Sub-theme 30: Global Forms of Work, Global Mobility, and Multinational Enterprises

Charmi Patel
University of Reading, United Kingdom
Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki
University of Vienna, Austria
Pawan Budhwar
Aston 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, 2018). 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). 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., 2015). 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 (c.f Shaffer et al., 2012; Morris & Snell, 2011; Pudelko & 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).
Questions such as the above are often multi-level in nature. Thus, our sub-theme proposes 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, language 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., 2015)?

  • 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., 2015)?

  • 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., 2015)?

  • What is the role of language and corporate language policies in facilitating global work and talent management?

  • What further theoretical insights and methodological approaches might contribute to the future development of talent management? How could this push the boundaries of international business and management research? How could we further improve theorizing of global work phenomena?

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

  • 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.
  • 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 (6), 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 (4), 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 (2), 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 (4), 1282–1327.
  • Thite, M., Budhwar, P., & 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 (5), 1181–1206.
  • Welch, D.E., & Welch, L.S. (2018): “Developing multilingual capacity: A challenge for the multinational enterprise.” Journal of Management, 44 (3), 854–869.
  • Wood, G., & Budhwar, P. (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, United Kingdom. Her research interests include organisation behaviour, strategic and international HRM. Charmi has published articles in leading scholarly journals including the ‘Journal of Management’, ‘Human Resource Management’, ‘Human Resource Management Journal’, ‘Journal of World Business’, and ‘Human Resource Management Review’ amongst others, and practitioners’ journals such as ‘MIT Sloan Management Review and Harvard Business Review’.
Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki is Chair of International Business, University of Vienna, Austria, and Visiting Professor at Leeds University Business School, United Kingdom. Her research interests refer to qualitative research, language in international business and family firm internationalization. Emmanuella has published in leading academic journals including the ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Journal of International Business Studies’, ‘Journal of World Business’, and ‘Journal of Management Studies’ among others.
Pawan Budhwar s the 50th Anniversary Professor of International HRM and Head of Aston Business School, United Kingdom. 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. Pawan has published over 130 articles in leading journals and has also written and/or coedited 25 books on HRM-related topics for different national and regional contexts.