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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Business School : Business Studies

Undergraduate Course: International HRM and Comparative Employment Relations (BUST10121)

Course Outline
SchoolBusiness School CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe exclusive national perspective within which the study of employment relations and their management has traditionally been approached is now considered of declining relevance in a context of 'globalisation', increasing influence of the EU, and the evolving international human resource strategies of transnational corporations. This course aims to provide students with an integrated overview of the key conflicts in HR/employment relations ┐ that is, how employment practices becoming increasingly internationalised while differences in the employment systems of different countries continue to persist.
Course description Rather than a country-by-country account, which can be excessively descriptive and devoid of analytical cohesion, the course adopts a thematic approach. The chosen themes and topics are structured in order to address the theoretical frameworks and on-going debates in the fields of international HRM and comparative employment relations. Within this framework, the chief integrative theme is the current debate concerning whether employment relations systems and practices are converging or diverging on a global basis and the role played by global actors such as pan-national bodies (e.g. the European Union) and multinationals (MNCs).

The first section of the course begins with an overview of the divergent characteristics of national systems, the sources of such diversity, and how systems might be classified. The major controversy of convergence versus divergence of national employment relations systems is initially introduced, a theme developed in the context of subsequent sessions that undertake a more in-depth comparative analysis of ┐national employment systems┐ ┐ specifically considering differences in production regimes, and systems of welfare, training and market flexibility.

The next section considers the influence of multinational/transnational organisations and their reaction to this national vs. global dichotomy. A key feature of MNCs' HR practices is the degree of transfer and adaptation between home and host countries, with further variations across industry sectors. Moreover, the response of these international organisations in terms of internal HR strategies is also explored ┐ specifically focusing on the use of expatriates (as a traditional source of home country power) and the process of HR outsourcing across international subsidiaries. These issues are explored through careful readings of survey and case study results.


- Globalization, Multinationals and the Impact on HRM
- Methodological Approaches to HRM ┐ Culturalism and Institutionalism
- Comparative Analysis of Employment and Production Regimes
- Labour Market Flexibility and Market Regulation
- How welfare state systems shape employment patterns
- International Comparison of Training Systems
- The transfer of human resource practices in multinational companies Part 1: Isomorphism and home/host country effects
- The transfer of human resource practices in multinationals Part 2: Political processes: benchmarking and coercive comparisons
- Contemporary Issues in Expatriate Management
- HR Outsourcing

Student Learning Experience

Each two-hour session combines a formal lecture and student group presentations on pre-assigned case studies during the class.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Organisational Behaviour 2 (BUST08028) OR Human Resource Management 2 (BUST08027) OR Organisation Studies (BUST08011) OR Managing Employment Relations (BUST08010)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Business Studies courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Discuss critically the implications of 'globalisation' and the key employment relations and HRM issues and controversies that are associated with the term.
  2. Identify and discuss critically ongoing changes in the key characteristics of the international business environment.
  3. Understand and discuss critically of the characteristics of different national systems of employment relations among advanced capitalist economies, including an understanding of the sources of diversity.
  4. Critically evaluate the internationalisation of employment relations, and the HR policies and practices of multinational companies.
  5. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the convergence/divergence debate.
Reading List
As this is a relatively new and constantly evolving field, course texts are in short supply that can do justice to the variety of topics covered. Accordingly, the course is chiefly built upon current periodical material. Journals most cited are: the British Journal of Industrial Relations (BJIR); European Journal of Industrial Relations (EJIR); Industrial Relations Journal (IRJ); and the International Journal of Human Resource Management (IJHRM) (all available via the university's library website).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Cognitive skills

On completion of the course, students should be able to:

(a) digest, analyse and synthesise a broad range of factual and theoretical material in reaching a reasoned and informed understanding of international developments in the labour sphere;
(b) demonstrate critical facility and confidence to challenge contrary viewpoints.

Key skills

On completion of coursework, students should:
(a) demonstrate ability to understand and synthesise a wide range of complex issues in the field of international HRM and comparative labour relations;
(b) have developed adeptness in the use of websites and other electronic sources, as well as an appreciation of their limitations;
(c) be able to apply theoretical knowledge to real-life organisations;
(d) develop presentation and team work skills;
(e) be able to produce an essay on the subject which demonstrates the ability: to distil diverse and sometimes confusing assessments in a cogent fashion; to structure the writing in an orderly manner; to write clearly and succinctly; and to reach a conclusion which is consistent with the supporting argument;
(f) demonstrate an ability, under examination conditions, to draw upon both the course material and more-widely drawn information for the writing of the degree examination.
Additional Class Delivery Information The class will meet weekly on Mondays from 11.10 am-1.00 pm in Semester 1.
Course organiserDr Sara Chaudhry
Tel: (0131 6)51 5672
Course secretaryMr Paul Kydd
Tel: (0131 6)50 3824
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