women have equal access to education from primary through to tertiary levels. Moreover, they have been observed to outperform men in all the levels. Additionally, Arab cultures have historically been comfortable with women yielding power and authority. In fact, women are allowed to participate in the labour market so long as their participation does not impede their ability to carry out their female roles in the family setting and the society in general. Gallant & Pounder (2008) also agree that despite the low level of women’s participation in the labour force, the legislative and societal environment in UAE favour the participation of women paid employment.
It is however worth noting that the historical experiences of women in Arab countries significantly differ from the experiences of women in other Western countries. In the past, most Arab societies have restricted the interaction of women in public and as such, their work activities have been carried out in exclusively female circumstances (Neal, Finlay, & Tansey, 2005). The growing trend of women interacting freely with men has therefore created a lot of social unrest. This culture is evidenced in educational institutions including Universities, which are segregated by gender arguably inhibiting classroom dynamics (Gallant & Pounder, 2008 ). Furthermore, some courses such as mechanical engineering are not offered to female students. This segregation has negative impacts in institutions of higher learning because it reduces the economic viability of offering some courses, a scenario that would have been avoided if both genders were allowed to share the same facilities. Male students are for instance restricted from taking some courses such as information administration at government tertiary institutions due to lack of critical numbers, faculty members and specialized facilities. Mixed gender classes are only offered through online facilities, which do not involve any physical contact.
Bennett & Wright (2010) identified significant differences between female Arab students who attended single gender and single nationality universities and those that attended co-educational, mixed nationality universalities. These differences include individual behaviours and attitudes towards teamwork. Female students from single sex universities generally performed better in homogeneous teams and developed a positive attitude towards teamwork. Homogeneous teams were however more prevalent to satisficing behaviour which resulted in poor performance because several team members withheld their views in order to accommodate the views of others. This implies that most female employees in the UAE experience challenges coping in multicultural and mixed gender working environments.
2.2 Marriage and Childbearing Age
Another important determinant of women’s participation in the work place is marriage and childbearing age. Whereas women in western countries including the UK marry in their late 20’s, most Arab women get married before they even 20 years old. Consequently, women’s childbearing age in Arab countries is significantly lower than that of their counterparts in western countries. Furthermore, Arab women generally have more children than women in western countries. While it is perfectly normal to have more ten children in an Arab family, European families prefer to have not more than three children. Married women in Arab societies, especially those with many children are restricted from participating actively in the labour market and rising to positions of power and authority. The tenure of young women in the labour market is therefore influenced by the age at which they marry and start bearing children. Young, single female employees generally stand a better chance to have a fruitful career compared to those who get married at a tender age.
Neal, Finlay, & Tansey (2005) have observed that there has been a decline of family size and an increase in marriage and childbearing age the UAE due to modernization. These three trends are particularly predominant in the middle and upper class societies from which business leaders primarily emerge. Similar demographic shifts were observed with the modernization of western cultures. These shifts have resulted in an in increase in female employees and business leaders at all levels in the Arab society. Notwithstanding, there is still an aspect of female segregation and gender based discrimination at the work place.
3.0 International Human Resource Management (IHRM)
The success IHRM is determined by the ability to manage diverse cultures in foreign countries. The major issues in IHRM include international employment law, labour standards and ethics, international employee relations, workforce planning and staffing, recruitment selection and repatriation, training and development, remuneration and management of employee performance (Briscoe, Schuler, & Tarique, 2012). These issues are majorly influenced by the national and cultural values of the host countries. The common types of globalisation strategies for multinational corporations include outsourcing, franchising and foreign direct investment (FDI). In the case of outsourcing and franchising most if not all of the business activities in the host country are performed the foreign nationals and there is often minimal interference from the parent company. This is because these strategies majorly characterised by contracts between a parent company and a foreign company involving no alternation in the management and control of the latter.
FDI on the other hand entails substantial changes in the management and control of foreign companies, FDI can result from expansion of a company’s operations into foreign markets, international mergers and acquisitions, international joint ventures and international strategic alliances. Where a company decides to expand its operations in foreign countries, it will more often than not prefer to maintain its management style and organisational culture in its subsidiaries. Consequently, the management personnel of the foreign subsidiaries will in most cases originate from the home country of the parent company. Even though the entire management personnel might not be altered for mergers and acquisitions, joint venture and strategic alliances, the investing company is often represented by a manager or two or exercises a certain degree of control in the foreign company. Regardless of the globalisation strategy, where a company decides to assume control of a foreign company, several challenges are bound to occur due to cultural differences.
According to a study conducted by Barhem, Younies, & Smith (2011) to rank the future global manager characteristics and knowledge requirements for UAE business managers, specific knowledge of overseas culture was ranked as the second most important trait of an international manager after the strong desire to go overseas. Other important traits identified by the study include the ability to adapt to time differences, overseas experience and the ability to deal with expatriate work assignments. Managers in the UAE perceived that the most important skills required by future global managers include “computer skills, communication skills, knowledge of worldwide networks and contacts, knowledge of home culture, and the ability to understand cultural dynamics.” (247). All these skills translate to effective leadership and management, which in turn contribute to effective HRM. Research carried out by Randeree & Chaudhry (2012) in the UAE construction sector revealed that consultative and consensus leadership styles contribute to job satisfaction and employee commitment. This reiterates the importance of effective leadership and management practices in IHRM. Other major concerns of IHRM include that have been featured in the research literature in the UAE include recruitment and selection and performance management.
3.1 Leadership and Management styles
The impact of leadership and management styles on organisational performance has been widely researched in the UAE (Butler, 2009; Randeree & Chaudhry, 2012 ; Cerimagic, 2010 ). Many research findings indicate that people oriented leadership and management styles are the most effective in achieving high levels of performance in MNCs. However, this is easier said than done. First, in order to implement people-oriented management styles successfully, managers need to have a good understanding of cultural aspect of the employees within the organisation. Secondly, these styles vary significantly among different cultures implying that leadership is culturally determined. Furthermore, studies have revealed that “there are not only differences in the styles preferred by followers in different cultures, but the specific behaviours, which reflect these styles, may vary from culture to culture.” (Randeree & Chaudhry, 2012 , p. 63). This implies that actions taken in good faith by expatriate managers in foreign countries might be perceived negatively by the employees.
3.2 Recruitment and Selection
Recruitment and selection helps multinational organisations to identify and employ qualified personnel to facilitate the achievement of their goals and objectives. A skilled workforce is a vital source of competitive advantage for multinational enterprises. Acquiring a skilled workforce is however very difficult especially in foreign countries due to different attitudes of employees towards work and varied legal and economic environments. In many oil-rich Arabian Gulf economies, there are very low levels of citizen’s workforce participation (Al-Waqfi & Forstenlechner, 2010 ). This is because many multinational enterprises prefer imported cheap labour to locally available employees who demand relatively higher wages. On the other hand, the employees also prefer public sector employment, which offers higher salaries, better employment conditions, greater job security and often, shorter working hours. Over the last decades, the public sector has had the capacity to curb unemployment because there were more public sector positions that there were job seekers. However, in recent years there has been a sharp increase in job seekers looking for public sector jobs, which has led to an increase in voluntary unemployment and severe underemployment of public servants.
Because of the high rate of voluntary unemployment, there has been an increasing need for UAE nationals to seek for job from private sector MNCs. However, unlike the public sector which offers lucrative opportunities that are relatively less demanding, the private sector enterprises are subject to economic constraints and as such require more input from employees at lower wage rates in order to compete favourably in the global market. In a bid to encourage the participation of job seekers in private sector employment, the government has imposed rules and regulations to MNCs to ensure that they absorb unemployed job seekers at more or less the same rates offered by the public sector. As a result, they have been forced to hire under-qualified at employees at very high wage rates.
3.3 Management of Performance
Behery & Paton (2008) emphasize the importance of aligning culture with performance appraisal to meet stakeholder expectations. They contend national culture has a great influence on organisational culture, which in turn plays a critical role in determining the overall performance of an organisation. Performance appraisal is perhaps the most important determinant of employee behaviour. It therefore plays a very important role in shaping and maintaining organisational health. In order to come up with effective performance appraisal initiatives, managers should have a good understanding of the employees’ individual cultural backgrounds. This helps to determine whether the techniques being applied to appraise the employees are socially acceptable. Moreover, knowledge of employees’ cultural background provides valuable insights into the employees’ core values and hence facilitates the formulation effective strategies to enhance origination culture. Apart from performance appraisal, Jabnoun & Sedrani (2005) pointed that total quality management in UAE manufacturing firms is directly influenced by organisational culture. The quality of output will therefore be influenced by the management’s ability to comprehend and leverage cultural differences to produce high quality output.
culture and individual employees’ cultural backgrounds have a great influence
on International human resource management. Expatriate managers should there
have good knowledge and understanding of foreign cultures and make deliberate
efforts to integrate them in multinational corporations. In so doing, they will
be in a position to leverage cultural differences to motivate employees to
achieve the goals and objectives of the organisation. The UAE culture is very
different from western culture especially in relation to gender roles. Managers
in the UAE should appreciate the factors influence the participation of women
in the labour market. This will help them to determine how to recruit female
employees and how to motivate them. They should also have a general
understanding of the UAE culture in order to facilitate effective human
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Al-Waqfi, M., & Forstenlechner, I. (2010 ). Stereotyping of citizens in an expatriate-dominated labour market Implications for workforce localisation policy. Employee Relations , 364-381.
Armstrong, M. (2007). A handbook of human resource management practice. London: Kogan Page.
Barhem, B., Younies, H., & Smith, P. C. (2011). Ranking the future global manager characteristics and knowledge requirements according to UAE business managers’ opinions. Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues , 229-247.
Behery, M. H., & Paton, R. A. (2008 ). Performance appraisal-cultural fit: organizational outcomes within the UAE . Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues , 26-33.
Bennett, H., & Wright, N. S. (2010). Female Emirati graduates and the multicultural, mixed gender workplace: The impact of educational experiences on female students’ team-related behaviours, skills, values and attitudes within the Gulf region . Team Performance Management , 267-288.
Briscoe, D., Schuler, R., & Tarique, I. (2012). International human resource management. New York: Routledge.
Butler, C. (2009). Leadership in a multicultural Arab organisation. Leadership & Organization Development Journal , 139-151.
Cerimagic, S. (2010 ). Influence of culture on project practices Insights from Australian project managers in UAE. Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues , 277-288.
Dowling, P., Festing, M., & Engle, A. D. (2008). International human resource management: managing people in a multinational context. London : Thomson Learning.
Gallant, M., & Pounder, J. S. (2008 ). The employment of female nationals in the United Arab Emirates (UAE): An analysis of opportunities and barriers . Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern , 26-33.
Jabnoun, N., & Sedrani, K. (2005 ). TQM, Culture, and Performance in UAE Manufacturing Firms . The Quality Management Journal , 8-20.
James, W., & McManus, L. (2011). An Empirical Study of the Influence of Mentors and Organisational Climate on the Ethical Attitudes and DecisionMaking of National Female Business Graduates in the United Arab Emirates . Journal of Business Ethics Education , 31-54.
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Randeree, K., & Chaudhry, A. G. (2012 ). Leadership – style, satisfaction and commitment An exploration in the United Arab Emirates’ construction sector. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management , 61-85.