Culture and Human Resource Management

Due to the globalization of corporate operations around the world, it is paramount for global corporations to adjust their operations to the international human resource management standards. Owing to this fact, companies must develop a strategic human resource plan which supplies the diverse cultural, structural and personnel technique demands, present in the countries within which they operate (Rao, 2010). One of these companies is the Arik Airlines, a Nigerian airline corporation, which was supposedly purchased by an American corporation. This essay presents a strategic human resource plan that highlights the major differences between the two cultures and the implications of this contrast in the management. This essay also explains the human resource strategy the American company should adopt, the kind of employee mix that should be hired, and the challenges of hiring different types of employees.

Differences between the American and Nigerian Cultures

Power Distance

Power distance in the country describes the degree and acceptance of the less powerful members by an institution as power is usually distributed unevenly. It expresses the cultural attitude of a country towards inequalities among its people. The power distance in Nigeria ranks higher as most of the people accept the hierarchical order of management in which everybody has a part to play. It is characterized by centralization and subordinate supervision where employees are always told what to do (The Hofstede Center, 2015). On the contrary, the U.S. ranks lower on the power distance index since the inequalities in terms of power must be endorsed by both the subordinates and leaders. To this effect, the level of subordinate control in most organizations is minimal, and management largely relies on policies and procedures opposed to direct control.

Individualism

Individualism implies a society level of interdependence among its members within a given country. It focuses on the human self-image and can either be individualist or collectivist. Nigeria belongs to the collectivist society where people are organized in groups within which people take care of each other to show loyalty (The Hofstede Center, 2015). This fact is supported by the existence of long-term commitments among members of a particular group, such as family or work relationships. This is contrary to the U.S. that shows the highest level of individualistic culture. Thus, a hierarchy is only established for the convenience of employees, despite the managers’ expectations to be consulted (The Hofstede Center, 2015). Furthermore, this type of individualist society dictates people only to take care of themselves and their immediate families with the minimal reliance on other authorities.

Uncertainty Avoidance

Uncertainty Avoidance indicates society methods of dealing with the fact that the future in unknown. This causes the level of anxiety which stimulates the members of society to adopt cultures, beliefs and institutions mitigate the occurrence of these uncertainties. The United States ranks below average, scoring a forty-six mark on the uncertainty avoidance scale. This suggests that the U.S. maintains a rational degree of acceptance for new innovations, ideas, and fair inclination to try something new in terms of business practices that adopt new technology or processes. O the other hand, Nigeria reaches a fifty-five mark on this scale which shows no clear preferences for taking risks or trying out new ideas while being involved in business activities.

Implications of These Cultural Differences on Management of Nigerian Employees

Work Processes

Imagine that Arik Airlines was purchased by the American company. The new management will begin exerting new working policies that reflect the American culture. One of the implications of the newly implemented system will be a change in working processes and procedures, which are different from those that Nigerian employees are used to. Consequently, there will be a minimal direct control of working procedures in the company. Instead, the company will put more emphasis on the policy and procedure that are required in the performance of specific tasks. Therefore, the Nigerian employees will need to do such tasks with minimal supervision. Work will also be organized into projects which will concentrate on the completion.

Work Relationships

Secondly, the work relationships will also undergo significant changes with a shift from collectivism to individualism. As the management will come from the American managers, individualism will prevail. Relationships will be no longer organized within groups with a common habit for collectivism. Instead, the working groups will have specific tasks to perform. Because of this, success will not be built on personal connections but rather on the outcomes of the given tasks. If needed, expatriates with the required set of technical skills may be hired. This is because the American culture can work with international staff easily, even if they do not know them well. Nevertheless, every staff member must have required skills and potential to contribute positively to the success of the company.

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Type of Human Resource Management Strategy to Be Adopted

Considering the nature of the company, the best approach to human resource management will be geocentric. This strategy ensures that the job positions are assigned to individuals who are best suited for them from the home country, the host country, the third-country nationals, or a mix thereof (Steers & Nardon, 2006). Being a multinational company, it should do everything possible that a mix of these three types of employees fit. Through this strategy, the company strives to conduct business globally while benefit from the common communication practices of different countries. Employees should, therefore, be recruited from all these countries considering their skills to perform the company’s operations requirements.

Reasoning

Arik is an airline company. Adopting the geocentric strategy in human resource management will guarantee that the company will attain a competitive advantage in the regions there it may launch its subsidiaries. This is vital as it presents an opportunity to devise ways of doing business which is sensitive to the communication and business demands in other countries (Rao, 2010). This gives the Arik Airline flexibility that it requires to operate as one of the largest airline companies in Africa. The kind of mix adopted in the hiring process corresponds to the company’s management as its purpose is to obtain highly skilled employees who fit the task demands.

Kind of Employee Mix

A higher percentage should be allocated to Nigerian nation occupying top-level management positions because they possess a better understanding of the local market as well as experience, which they have gained through the years. The American management should also hire experts from their own country to represent the interests of their mother country in the company. The experts will present new strategies for doing business and innovations that will have a positive impact on the company’s success. Also, expatriates from third-party countries should only be employed on a technical basis. This will involve employing staff from foreign nationals on a basis of technical competencies, such as pilots, as well as global experience in the industry.

Challenges of Each Type of Employee

Nigerian Employees (Host Country Nationals)

Employing Nigerian workers will cause resistance to the new changes in policy and procedure. Adapting to these new structural strategies of conducting business will be difficult at the initial stages (Steers & Nardon, 2006). In effect, there will be a lag in the performance of the company due to the resultant inefficiencies during operations.

American Employees (Home Country Nationals)

Employing American workers will also have a negative effect on the performance of the company. This may be attributed to the fact that these employees may not be well conversant with the local demands of conducting business activities in Nigeria (The Hofstede Center, 2015). In the future, the company may suffer from losing its competitive edge locally, which may even be transmitted to its subsidiaries in other countries.

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Third-Country Nationals

Hiring workers from a different country, other than the host or home countries, may create a conflict of interest during the company’s operation. Since they have been employees on the basis of their expertise, they are likely to perform their tasks in a manner that does not reflect the interest of the host and home country national’s objectives (Rao, 2010). Therefore, it may take a significant amount of time to find a common interest or a collective ground to base their operations.

Reasoning

Nationals from these three countries possess interests and cultures of their own. In a view of this, each group is likely to oppose a change to their normal way of conducting business when placed in a single organization. Acquiring the services of competent employees in terms of experience, skills and knowledge are, therefore, paramount (Steers & Nardon, 2006). Finding a common ground for the operation to harmonize the diversity in the staff will be vital to the success of the corporation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the global business world presents an environment that requires companies to comply with the international standards of human resource management. It is also important to understand different cultures of the human resource team in the countries of operation as well as their local demands of undertaking business. Success requires the development of strategic human resource management methods that represent the diversity that exists in the global business. It is also essential to determine the correct mix of employees to be allocated to the various positions in the company. This will help to increase their competitive advantages globally.

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