Strategic HRM through the cultural looking glass: mapping the cognition of British and Indian managers

Pawan S. Budhwar, Paul R. Sparrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines the issues of `integration' of human resource management (HRM) into the corporate strategy, `devolvement' of HRM to line managers and the perceived influence of national culture on HRM in a cross-national comparative context. In order to achieve this, the cognition of personnel specialists from a matched sample of 48 Indian and British firms in the manufacturing sector using the `Visual Cards Sorting' and `CMAP2' methodologies are analyzed. The findings show that even where there is an apparent convergence of strategy — e.g., the desire of both Indian and British personnel managers to increase integration between HRM and business strategy, and to increase the level of devolvement to line managers, the two sets of specialists clearly follow a different logic of action, which is subject to a different set of cross-cultural influences. The implications of pursuing apparently similar HRM solutions in different cross-national contexts are considered. The analysis shows that HRM strategies, when considered in a cross-national context, vary a lot. Different logic leads to the adoption of similar HR strategies, and similar strategies in turn are perceived as producing different outcomes. This variance centres around the existence and perceived influence of several contextual variables such as industrial relations systems, operation of labour markets, and changes in business systems. Specific cross-cultural influences, along with different aspects of competitive business environment associated with the generic HR strategies of integration and devolvement in the two countries are highlighted. This research contributes to the fields of cross-cultural management research, international HRM and managerial and organizational cognition. It also has important messages for policy makers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-638
Number of pages40
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002


  • human resource management
  • HRM
  • corporate strategy
  • line manager
  • influence
  • national culture
  • cross-national comparative context
  • personnel specialists
  • India
  • Britain
  • manufacturing sector


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