In this special issue of the Research and Practice in Human Resource Management Journal, we have selected four papers presented at the second ‘International Conference on Globalisation, Innovation and Human Resource Development for Competitive Advantage’, organised by the School of Management, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand. The aim of the conference was to encourage HR researchers and practitioners, and others, to investigate recent developments in business practices associated with the emerging environment of new information and communication technology (ICT). The papers presented illustrate some of the changes that are taking place in the world due to globalisation. Other issues include the rules governing business operations such as corporate governance, labour law and changes in employment practices which make use of the new ICT environment.
Edwards and Zhang report on the impact of globalisation on MNCs and how this has encouraged international managers and firms to create a competitive advantage through the human resource management strategy of ‘home practice’. In their study of Chinese MNCs in the UK, Edwards and Zhang found that when Chinese companies extend their business into global markets, they adopt a localisation strategy. The authors argue that a localisation strategy is not only a pragmatic response to indigenous cultural and regulatory constraints, but also a strategic choice to learn about, and to use, modern management techniques as part of a ‘catch-up’ process of internationalisation. They term this ‘absorption localisation’.
The impact of the recent financial crisis in Asia on growth in the region and its effects on other parts of the world’s economy has highlighted the need for good corporate governance. The paper by Michie and Oughton examines the effects of employee ownership and employee participation on corporate governance and performance. In their paper the authors argue that corporations should take into account the governance effects of employee participation, incentives and ownership.
As its starting point, the paper considers the UK government’s continuing reviews of corporate governance and associated policy measures to encourage employee share ownership. The authors attempt to develop models of corporate governance and legal structures that facilitate the combination of employee ownership and participation, and thereby enhance corporate outcomes.
One outcome of globalisation is that the flow of capital investment seems to be faster than the international mobility of labour. This has resulted in work migrating from more advanced economies to less developed regions. In this context, Stephen Frost examines the labour law regimes in countries in Asia and the Pacific and their capacity to regulate new forms of IT-enabled work. He also explores trade union responses to these trends and argues that the weak implementation and enforcement of labour laws means that workers employed in new forms of work are likely to face the same problems as do workers in other sectors. Moreover, trade unions have generally been either unable or unwilling to confront new issues regarding organisational strategies and to debate governments on key policy issues surrounding this burgeoning sector.
The trend to outsourcing eWork provides the setting for the paper by Shah and Bandi who investigate the human resource management practices adopted in an Indian technical support call centre. They found that in a call centre that employs knowledge workers, HR practices are designed to enhance employee performance and work environment. They also found that firms that have been established because of the outsourcing of eWork by MNCs, tend to be lean and flat in structure. Thus, teams are generally the core of the operations in such firms.
In summary, globalisation has led to a shift in the business landscape. It has developed the New Economy where firms become more knowledge-based in their operations. In particular, the service sector has become more knowledge-intensive. Technological changes have created a need for organisations to employ knowledge workers and/or to develop their work force in order to create a competitive advantage and to make use of both business opportunities and human resources around the globe.