Distinctiveness of human resource management in the Asia Pacific region: typologies and levels

Rowley, C.; Bae, J.; Horak, S. & Bacouel-Jentjens, S. (2017). Distinctiveness of human resource management in the Asia Pacific region: typologies and levels. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 27(10), 1393-1408. DOI: 10.1080/09585192.2016.1189151

With this special issue, we explore the distinctive contextual factors of contemporary human resource management (HRM) in the important Asia Pacific region, in order to contribute new and non-Western insights to the convergence-divergence debate in international HRM. After first establishing a multi-level analytical framework consisting of macro-, meso-, and micro levels, we discuss theoretical trends at each stage which reveal that countries at different developmental stages possess distinctive political-economic frameworks, institutions, cultural features, and value systems. We present four studies that analyze the distinctive features of the respective cultural contexts. These include (1) yongo and informality in HRM in Korea, (2) guanxi in the context of performance appraisal in Western and local banks in China, (3) relationship building by leaders in China and the US, focusing on the role humor plays therein, and, (4) human factors in virtual teamwork with examples from Taiwan, Vietnam, and Indonesia. We draw two major conclusions from our investigation. As HRM systems in the Asia Pacific region are rather heterogenic, we see no trend toward global convergence. Rather, we perceive local systems ‘mixing’ best practice approaches, and that as a result are hybrids. Others tend to diverge. We propose the distinctiveness of HRM in the Asia Pacific region, as revolving around the themes of social ties, informality, and interpersonal trust. Future research could focus on these broad themes in order to understand their respective dynamics better and make HRM systems more efficient and effective.

Keywords: Asia Pacific, convergence, distinctiveness, HRM, levels

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