Using Expatriates for Adapting Subsidiaries’ Employment Modes to Different Market Economies

University of Zurich, Institute of Business Administration, UZH Business Working Paper No. 372, 2017

46 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2018 Last revised: 9 Feb 2018

See all articles by Johannes Meuer

Johannes Meuer

ETH Zurich

Marlies Kluike

University of Tübingen - School of Business and Economics

Uschi Backes-Gellner

University of Zurich - Institute for Business Administration; Swiss Leading House

Kerstin Pull

University of Tuebingen - School of Business and Economics

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

Because the extent to which multinational companies (MNCs) benefit from foreign subsidiaries depends on how effectively MNCs manage their foreign subsidiaries’ workforce, the international management literature has long focused on how MNCs transfer Human Resource Management (HRM) practices. However, the literature has only vaguely dealt with institutional differences between host and home countries, often simplifying these differences under the umbrella of institutional or cultural distance. This article investigates how MNCs use expatriates to adjust subsidiaries’ employment modes to different market economies. We define employment modes as bundles of HRM and industrial relations (IR) practices implemented at the firm level and examine the employment modes of 76 subsidiaries of U.S. MNCs in a coordinated market economy (Germany), a hybrid market economy (Switzerland), and a liberal market economy (United Kingdom). Our results reveal substantial differences in the expatriation strategies of MNCs that depend not only on the international focus of the MNC but also on the differences in IR between the parent and subsidiary’s environment. Our findings qualify the role of expatriates in adjusting subsidiaries’ employment modes to different market economies and highlight the boundary conditions of integrating HRM with IR practices in the management of foreign subsidiaries.

Keywords: Expatriation, International Human Resource Management, Industrial Relations, Varieties of Capitalism, fsQCA

Suggested Citation

Meuer, Johannes and Kluike, Marlies and Backes-Gellner, Uschi and Pull, Kerstin, Using Expatriates for Adapting Subsidiaries’ Employment Modes to Different Market Economies (2017). University of Zurich, Institute of Business Administration, UZH Business Working Paper No. 372, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3110778 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3110778

Johannes Meuer (Contact Author)

ETH Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 101
ZUE F7
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

Marlies Kluike

University of Tübingen - School of Business and Economics ( email )

Personal und Organisation
Nauklerstr. 47
Tübingen, 72074
Germany

Uschi Backes-Gellner

University of Zurich - Institute for Business Administration ( email )

Plattenstrasse 14
8032 Zurich
Switzerland
+41 44 6344281 (Phone)
+41 44 6344370 (Fax)

Swiss Leading House ( email )

Plattenstrasse 14
Zurich, 8032
Switzerland

Kerstin Pull

University of Tuebingen - School of Business and Economics ( email )

Nauklerstr. 47
Tuebingen, D-72074
Germany

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
30
Abstract Views
155
PlumX Metrics