Globalization and Human Resource Management:
Adapting Successful UN Practices for the Private and Public Sectors

Fatima Fernandez

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December 2004
300 pp. (paper)
ISBN: 0-9664286-8-4



New challenges brought about by globalization continue to change the role of human resource management (HRM), creating an opportunity for us to consider where we are today, the direction we are going, and what we need to do to get there. Consequently, there is a need to reexamine how HR policies can best support the rapid and continuous advancement of globalization. The HR function must change from the traditional set of clerical administrative tasks to become an integral part of strategy making and gaining competitive advantage.

Transnational organizations cannot take time to train top executives in multilingual skills, experience, and global vision. Developing multicultural organizations is, therefore, the next logical step to more effective competition in the global market place. In recent years, many multi- and transnational companies (MNCs/TNCs) in the private sector have changed their HR strategies from ethnocentric to polycentric and to geocentric. The United Nations has followed the geocentric model since its inception, in keeping with UN statutes. The simplicity, clarity, and uniformity of the UN model have now become immensely appealing to the private sector.

Over decades, the UN has developed a well-functioning HR system for a multicultural staff environment, both at headquarters and in its field operations. HRM of the inpatriate concept is one of the most remarkable success stories of the UN. Yet, this is virtually unknown to the private sector or the general public. By analyzing the reasons that have led to its success, it becomes clear the inpatriate model is a winner and can be transplanted to the private sector. The implications are straightforward and will have practical impact. In particular, the experience gained from the diverse multicultural backgrounds in the working environment develops tolerance for all races, awareness of differences, and appreciation of cultures, all of which are vital to expatriate success rates, creating a win-winn situation.

This book analyzes the research done on MNCs/TNCs, compares HR strategies and practices of the UN system to those of the private sector, and shows how these can be modified to suit the objectives of both the private and public sectors.

Part I of the book begins with the history of globalization that has lead to the transformation of TNCs and the need for HR specialists to reexamine how policies can best address the rapid and continuous advancement of globalization. It further introduces the main aspects of HRM and the roles of the HR function and HR specialists.

Part II reviews key HRM processes, provides conceptual frameworks for the private and public sectors. It examine strategic HRM, staffing and compensation, training, career and performance management, and strategic planning. HR leaders must play an increasingly important role as a value-added function in organizations. The conclusions are based on best practices and lead to recommendations for improved global HRM in both the private and public sectors.

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