Human Resource Management is an important part of this global trend. Not too many years ago, M.B.A. graduates were simply required to have a basic level of understanding of a single HRM system located within their own country. Today, business leaders must deal with a complex international HRM environment where a company’s personnel practices are often shaped by the culture of the country, the corporate expectations of its citizens and the role that a country’s public sector agencies play in determining private sector outcomes (Briscoe &Schuler, 2008).
Much of the literature on HRM in European firms attempts to determine if HRM policies and practices across Western Europe are converging or diverging. Those who support the convergent approach argue that HRM systems in European democratic polities share much in common and that a European model of HRM has emerged particularly since the advent of the European Union. Proponents of the divergent approach contend that Europe is comprised of many different cultures, social and political institutions, languages and economic systems andd that a unitary model of HRM is impossible to achieve even within the context of the EU (Brewster, 2007). This convergent-divergent dichotomy serves as a useful theoretical framework for this paper. Through the examination of the recent literature on international HRM in European businesses, the paper argues that existing HRM practices in Europe tend to be more representative of the divergent end of the HRM policy continuum. It concludes with a discussion of some of the ramifications that a divergent HRM policy environment has for the future of economic prosperity in the European Union.
In a 2009 comprehensive analysis of human resource practices in Europe, Mayrhoefer and Brewster developed an empirical model that allows for comparisons of HRM systems and practices within European countries.