Human Resources Systems in the BRIC Countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China)
How does industrial work develop in the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC)? The project examines whether multinational companies contribute to a convergence of the development paths of industrial work in the triad countries and the emerging markets through standardization of human resource systems, or whether a divergence of separate “worlds of work” can be recorded.
The point of departure is the hypothesis that the matching between the human resource system and the production system is an important factor for the successful development of companies. This is exemplified by the Toyota Production System (TPS) which is imitated by a large number of companies globally. Important factors for the effectiveness of TPS in Japan are carefully matched processes of recruitment, team organization, human resource development and incentive design. Current research on human resource systems only marginally includes the interdependence of human resource and production systems; in addition, it almost exclusively focuses on companies from Europe and the USA.
The research project combines two comparisons: between German, Japanese and domestic automotive producers in each of the BRIC countries, as well as between the BRIC countries themselves. Japanese manufacturers were chosen because of the standard-setting role of TPS in the sector, and due to the reputation of Japanese companies as heralds of a successful transnational standardization of production systems. By including local car manufacturers, domestic human resource practices are also to be examined. International human resource research, looking at the transfer of management standards within multinational companies, as well research on the transfer of production systems serve as the most important theoretical points of reference.
Following research on human resource-related causes of TPS, the questions guiding this project focus on four central aspects of human resource systems:
- The role of human resources: what is the role and influence of the parent company’s and of the subsidiary’s human resource management in formulating standards? How is the cooperation between human resources and production?
- Incentive systems and human resource development: are there structured career paths within the company, also for workers? How are development paths and careers regulated (evaluation and selection processes) and what kind of incentive effects can be expected with regard to performance, learning, and cooperation? What are the employees’ expectations concerning development opportunities, rewarding performance, and fairness of incentive systems in BRIC countries?
- Cooperation between status groups and functional groups: how do German, Japanese, and domestic companies shape work organization and process optimization in the BRIC countries? How are socialization, social cohesion and control in teams supported by cultural norms and operational processes? How do styles of leadership and cultural status differences (workers/clerical workers, semi-skilled labor/skilled labor) affect cooperation among teams and superiors, as well as between direct production teams and indirect areas?
- Participation and organized interests: are cooperative forms of work organization transferred from companies to BRIC countries, or do traditional images of authority prevail? How do employees view self-organization and hierarchies? How do domestic industrial relations institutions affect the companies?