There has been considerable debate amongst many scholars whether HRM systems and practices within nations are converging (Sotirakou and Zeppou, 2005). Forces that are driving globalisation, such as the liberalisation of international trade, the international market of production, research and marketing by major MNCs, as well as the emergence of major economic regions like the European Union, have given the opportunity to recruit overseas human capital in order to seek competitive advantage (Myloni et al, 2004).
This view is supported by Sotirakou and Zeppou (2005) where they contend that due to such factors as market liberalization, ever changing information technology, globalisation and the recent emergence of knowledge societies have manufactured a turbulent and complex working environment for government agencies and organisations. There are an increasing number of organizations that are adopting a common European HRM culture due to such factors as cross-border-alliances and mergers (Brewster et al, 2005).
In order to determine whether or not there is an effort to coalesce a common HRM culture, it is first necessary to gain a greater understanding of HRM culture, the EU and also any various perspectives on the matter. Harris (2004) believes that with the development of the European Union, there is an increasing demand for the ‘fusing together’ of diverse peoples and their national cultures.
Also it is paramount that examples are shown where a common HRM culture has been achieved and the problems that can arise. Organizational Culture Bruce et al define organizational culture as the ‘personality of a firm’, they see it as a trait or characteristic that makes the organization ‘unique’ from the perspective of people within and outside the organisation. Koch (1996) sees cultural background as an organisation’s basic assumptions, values and ways of thinking.
Various definitions of culture have been offered, however, the common contention is the belief and presence of shared values, beliefs, assumptions, and patterns of behavior (Schein 1992). What is evident in the Organisational Culture is the personification of the organisation where companies collectively share the characteristics and traits of their employees. Adler (1997) argues that in there are five main components when managing human capital across various cultures and organisations.
Cultural synergy. Cultural synergy promotes a ‘transcultural business environment’ and provides for new solutions where is acknowledges and respects all cultures. An example of this, would be negotiations being carried out in English between a Spanish and Italian company, if the Spanish company insisted on Spanish it would be cultural dominance, if they insisted on Italian it would be cultural accommodation and interpreters were used it would be cultural compromise.
Adler (1997) notes that English is emerging as the principal language of communication among members which is important with the main topic been discussed. Myloni et al (2003) argue that many Countries within the EU are different from each other and that their distinctive cultural differences are mirrored in labour legislation and other institutional factors such as labour market trends, trade-union influence, recruitment and selection, compensation and benefits, public opinion and stakeholder’s interests and views.
European HRM culture According to Koch (1996) the European legal and police cultures are not homogeneous and maybe it is not even a good idea to try to homogenize them. He believes that discrepancies arise due to cultural diversity in different nations. Subsequently he sees that the solution lies in an effective ‘intercultural’ human resource management strategy. In Europe, the alignment of national public administration policies and practices to EU directions is regarded as a key factor in the process of integration.
This is evident within European Public administration, the administration convergence is placing more pressure and demands in Human Resource managers in every European state (Sotirakou and Zeppou, 2005). The convergence of HRM within union states provides a unified policy, however, this strategy allows for differences at the national or organisational level, due to cultural factors. Consequently, the European convergence of HRM culture may be considered as an outcome of a complex interaction of many of members’ legislation, economies and varying market forces.