Sub-theme 28: Global Forms of Work and Multinational Enterprises

Charmi Patel
Henley Business School, University of Reading, United Kingdom
Shay S. Tzafrir
University of Haifa, Israel
Pawan Budhwar
Aston University Business School, United Kingdom

Call for Papers

Global forms of work have become a common feature in multinational enterprises (MNEs), as today’s businesses transcend national boundaries. The effects of cultural, linguistic, spatial and temporal distances as well as the macro political, economic and societal institutions make the coordination of work and management of people within MNE’s particularly challenging (Raghuram et al., 2001; Welch & Welch, 2015). The recent ‘surprises’ within the socio-political environment globally (e.g. Brexit and evolving changes in the US policies on immigration) are making it difficult for MNEs to continually realign their human resource (HR) systems with strategies aiming at operating in an ever changing and complex global business context.
Existing research on global work, multinational enterprises, strategic HRM and global talent management have thus far remained obdurately distinct. Past research from international business (IB) perspective has mainly focused on strategic alignment (e.g. Rosenzweig & Nohria, 1994) and adaptation of HRM systems (Budhwar, 2012; Thite et al., 2014), role of HRM systems and management of international assignments (Tzafrir et al., 2004; Wang et al., 2009). Whereas HR research has been concentrated around expatriate management, cultural differences in response to HR practices as well as local v/s global adaptation debates. What is missing is an assimilation of studies within global work domain with respect to arrangements and classifications of global work, strategic HRM and global talent management (Allen et al., 2016). Although some scholars have looked into global work arrangements in MNEs, design of HR systems globally and the sharing, implementation as well as generation of HR capabilities in MNEs, additional questions still remain addressing (cf. Shaffer et al., 2012; Morris & Snell, 2011; Pudleko & Harzing, 2007). Given the emerging complex political scenarios, a key question for scholars is to investigate how MNEs establish a consistent HR system that is aligned with their global strategy but also taking into account the ‘surprises’ of political, societal and institutional imperatives so as to ensure fit at multi-local levels. These would include a better understanding of the role of supra-national institutions at a time when the primary concern of comparative institutional analysis has been at the level of the state and firm (Wood & Budhwar, 2016). The ethical and practical tensions surrounding legitimate identification, attraction and development as well as retention of talent is then of critical importance for MNEs and their HR managers (Farndale et al., 2010).
Questions such as the above are often multi-level in nature. Thus our theme proposes call to cover various levels of analyses such as country/national, industry, firm, team and individual. We welcome studies that apply different theoretical lenses and multi-level approaches to better understand the growing complexity around global work in MNEs with particular attention to critical problems in the world such as climate change, migration, diversity and inclusion. We propose several questions aimed at the intersection of: (a) global work in MNEs, i.e. what structures, systems, policies and practices do MNEs need to facilitate global work? (b) How does the design of systems and implementation fit an MNE’s strategy within growing global complexity? (c) How do MNEs define, identity and conceptualize talent? What is the nature of the talent-management challenges in emerging markets specifically BRIC and Asia-Pacific? And, how are organizations responding to the unique social and cultural settings of these markets?
All methods of inquiry as well as theoretical papers are encouraged. Questions that might be addressed by papers in this sub-theme (by no means exhaustive) include:

  • Given the growing fragmentation of global forms of work (e.g., corporate expatriation, self-initiated expatriation, business travel, virtual collaboration), what are some of the unforeseen challenges for HRM (Allen et al., 2016)?

  • What are the key competencies for individuals to perform global work effectively? What are the corresponding HR practices to identify and develop them (Allen et al., 2016)?

  • What are ways to deal with the geographic dispersion (extent of coordination across borders needed) and multiculturalism/multilinguism (extent of coordination among people from diverse cultures and native languages needed) of global work (Allen et al., 2016)?

  • What further theoretical insights might contribute to the future development of talent management? How could this push the boundaries of international business and management? What models might evolve in the future?

  • What are the effects of inclusive and exclusive approaches to global work and talent management, and how are they perceived by employees who are/are not considered to be ‘talent’ by the organization?

  • What mechanisms might foster linkages between global diversity management, talent management and migration? And how? What might be the benefits to businesses?

  • What are the individual, organizational, and macro-contextual (political and social) barriers to talent management in the present and future, and how can these be overcome?

  • What roles might HRM managers and organizational leaders play in fostering ethical and sustainable local, regional, and global talent management?

  • What forms does talent management take in medium- and small-size organizations, and how are these models likely to look in the future?

  • What theoretical bridges exist (if any) between expatriation and talent management? How might these diverge/converge in the future? What impact might such developments have on international business and management?

  • What is the role of stakeholders such as corporate leaders, governments, NGOs, universities, and international institutions in shaping talent management? How is it possible to take their interests into account?



  • Allen, D., Lee, Y.T., & Reiche, S. (2015): “Global Work in the Multinational Enterprise New Avenues and Challenges for Strategically Managing Human Capital Across Borders.” Journal of Management, 41 (7), 2032–2035.
  • Budhwar, P.S. (2012): “Management of human resources in foreign firms operating in India: The role of HR in country-specific headquarters.” International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23 (12), 2514–2531.
  • Farndale, E., Scullion, H., & Sparrow, P. (2010): “The role of the corporate HR function in global talent management.” Journal of World Business, 45, 161–168.
  • Morris, S.S., & Snell, S.A. (2011): “Intellectual capital configurations and organizational capability: An empirical examination of human resource subunits in the multinational enterprise.” Journal of International Business Studies, 42, 805–827.
  • Pudelko, M., & Harzing, A.W. (2007): “Country-of-origin, localization, or dominance effect? An empirical investigation of HRM practices in foreign subsidiaries.” Human Resource Management, 46, 535–559.
  • Raghuram, S., Garud, R., Wiesenfeld, B., & Gupta, V. (2001): “Factors contributing to virtual work adjustment.” Journal of Management, 27 (3), 383–405.
  • Rosenzweig, P.M., & Nohria, N. (1994): “Influences on human resource management practices in multinational corporations.” Journal of International Business Studies, 25, 229–251.
  • Shaffer, M.A., Kraimer, M.L., Chen, Y.-P., & Bolino, M.C. (2012): “Choices, challenges, and career consequences of global work experiences: A review and future agenda.” Journal of Management, 38, 1282–1327.
  • Thite, M., Budhwar, P.S., & Wilkinson, A. (2014): “Global HR roles and factors influencing their development: evidence from emerging Indian IT services multinationals.” Human Resource Management, 53 (6), 921–946.
  • Tzafrir, S.S., Baruch, Y., & Dolan, S.L. (2004): “The consequences of emerging HRM practices for employees' trust in their managers.” Personnel Review, 33 (6), 628–647.
  • Wang, S., Tong, T.W., Chen, G., & Kim, H. (2009): “Expatriate utilization and foreign direct investment performance: The mediating role of knowledge transfer.” Journal of Management, 35, 1181–1206.
  • Welch, D.E., & Welch, L.S. (2015): “Developing multilingual capacity: A challenge for the multinational enterprise.” Journal of Management.
  • Wood, G., & Budhwar, P.S. (2016): “Brexit and Beyond: The BJM and Unforeseen Events.” British Journal of Management, 27 (4), 680–681.


Charmi Patel is an Associate Professor in international HRM at Henley Business School, University of Reading, UK. Her research interests include strategic and international HRM, field research methods (both qualitative and quantitative), and the sociology and social psychology of organizations. Her research is interdisciplinary in nature, importing sensibilities from sociology, psychology as well as management to better understand the employee-organization relationship. She has published articles in leading scholarly journals including the ‘Human Resource Management’, ‘Journal of World Business’, ‘Human Resource Management Review’, ‘International Journal of Human Resource Management’, and ‘European Journal of International Management’. She is part of the executive committee of Indian Academy of Management at the Academy of Management and Aston India Centre for Applied Research having been instrumental in creating and functioning of both these global research centers.
Shay S. Tzafrir is an Associate Professor in the Department of Business Administration at the University of Haifa, Israel. He serves as an Associate Editor of the ‘Journal of Managerial Psychology’ and ‘Journal of Trust Research’. He also serves on the Editorial Review Board of ‘Journal of Management’. His articles have been published in journals such as ‘Industrial Relations’, ‘Human Resource Management’, ‘Journal of Organizational and Occupational Psychology’, ‘International Journal of Human Resource Management’, and others. Shay has served as sub-theme and PDW convenor in the past for several EGOS Colloquia.
Pawan Budhwar is a Professor of international HRM and Director of Aston India Centre for Applied Research at Aston Business School, UK. His research interests lie mainly in the international perspectives of work practices and managing human resources in emerging markets with a specific focus on India. He has published over 110 articles in leading journals and has also written and/or co-edited 18 books on HRM-related topics for different national and regional contexts. He is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the ‘British Journal of Management’, an Associate Editor of ‘Human Resource Management’ and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, British Academy of Management, the Academy of Social Sciences and Indian Academy of Management. He is the co-founder and first president of the Indian Academy of Management, an affiliate of the Academy of Management. Pawan has regularly received research grants from many funding bodies and also from the industry.