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Venturing into foreign territory
I thoroughly enjoyed your April 2001 issue focused on HR challenges in
emerging markets. There is a big knowledge void on the topic, and you have
helped partially bridge that gap. As companies expand into these areas, the
role of HR becomes ever more crucial. In the absence of familiar
"Western" precedents, uncertainty and fear emerge. The natural
reaction is for companies to hold stronger than ever to established practices
that mirror the home country approach. As pointed out in several of the articles,
the results are usually disastrous.
For HR professionals accustomed to rolling out a standardised, home-country
HR model as they expand, the entrance into emerging markets can pose both an
unpleasant shock and an interesting challenge. The resultant HR response
becomes crucial to the success of the whole operation. One of the main hurdles
is often convincing HQ of the benefits of embracing the diversity, strengths
and positive qualities of employees and customs in these emerging locations.
Truly global organisations recognise the need for flexibility and
adaptability when venturing into emerging markets. Your April issue helps move
us a little closer towards that goal.
T Russell Walker
Director, International Human Resources, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints , Salt Lake City, Utah, US
Making a difference
With increasing globalisation, it becomes more critical for all HR
practitioners to know more about the world – especially the world we don’t live
in. The focus of global HR management seems to be on what to do in the country
in which the company is expanding its operations or sending its expats.
This is a critical part of the equation, but only one part. From the point
of view of many recipient countries, it seems to me to be at least as important,
if not more, for HR professionals at the receiving end to gain an in-depth
understanding of the source country. This will enable them to provide the right
kind of guidance and resource to the arriving expats on the one hand, and to
the organisation as a whole on the other.
Eddie Ng touches on this in the April issue of Globalhr. He also raises the
issue of what contribution HR should be focusing on. The task and opportunities
are awesome. When one really analyses the issue of globalisation it is quite
easy to see that virtually everything associated with creating a successful
global strategy relates to the effective management of people. I think what we
fail to see is the huge responsibility this places on us, as a professional
collective, to make the world a better place.
There is much more we can do. We are supposedly the experts in, for example,
conflict resolution in our organisations. If we can teach the people who work
for us to negotiate rather than fight we will have made a massive contribution
to the quality of life of millions. This is just one example of an area in
which we can make a difference. There are many more. Isn’t it exciting to think
that, working together, we HR professionals can indeed make the world a better
MD, Sirocco Strategy Management, South Africa