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The Role of Human Resources in Globalization

by Suleman
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Introduction

Globalization has made a lot of changes in the way that people do business today. Gone are the days when people, products, and services rely on their country of origin. Because of globalization, companies can set up their operations offshore. The term for this is outsourcing. Outsourcing means that a company or organization will be set up abroad to be manned by locally trained staff while ensuring that the products or services still meet the same quality standards, such as when before it was outsourced (Doye, 2002).

Outsourcing multi-national companies in countries such as Turkey and Albaijanan means job opportunities for residents. This is good for the local economy because it not only provides jobs but revenues for the local government in terms of taxes and trade. The company also benefits the outsourcing structure because it can maximize its production costs. Human resources employed by these multi-national countries must also adapt to meet business needs ( Doye, 2002).

The Role of Human Resources in Globalization

When a company is outsourced, either a qualified resident or an expatriate is brought in to conduct training and set up the company abroad. During the setup, the company may need to work with local headhunters to fill in the workforce need. These local headhunters work hand in hand with the company’s existing human resource officers to put together contracts and job offers to ensure that what they will be offering is competitive in the existing job market ( Wittingslow, n.d.).

But one possible problem these companies may face is the question of cross-cultural diversity in the workplace. When outsourcing their operations, these multi-national companies have a set of human resource policies already in place. These may be tailored a bit to comply with the local labor laws, but the host country’s culture, for example, the United Kingdom, will still be prevalent in the workplace ( Wittingslow, n.d.).

The following paper discusses cross-cultural diversity problems. In countries like Turkey, where many traditions and cultures may vary with that of the western world, we will discuss if these cross-cultural issues are being accepted or challenged with local human resources. The paper will also deal with issues and possible solutions about cultural diversity in the workplace, such as making changes for managers by human resources (Wittingslow, n.d.)

Two facets of the workplace are protected by human resources. One among them is the creation of workforce policies that are compliant with the existing labor laws. Human resource officers also conduct the screening and recruitment of possible candidates that can fill the vacant positions in the workforce (Wittingslow, n.d.).

Human resources can also implement or recommend training needed by employees to make them more capable of doing their tasks. It may sound like too much responsibility for human resource officers. With these policies, they can ensure that their existing workforce and managers can work hand in hand and make a profit for the company (O’Reilly et al., 1996).

Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions

There are five cultural dimensions, according to Geert Hofstede. These cultural dimensions make up the relationship between managers and their employees in the workplace. This is vital information for a human resource officer. With these dimensions, they will be able to tailor their workforce policies according to the region where they will be working (Guneri et al., 2009).

The five cultural dimensions, according to Geert Hofstede, are:

  • Power distancing index (66)
  • Individualism (37)
  • Masculinity (45)
  • Uncertainty avoidance index (85)
  • Long-term orientation

The number in the brackets corresponds to Turkey’s scores in these dimensions and how they affect the course of human resource policies in the workplace. Among the five cultural dimensions, Turkey can be classified as a high power distancing country and uncertainty avoidance. These scores can be based on the country’s culture, which is predominantly Muslim. It also because of this culture that makes its leaders have full authority over-rules and laws ( Guneri et al., 2009).

Each cultural dimension affects human resource policies; some may have more meaning or importance than the others. Even with globalization and the setup of multi-national companies overseas, it is evident that the human resource procedures prevalent in that country will still be dominant (O’Reilly et al., 1996). The group posed questions regarding if any of these cross-cultural dimensions will affect human resource policies that we would be implementing if we set up a multi-national organization whose home base is the United Kingdom.

For the United Kingdom, they scored the following numbers with Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions:

  • Power distancing index (35)
  • Individualism (89)
  • Masculinity (66)
  • Uncertainty avoidance index (35)
  • Long-term orientation (25)

As seen in the following scores, Britain scored 35 in the power distancing index. This means that in the workplace, there is a semi-casual relationship between managers and their subordinates. They also score high in individualism, meaning that the British workplace culture promotes and gives importance to individual achievements rather than team efforts. For uncertainty avoidance, they scored low also, meaning that they are flexible to change. For masculinity, the score is almost at the midpoint, meaning that even though gender equality is recognized, there may be discrimination between sexes in the workplace ( Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions, n.d.).

With these given factors, human resource officers can assess where they need to make adjustments when dealing with a culturally diverse team. Our group is comprised of Turkey and Albajianan students. Both of these countries are predominantly Muslim countries, but we also have differences in culture and tradition. Many of our traditions and cultures may clash with those of the Western world. It may even be deemed discriminatory for certain traditions that comprise our culture and heritage (Guneri, 2009).

Being a Muslim country, its religion may not be at fault because of these discriminations. Westerners who are to set up organizations in these countries should respect their culture and tradition. Many issues may arise about policy implementation, but to make sure that both countries will benefit in terms of trade, each one should adjust to adapt to each one’s culture and tradition (O’Reilly et al., 1996).

The questions raised among our group for this issue are the following concerning Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions:

  • What would be the implications of cultural diversity in our workplace?
  • How far would we adjust our human resource policies to align it with our organization’s host country, which is the United Kingdom?
  • Turkey, being the country where we choose to set the organization, is a Muslim country but has a different view on religion in the workplace than other predominantly Muslim countries. What steps should our group adapt to ensure that we can provide a workplace free of such discriminations?

Turkey and the United Kingdom Workplace Cultures

The United Kingdom, like the United States, is among the countries that welcome cultural diversity in the workplace. These developed countries have cultural minorities as part of their workforce for more than a century. Their laws regarding gender discrimination and equality in the workplace have been models for most countries, adapting to these laws and regulations (Marinas et al., 2009).

When one enters into a workplace for employment, he or she may be looking for the following benefits in their chosen organization: equal-opportunity, fair pay or wages, and other fringe benefits such as retirement or holidays off ( Marinas et al., 2009).

Even though Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country, there is a separation between the church and the state. This means that they differ in workplace ethics and culture than other Muslim countries. This separation of the church and state was enacted in the 1920s with the Turkish constitution’s ratification and the abolishment of the Sharia Law (Danidebold, 2009).

One of the most striking differences in Turkish workplace culture amongst other Muslim countries is their labor law provisions for the equality of women in the workplace. Women also choose to wear traditional Islamic garb, but they are not dictated to do so. Muslim women, by tradition, have long been classified as second class citizens. But in Turkey, they are not so (Sural, 2009).

The British style of human resources is that it is authoritative. It gives much emphasis on the hiring of managers from schools that they deem as acceptable to make the person qualified for the position (Marinas et al., 2009).

Control comes from the knowledge that a superior is watching over a person’s actions and deems it acceptable or unacceptable. Culture is a social control factor, even in the workplace. When managers and their subordinates deem what is acceptable in their culture in terms of human resource procedures, these policies may not be deemed as acceptable in other countries ( O’Reilly et al., 1996).

Turkey is part of the European Union and a predominantly Muslim country. This means that by tradition, women are required to wear Islamic outfits such as the headscarf. But in Turkey, women who work in public services are not required to wear such to avoid any discrimination. But even with all the laws that have been passed since the 1920s, some women may still feel or experience the strictures of their gender when going to public places or at work (Sural, 2009).

For multi-national companies that will set up operations in Turkey and want to impose a dress code, the Turkish labor law supports this. The labor law also states that no discrimination should be made in terms of religious neutrality and dress codes. Turkish law only protects any type of discrimination only during the time of employment. It means that when an applicant chooses to apply for a job position in a multi-national company wearing a traditional Islamic dress and gets denied because of this, the courts cannot act on the discrimination. But if the discrimination occurred during the time of employment, the employee can file a case against their employer (Sural, 2009).

The same cannot be said for applicants in the United Kingdom. If ever a person will be discriminated against even during the initial interview, a person can file charges of discrimination against that institution. It may be argued that the person chose to apply to that organization on his own free will. But in the Western world, a person cannot be denied the chance to gain employment based on race, religion, or what they are wearing at the time of the interview (Marinas, 2009).

In the Masculinity pole, according to Geert Hofstede, Turkey is predominantly feminine. This means that men and women share the same workplace values (Marinas, 2009).

There is a trend in the United Kingdom where the need for a human resource specialist is determined only when there is a need to draft contracts for employees. These human resource specialists do the skills needed to make the contracts competitive in the workforce marketplace. By making a company’s contract competitive, they are assured of attracting qualified job seekers ( Wittingslow, n.d.).

For workers in the United Kingdom, individual offices may require a dress code deemed appropriate for conducting business. Some may even have uniforms. This dress code is to eliminate the possibility of sexual harassment for women, and the sense of formality and respectfulness for men. The dress codes are not dictated by religion, but with culture ( Wittingslow, n.d.).

Bridging the Culture Gap

When setting up a multi-national organization, it is essential to close the culture gap. This means that even though the prevalent culture is that of the home country, human resource officers can acclimatize their policies to adapt to the culture of the employees ( Doye, 2005).

One way of bridging cultural gaps in the workforce is to have an understanding of the culture itself. Greetings, body language, and even food can help managers close these gaps by understanding these traditions. One good example is that food in Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries is highly spiced, which may be emitted through the body. For Westerners, they may stereotype this as poor hygiene when, in fact, it is not true (Wittingslow, n.d.).

Human resource officers who have experience in culturally diverse workforces suggest that managers should avoid stereotyping. One good example of stereotyping is when managers assume that everyone from the Middle East is Muslim when there is a small minority of other religions in the region ( O’Reilly et al., 1996).

For multi-national companies that will set up their offices in a country like Turkey, it is recommended to translate the workforce policies into the local language. In this way, employees will be able to understand the company’s existing rules and policies. The human resources handbook that contains the mission, vision, and business strategies of the company can be translated ( Doye, 2005).

Barriers That Can Affect the Workplace

Setting up a multi-cultural workplace can be challenging. This is especially true when both countries do not share one of the primary forms of communication: language. Culturally, Turkey and the United Kingdom do not share the same language. Turkish students may learn English, but not master it. The same goes for British students or executives who may need to do business transactions in Turkey. Both may need the help of an interpreter to convey what one needs to communicate ( Doye, 2005).

When a company outsources its’ products and services, it may train its staff in either English or the local dialect. This is important when the company deals with services, and the clients are still based in the home country. Some companies, due to cost-cutting measures, may not invest in training their staff to become multi-lingual. Instead, they will invest in human resource officers who can make sure that they can attract and screen applicants who can fill the position without needing the training in the language ( Doye, 2005).

This is also one of the procedures that are being implemented in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States. Because of their long exposure to culturally diverse workforces, they suggest hiring human resource managers who are bilingual and understand their minority group’s culture. This can help the minority group adapt more into the workplace culture and ensure their stay in the company ( Wittingslow, n.d.).

Human resource officers need to screen applicants qualified according to the language requirement of their global corporation. As of now, English is the global language in industries. When screening applicants, human resource officers can gauge the language proficiency of an applicant to see if they can communicate well. This does not apply only for front-liners but managers and officers as well. They need to make sure that candidates are proficient enough in English to avoid communication gaps (TIRF, 2009).

Religion can also cause barriers in the workplace. Countries like the United Kingdom may have different holidays than Turkey. Also, being a Muslim country, Turkish workers may need to take time off during religious holidays, and this can cause conflict because these days fall on regular business days in the United Kingdom. And if the company is service-based, it may not close down during this period because the company may lose revenues. As human resource managers, this factor needs to be considered when setting up a multi-national organization (Charlotte- Mecklenburg, 2002).

When there is a communication breakdown in the workplace, it can result in accidents or misinformation that can be costly. Human resource managers need to make sure that they can employ multi-lingual managers to give instructions and essential information to their employees (Charlotte- Mecklenburg, 2002).

For Muslims work in the United Kingdom, even though they are not discriminated against because of their religion, there are events that they cannot participate in. For example, when a company holds an event in a pub where there are alcoholic drinks, and it is an important social event for the company. Because of their religion, Muslims cannot participate and, therefore, are left out ( Torrington et al., 2005).

 How Culture Affects Performance Appraisals

Multi-national companies always advertise themselves as equal-opportunity employers. This means that if an employee performs beyond expectations, there will be many rewards and benefits. Employees may leave or stay in a particular company based on these rewards or career growth opportunities (Irani, n.d.).

This is where the individualist or individualism aspect of Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimension comes into place. When one is geared towards individualism, they give more importance to what they can achieve as individuals and the rewards that they reap from these achievements ( Marinas, 2009).

The aspect of individualism can be seen in performance appraisals and how they can accept the results of that appraisal. Performance appraisals are among the essential tools in human resources because they are a scorecard of an employee. But little importance is given on how culture affects the individualistic attitudes towards these appraisals ( Irani, n.d.).

In the individualism scores of Turkey and the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom scored higher (89) than Turkey (37). This means that in the United Kingdom’s workplace culture, these performance appraisals are given much importance by the employees. For Turkey that scored lower, it can be said that team efforts or consolidated efforts are given more importance (Marinas, 2009).

This dimension also reflects how women, though regarded as an equal in the Turkish workplace, still defer to their male counterparts for decisions. Because of the low score, human resources officers that will set up multi-national companies in Turkey should emphasize the importance of self-worth in the workplace, regardless of gender (Danidebold, 2009).

A performance appraisal can be used to assess if an employee is doing well in the workplace or needs help in their tasks. It can also be a determining factor for the retention or promotion of an employee. If an employee scores well consistently, it can be used to give remuneration and possible career advancement. For those that may score poorly, human resource officers can evaluate if further training is needed for the employee to excel in his tasks ( Irani, n,d.).

Since the United Kingdom scored high in the individualism dimension, it means that they give value to their performance and what rewards they have received from their work. But being an individual achiever does not mean that cultures that are high in the individualism dimension perform poorly when placed in teams. Instead, they can perform as well as long as their personal achievement needs are satisfied (Irani, n.d.).

This cultural dimension can be used to assess the changes that need to be made when making rewards or remuneration to employees. Since culture is a controlling factor in how individuals accept or reject their performance scores, human resource officers should be able to tailor rewards on the level of individual achievement and how they value these achievements (O’Reilly et al., 1996).

Since Turkey’s workplace culture is not geared towards individualism and collectivism, what human resource officers can do to motivate employees through rewards is to make it group-based. Performance appraisal can also be done at individual levels, but the human resource team should adapt to which one is more freely accepted by the workplace ( Irani, n.d.).

 Conclusion

Because Turkey is a secular Muslim nation, it will not be challenging to set up a company whose head office is in the United Kingdom. Implementing human resource policies from the head office may not cause difficulties when implemented in the outsourced office, which is in Turkey. They may differ in culture and workplace ethics, but these factors will not make it difficult to hand out human resource policies that may be patterned to that of the head office (Sural, 2009).

Many benefits can be gained from operating a multi-cultural and diverse team. One of them is the understanding of these cultures in ways that can be beneficial when doing trade. Religion has been one of the most controversial issues in some countries because it affects the culture and values of the residents. Many nations are already culturally diverse with the expanding globalization. Very rarely can you see, especially in the Western developed countries, a workplace that does not have a multi-cultural team ( O’Reilly et al., 1996).

For human resource officers commissioned to screen applicants for a multi-national company, it is important to screen them according to their knowledge and skills, not based on religion or gender. Western companies who outsource their operations make sure that the human resource officers advertise them as equal-opportunity employers to attract qualified applicants who can work in a multi-cultural setting ( Doye, 2005).

Cross-culture cannot be avoided in the future with the way business trends are going. Human resources and employees must learn to adapt to these changes to bridge gaps made by cultural differences. Human resources that can adapt to the changing business trends will have no problems with global expansion ( O’Reilly et al., 1996).

Equal opportunity is different from managing cultural diversity. Equal opportunity gives more focus on providing equal opportunity for a group such as a gender or a minority group. Managing diversity deals with the individual itself. If human resources and managers can deal with managing diversity, they can tap into the skills and knowledge of an individual (Torrington et al., 2005).

Human resource specialists can make policies for managing diversity. These policies are brought about by recognizing and accepting that changes need to be made in the system. For a company that will be set up in Turkey targeting to be a diverse workplace, the scores garnered in Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions can be used to assess where the changes have to implemented ( Marinas, 2009).

Going back to the questions that we posed when we started this paper, we fully understand how cultural diversity can affect the workplace. Especially if it will be an organization with human resource policies that are culturally different from ours, some policies may not be deemed acceptable in both cultures. The key here is that we should work with diversity and not challenge it (Doye, 2005).

In terms of adjusting human resource policies so that it aligns with the host country that we chose, the United Kingdom, one glaring factor that will need adjustment is religion. Even though Turkey is a secular nation, ninety percent of the population is Muslims. This may mean that when setting up operations, it will be communicated that provisions must be implemented for employees to observe religious holidays that may fall on regular business days in the United Kingdom. This way, both parties will benefit by understanding each one’s culture and traditions ( Torrinton et al., 2005).

Almost every industrialized nation is becoming a melting pot of different cultures. And human resources have recognized this, and instead of forcing culture into these minority groups, they instead have made changes in workplace policies. If human resource officers and managers do not see the potential of mixing these cultures to create a healthy workforce, organizations may fail because almost every trade for large companies has transactions done with partners overseas ( Doye, 2005).

Technology and globalization are all geared towards change. It is up to us to grasp and make use of its’ full potential. But managing diversity does not mean that we will lose our culture and identity to make way for other cultures to set in. Instead, it is the understanding and the capability of making both cultures, though as diverse as they are, to work hand in hand ( O’Reilly et al., 1996).

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