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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
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', and the evolving international human resource strategies of multinational 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 multinational corporations (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 introduced, a theme developed through undertaking a more in-depth comparative analysis of 'national employment systems' specifically considering differences in liberal market economies and coordinated market economies as outlined by the Varieties of Capitalism framework.

The next section critically examines the myriad challenges that MNCs face in a highly complex international business context, and provides students with various theoretical frameworks to critically analyse and understand contemporary trends in international human resource management. Topics such as global staffing, knowledge transfer, cross-border mergers and acquisitions, and global value chain are explored through careful readings of survey and case study results.


Week 1: Globalisation, National Systems and Multinational Companies
Week 2: National Employment Systems and IHRM
Week 3: Employment Relations in Liberal Market Economies
Week 4: Employment Relations in Coordinated Market Economies
Week 5: Convergence and Divergence in Employment Relations
Week 6: Global Staffing and Expatriate Management
Week 7: Transfer of Practices in MNCs
Week 8: IHRM in Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions
Week 9: Global Value Chain and IHRM
Week 10: International Labour Standards and Corporate Codes of Conduct

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)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students must have at least 4 Business courses at grade B or above. This MUST INCLUDE one course equivalent to BUST08028 Organisational Behaviour 2 OR BUST08027 Human Resource Management 2. This course cannot be taken alongside BUST08028 Organisational Behaviour 2 or BUST08027 Human Resource Management 2. 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
Edwards, T. and Reed, C., (2016), International Human Resource Management: Globalization, National Systems and Multinational Companies, 3rd ed, Pearson.

Bamber, G. Lansbury, R. Wailes, N. Wright, C., (2016), International & Comparative Employment Relations, 6th ed. Sage.

A full reading list will be available online in first week.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and 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 Thursdays from 09:00 am-10:50 am in Semester 2.
Course organiserDr Keyan Lai
Course secretaryMrs Judi Robertson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3900
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