1. To know why international business evolved in the way it did, we need to
understand how our predecessors resolved dilemmas like exercising distant
control before modern transport and communications developed.
2. Industrialization drove both internationalization and the precursors to personnel
management, both of which enjoyed a boom in the early decade of the century.
World War I had a negative impact on internationalization but a stimulating effect
on personnel practices.
3. With the emergence of the modern multinational in the expansion years after
World War II, international personnel departments were set up to manage
international assignments. Until the 90s, different aspects of expatriation have
remained the dominant focus.
4. Increasing geographical spread allied to a growing product range led some
multinationals to adopt the matrix solution, a big conceptual advance but
ultimately unmanageable as a structural solution. Firms started to realize that
HRM could help them combine local autonomy with a high degree of
5. In most firms, the headquarters bureaucracies grew to cope with these
increasingly complex problems of international coordination and control. With
localization and time-based competition, these bureaucracies were restructured,
accompanied by downsizing and delayering.
6. The emergence of the Japanese challenge represented a culture shock for Western
managers, leading to the realization that there were actually ‘two-best-ways’– and
if there were two best ways, then there might be more.
7. International firms have always muddled through dilemmas and contradictions,
often in a pendulum fashion. These contradictions started to become apparent as
firms were pushed to be simultaneously responsive to local needs as well as
globally integrated. Such contradictions are the hallmark of the so-called
8. All multinationals face transnational pressures but not with equal force – there is
considerable discretion in the choice of strategy. We are seeing firms going
beyond the transnational – today’s ‘front-back organization’ that poses big
challenges for coordination and contention management.
9. As the resource-based perspective on strategy took hold, HRM came to be seen
more and more as one of the keys to building sustainable competitive advantage.
10. What distinguishes international HRM is its interdisciplinary perspective.