International human resource management: review and critique

Randall S. Schuler, Pawan S. Budhwar, Gary W. Florkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The research agenda for the field of international human resource management (IHRM) is clear. For a better understanding and to benefit substantially, management scholars must study IHRM in context (Jackson, S.E. and Schuler, R.S. 1995. Understanding human resource management in the context of organizations and their environment. Annual Review of Psychology, 46: 237–264; Geringer, J.M., Frayne, C.A. and Milliman, J.F. 2002. In search of 'best practices' in international human resource management: research design and methodology. Human Resource Management, forthcoming). IHRM should be studied within the context of changing economic and business conditions. The dynamics of both the local/regional and international/global business context in which the firm operates should be given serious consideration. Further, it could be beneficial to study IHRM within the context of the industry and the firm's strategy and its other functional areas and operations. In taking these perspectives, one needs to use multiple levels of analysis when studying IHRM: the external social, political, cultural and economic environment; the industry, the firm, the sub-unit, the group, and the individual. Research in contextual isolation is misleading: it fails to advance understanding in any significant way (Adler, N.J. and Ghadar, E. 1990. Strategic human resource management: a global perspective. Human Resource Management in International Comparison. Berlin: de Gruyter; Locke, R. and Thelen, K. 1995. Apples and oranges revisited: contextualized comparisons and the study of comparative labor politics. Politics & Society, 23, 337–367). In this paper, we attempt to review the existing state of academic work in IHRM and illustrate how it incorporates the content and how it might be expanded to do so.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-70
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Management Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002

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  • international human resource management
  • changing economic and business conditions
  • industry
  • strategy
  • functional areas
  • operations


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