Third, along with the analysis, it presents an agenda for future research. Fourth, it presents a framework useful for highlighting the context specific nature of Asian HARM functions and the main determinants of HARM policies and practices from a cross-national comparative perspective. Keeper’s HARM . Asia . Research in HARM . Cross-national HARM Considering the rapid globalization, developments in the field of HARM and a number of region-specific significant developments, there is now a greater need to examine HARM systems of Asian countries.
For compositional simplicity in this article, we use “Asia” (or “Asian countries”) to refer mainly to the main emerging economies in the region (I. E. , China, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) often referred to as “developing Asia” by the UN and also Japan. An analysis of key achievements of the Asian region highlights a number of important facts, such as it produces more goods and services than either North America or the European Union and this trend is expected to accelerate in the years to come.
Many of the important emerging economies are located n Asia (see The Economist, 2007). Further, they attract an enormous amount of foreign direct investment (FED). For example, China was the top destination for foreign capital in 2003 with a record inflow of $55 billion, overtaking America for the first time and now continuing to do so (see Rowley & Warner, P. Buddha (k) Gaston Business School, Gaston University, Gaston Triangle, Birmingham BE ET, UK e-mail: p. S. [email protected] AC. UK Y. A.
Deborah School of Business and Economics, University of Wales, Swansea, Singleton Park, Swansea AS 2 APP, UK e-mail: y. A. [email protected] AC. UK 198 P. Buddha, Y. Deborah 2005; UNCLAD, 2007). It is also predicted that most new members of the newly affluent nations would come from Asia in the twenty-first century (see Tan, 2002). Despite all this, most Asian emerging economies have a long way to go before they acquire the status of developed nations (for example, in professionalism, formalism, and rationalization of management systems).
Nevertheless, it is important to examine the role of HARM function in the region as it plays a significant role in the economic development of nations (see Deborah, McGovern, & Buddha, 2000; Tabby, 1995). The existing iterate (see for example, Buddha, 2004) highlights a scarcity of HARM research in the Asian context (with an exception of the Chinese and Japanese contexts). Considering the growing economic importance of the region, it has now become an imperative to regularly conduct systematic research investigations which can highlight the relevant HARM system(s) for the region.
This will not only help decision makers to develop appropriate policies but will also help in developing valid HARM theories. Lately, Jackson and Schuler (1995) and Schuler, Buddha, and Folklorist (2002) have called for the examining of HARM systems in a given context. It will not only help to highlight the context specific nature of HARM but also to reveal the influence of various factors and variables on HARM. This will contribute to the development of relevant policies and practices and theories of HARM (Buddha & Deborah, 2004).
Research in contextual isolation is not only misleading, but it strongly hinders the understanding of core aspects of the phenomenon in any significant way (Schuler et al. , 2002: 41 In a significant contribution to this debate, Meyer (2006) asserts that in view of the challenges facing Asian businesses, Asian searchers should focus on context-specific issues. In his view, such research should be capable of making major contributions, for instance by explaining context-specific variables and effects, and by drawing on traditional Asian thought in developing new theories.
In this article, we review the existing literature on HARM in Asia, highlight possible avenues for future research, and also how research investigations on HARM in Asia can be conducted in a meaningful manner. Table 1 highlights the main themes along which research in the Asian context related to the field of HARM has been conducted. It also helps us to identify the key gaps in the existing literature and enables us to draw themes for future research. For example, what are the dominant emerging HARM models of major Asian economies? What are the main factors which dictate HARM in Asia?
How best we can examine the influence of such factors on Asian HARM? Is HARM converging or diverging within Asian countries? Developments in Asian HARM and the research agenda Based on the above analysis and a thorough literature review, we propose a list Of 16 areas for future research directions. Our first proposed focus for future research is: Future research direction 1: Need to conduct more research in the Asian region so as to highlight the context-specific nature of personnel functions and relevant HARM system(s) for each nation. An analysis of relevant literature highlights that the field of HARM is still evolving in the region.
The literature analysis on HARM in Asia in particular shows that research has been and is being conducted on the following topics. First, the literature Future research on human resource management systems in Asia 199 regularly features a number of country-specific studies, such as those on Japan (sans, Moonshine, & seek, 1997), Singapore (Chew & Hurwitz, 2004), Hong Kong (Kampuchea, 2003; 2006), Thailand (Kampuchea, 2000; Shanghai & Bechtel, 2005), Vietnam (Kampuchea, 2001 Malaysia (Chew, 2005), Taiwan (Line, 1997), Indonesia (Habit & Lariats, 1999) and Korea (Rowley, 1998).
At present, a lot of research is being published on different aspects of Chinese management (Chow, 2004; Cooke, 2005; Mathews, 2006; Penn, 2007; Warner, Wong, & Lee, 2002). Similarly, there is information available regarding different aspects of managing human resources in different countries of the egging (see Buddha, 2004). For example, the Japanese employment system and the management models of Singapore, Chinese and Korean businesses are now explored in the literature (see Isobar, Making, & Green, 2006; Rowley, 1 998; Thus-Such & Lee, 2003).
However, in the present context, the validity of a number of such established ideal-typical management models is questionable. To provide up to date information to both academics and practitioners, there is a need to examine the applicability of such models in the present global context. To make the analysis more meaningful, searchers should make serious attempts to highlight the major factors that determine HARM policies and practices in the region. Future research direction 2: Cross-national HARM research should help to highlight the emerging management model(s) applicable to specific countries of the region.
Second, a number of studies focus on the possible issues and problems relating to HARM in Asia from a global perspective (see El Kale, 2001; Anural, 2006). Emphasizing cultural values, Aka, Sinai, and Wilier (2000) stress the need to indigene the management practices in Asian organizations. The authors halogen the applicability of Western management and organization theories in the Asian context. Pun, Chin, and Luau (2000), on the basis of a comparative analysis between Anglo-American and Chinese cultures, highlight the pervasive influence of Chinese cultural heritage and collective orientation on Chinese organizational life.
In order to adapt to the growing global environment, these authors suggest the need to determine changes to aspects of Chinese management culture. This is a big challenge to local organizations, as due to the deep cultural and institutional differences, even he foreign firms operating in China find it hard to implement their head- quarters’ HARM practices in their Chinese subsidiaries (see Kid, Lie, & Richter, 2001).
Arguably, this is changing as a study by Bookmark and Lu (1999) reveal the successful implementation of global standardized HARM practices in foreign firms operating in the Chinese context. Similarly, Bookmark and Bather’s (2007) investigation also highlights the existence of a similar phenomenon in foreign firms operating in India. Such results indicate that perhaps certain levels of standardization of HARM systems is taking place around the globe. However, more research is needed in this regard.
This is an important agenda for future research, especially to highlight the reasons for the occurrence or non-occurrence of such phenomena. Future research direction 3: Highlight the main factors contributing (or otherwise) to the successful implementation of Western global standardized HER policies and practices in the Asian context 200 Table 1 Thematic areas of contemporary HARM studies in Asia and areas of future research. Challenges identified Areas of future research Themes/studies Authors Country specific studies]pan Isobar, Making, and Green (2006), Sans et al. 997) Singapore Chew (2004) Hong Kong Kampuchea (2003, 2006) Taiwan -RSI- Such and Lee (2003), Line (1997) Korea Rowley (1998) China Matthews (2006), Cooke (2005), Warner, Wong and Lee (2002) Malaysia Chew (2005) Vietnam Kampuchea (2001 ) Thailand Shanghai and Bechtel (2005), Kampuchea (2000) Indonesia Habit and Lariats (1999) Dominance of Anglo-American theories Meyer (2006), Anural (2006), El-Kale (2001) Provide a good understanding of HARM models in There is the need to examine the applicability of specific countries but models cannot be extended/ such models to the region as a whole (all countries applied to there countries in the region in the region albeit with significant modifications) It is argued that Asian research agendas tend to be What is required is research that is able to make dominated by theories developed for Angleworm contributions, for instance by explaining American contexts that are not sufficiently adapted context-specific variables and effects, and by to local circumstances drawing on traditional Asian thought in developing new theories Challenges the applicability of Western management and organization theories to the Asian context.
It relates to how to indigene management practices in Asian organizations The overemphasis of collective orientation on Chinese organizational life is also seen as a challenge There is the need for cross-national HARM research to identify emerging management models applicable to specific countries and the region in general p. Buddha, Y. Deborah Research is needed to understand what aspects of Chinese culture need to change in order for Chinese/ Asian firms to adapt to global environment Emerging management models Issues relating Aka, Sinai, and Wilier (1 999), pun, Chin and to context of Luau (2000), Kid et al. (2001 Hefted (2007) Asian management research.
Emphasis on cultural values Table 1 (continued) Challenges identified Areas of future research Pervasive influence of Chinese cultural heritage Convergence-?divergence thesis in the Asian context Rowley (1998), Rowley and Benson (2002), Warner (1998, 2002), Meant (1998) Recent investigations in the region point to ‘soft convergence’ but evidence is inconclusive More research needed to establish whether there is any evidence of ‘hard convergence’ in view of the heterogeneity (such as population, geography, economies, economic development phase, labor market, legal and political et-up) There is a dearth of research on issues pertaining to the emergence of professional management. Research is needed on how it is evolving Convergence-?divergence or “correspondence” of management practices Isobar et al. (2006), Rowley and Warner The economic crisis of the late asses challenged (2005), Begin (1997) Rowley (1 998), the validity of family business models in their Wang, Hang, and Banal (2005), present context. It also ushered in professional Tu et al. 2002) management Factors contributing to the changing nature, management and employment relations in firms and there dominant business groups (chasubles, keiretsu) Versa et al. (1995), Survival, Dads, Swoon, The effects Of globalization on employment and Swoon (2002), Franken and Pet (1998), relations systems. For example, the decline in Deborah (2002), Had (2002), union membership and employment security Franken and pet (1998) Further research needed on more countries to determine the new patterns of employment relations and to provide a comprehensive picture of the main determinants of HARM systems in the region The impact of globalization and international competitiveness on employees
The challenges arising from the changing Rowley and Babe (2004), Washman (1998), organizational environment and violation of Buddha and Faddish (2000), Lou (2002) psychological contract The need to determine what constitutes violation of psychological contract and the contextual patterns and diversity of responses to psychological contract violations Economic liberalizing and appropriation have In addition, it is necessary to examine how to resulted in increased stress, declining job security, achieve a balance between traditional management downsizing and retrenchment in China, India, based on groupies and new management eased on Vietnam, and Japan individualism For employees the move from traditional It is also essential to examine the emerging nature employment practices constitutes violation of and constituents of internal labor markets (Alms) psychological contract in Asian firms 201 202 HARM issues in new sectors such as Ties & BOP Buddha et al. (2006), Champagne and Soya’ (2002), Chowder (2003), Paragraph (2003), Buddha et al. (2006), For (2003), Houghton and Sheehan (2000), Deborah et al. 2000), Bibb (2003), All (2005) These studies have highlighted the stressful It is essential for researchers to investigate the nature of call center work and work in business causes of employee dissatisfaction in the new process outsourcing firms. This is also the case sectors and highlight the kind of HARM system and with knowledge- driven economy workers (biotech practices suitable for the new sectors clusters) but there is not evidence Of management strategies to deal with these problems Diversity management Holland (2003), Deborah (2002) Snaps and Redden (2003) Pilling (2003) Have noted the mixed and less conclusive results relating to the contribution of HARM to firm performance in the Asian context
Issues relating to gender (women), age and Highlight the main concerns of both foreign and ethnicity have been brought to the fore due to local firms towards the management of workers in labor shortages and the looming demographic the sector time bomb The challenges faced by firms in managing the Research is required on the dynamics of diversity increasing numbers of women and immigrants in management in the Asian context and strategies the workplace have not be fully explored for managing diversity Research also needed to highlight the nature and kind of legislation suitable o safeguard the increasing diverse workforce It is necessary to examine this relationship in the Asian context and to shed light on which school of thought (universal-best practices, contingency or bundles) is more applicable in Asian organizations Researchers need to continuously develop, test and re-test constructs suitable for conducting research in the Asian Context.
HARM and organizational performance Babe and Lealer (2000), Hang (1998), Garland (2003), Sings (2003) Quality of research Dung (2005), Meyer (2006), White (2002), Research limited to simplistic comparisons, Luau (2002), Aka et al. 1 999), Kid et al. (2001 ) correlation analysis providing no insight into underlying processes and skewed, idiosyncratic sampling Bold typeface indicates that the article was published in Asia Pacific Journal of Management. 203 Third, a significant number of scholars (see for example, Meant, 1998; Andrews & Comprise, 2005; Rowley, 1998; Rowley & Benson, 2002; Warner, 1998, 2002) have examined the convergence-divergence thesis in the Asian context.
Though, over the last decade or so, research evidence has helped to supplant the convergence view, recent investigations in the Asian region (see Warner, 2000, 2002) emphasize the notion of “soft convergence” as an outcome of globalization. From the multinational corporations (Macs’) perspective, the implementation of global standardized HARM practices and policies (with local adjustments) is also an indication of soft convergence. However, considering the heterogeneity (such as population, geography, economies, economic development phase, labor markets, socio-cultural, legal and political set-up, and HARM systems) of the region and context specific nature of HARM, it will not be sensible to talk about significant or “hard convergence. More research is needed to confirm such a thesis.
Future research direction 4: Examine the “convergence-divergence” or “correspondence” thesis for HARM systems in the Asian context. Fourth, the unique characteristics of different business groups (such as chasubles, keiretsu) operating in different countries in the region which have contributed a great deal in their economic success have attracted a lot of research interest (see Isobar et al. , 2006; Rowley & Warner, 2005). These business groups have deep roots in the core institutions (such as family structure, Confucianism), and socio-cultural background of their respective societies and accordingly have their own HARM systems (see Begin, 1 997; Rowley, 1998; Yang, 2006).
The economic crisis of late asses and the present competitive environment have raised questions regarding the validity of such ideal-typical family business management models in the present context (see Thus-Such & Lee, 2003; Tu, Kim, & Sullivan, 2002; Wang, Hang, & Banal, 2005). Before the economic crisis, such groups, although professionalisms their management systems, retained family control and corporate rule. However, the pressure created by the economic crisis is forcing the groups to languish some family control and corporate rule by absorbing more professional managers into their top management (Penn & Deli’s, 2006). A similar pattern is emerging in the Indian private business houses where top positions are being offered to best available professionals and a more formal and rationalized approach to HARM is being adopted (see Buddha, 2003).
However, this phenomenon is still evolving across many Asian countries and there is a scarcity of reliable literature in this regard (White, 2002). To confirm it more research is needed and should be the focus of future research. Future research direction 5: Highlight the main factors contributing to the changing nature and management systems of dominant business groups (for example, chasubles, keiretsu) in the Asian region. Fifth, some scholars highlight the effects of globalization on the employment relations system of Asian countries (Franken & Pet, 1998; Versa, Cochin, & Laundry, 1995). Most countries of the region (like many others around the globe) experienced decline in the union membership (Survival, Dads, Swoon, & Swoon, 2002).
Changes in industrial relations in the Asian context due to globalization is 204 also contributing to adjustment from previously salient constraint (labor peace and industrial stability) to the new imperative of enhancing firm-level competitiveness through both numerical and functional flexibility (Survival & Erickson, 2002). It is clear that globalization and the Asian economic crisis of late asses have certainly affected the employment relations of Asian countries in one way or the other, such as employment security (see Deborah, 2002; Had, 2002). What are the new pattern(s) or perhaps more valid scenario of employment relations is then worth examining? Future research erection AAA: Highlight the emerging patterns of employment relations in Asian countries.
From the above discussion it becomes evident that the existing HARM research in the Asian context is both limited and possibly not conducted in a systematic manner with a clear framework which can highlight the main determinants of HARM, and also highlight the context specific nature of the personnel function, and enable scholars to draw a comprehensive picture of the scene. This is consistent with Meyers (2006) view that in Asia research agendas tend to be dominated by theories developed for Anglo- American contexts that are insufficiently adapted to local circumstances. Research investigations along the lines of Asian context-specific issues can significantly help to cover such gaps. An analysis of the existing literature, also highlight a number of challenges faced by the HER function in the region. The next section presents some of the main challenges and further research areas as a possible way forward to overcome the challenges.
Challenges facing HARM function in Asia As indicated above, at present globalization is changing the (stable) workplace systems in the region. This is evident in many countries. Thus, the effects of changes created by the globalization pose major challenges for HARM in the Asian region (also see Hefted, 2007). For instance, in China and India there is some evidence that economic liberalizing arising from globalization and competitive pressures is changing the pattern of HARM, employee relations and industrial relations and labor legislation (see Cooke, 2005 for information on China and Sinai & Buddha, 2004 for developments in the Indian legal framework). Some of these changes are occurring both in the private and public sectors in both countries.
In China, it is argued that the emergence of market economy is undermining the “nanny employer’ image of organizations as there is a concerted effort to shift the huge welfare burden from employers to individuals. In line with this approach, the downsizing of organizations and changing recruitment and retention practices have resulted in insecurity for workers in China. It is expected that a similar pattern will emerge in countries like India where many of the state owned firms have surplus labor. However, unlike China, downsizing in India will be strongly resisted by both trade unions and opposition political parties. Similarly, the changing business environment in Japan has put tremendous pressures on employers to change their traditional employment practices in order to survive.
Accordingly, Japanese employers are restructuring their employment systems in response to low growth, globalization and international competitiveness. 205 The major elements of the Japanese style HARM-?Fifteen employment, seniority promotion system, enterprise unions, keiretsu and sub-contracting relations developed essentially in response to rapid and high economic growth during the post-war industrialization boom-?are being fundamentally ransomed. This transformation is by no means smooth, especially against a background of low growth, recession and rising unemployment, Japanese employers are experiencing significant HARM problems. Consequently there are calls for a critical re-evaluation of the basic framework of the established Japanese HARM model.
In this regard, for a country famous for providing lifetime employment, this is a major transformation with fundamental and long-term challenges for HARM. The deep-seated challenges are not limited to Japan, China and India as they are occurring through out the region. The halogen facing HER managers who are dealing with the global forces is how they can minimize the threats posed by global competitive pressures on HARM while at the same time taking advantage of the opportunities created by globalization to restructure their HARM and employee relations practices. This also provides a great opportunity for researchers and should be considered as an important research agenda. Future research direction b: Highlight the dynamics of employment relations in Asian countries.
Globalization and international competitiveness can pose significant threat to the productivity and morale of employees. In an attempt to explore these challenges, Rowley and Babe (2004) have proposed the use of Rousseau (1995) three-fold typology of psychological contracts as an analytical tool. This is quite pertinent in view of the impacts of globalization and competitive pressures on HARM discussed earlier.