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The University of Southampton

MANG6179 International and Comparative Human Resource Management

Module Overview

Consideration of people management must increasingly be cross-national comparative and international in complexion. This exciting new agenda is challenging and problematic. This module examines international developments and comparative difference in the management of human resources, and explores how managers of people may conceive and use the ‘strategic space’ (Vernon (2006) cited in Brewster et al (2016)) they have to productively shape employment relationships in an international environment.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • aspects of national cultures and their implications for organisations;
  • the role and effects on organisations of social regulation by social actors, i.e. nation states, employment and labour law, unions, employers’ associations and international bodies such as the EU and the ILO;
  • differing HRM practices across countries, in terms e.g. of reward, work organization, training, flexibility and work-life balance;
  • the differing potential roles of HR departments in different countries and in international organizations e.g. in pursuing notions of ‘best practice’ which might be applied internationally;
  • the constraints and opportunities offered by differing national infrastructures of employment relations.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • consider the impact of cross cultural issues for communicating and operating across national boundaries;
  • identify how employment law and joint regulation shape strategic HR choices in different countries;
  • assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of HR support resources and mechanisms in subsidiary/associated companies and gain acceptance for making appropriate constructive adjustments;
  • deal with matters of HRM practice, around e.g. reward, work organisation, training and development and work-life balance in an international context;
  • manage or professionally influence HRM practices with knowledge of notions of ‘best practice’ and their limits;
  • operate with appropriate sensitivity and responsiveness in cross-cultural situations; assert viewpoints in a culturally sensitive way, avoiding offence or misunderstanding, and exercising influence and persuasion in situations where communications are difficult;
  • manage HR departments with different nationally or internationally textured identities.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • operate effectively in terms of international/cross cultural awareness;
  • manage ambiguities arising in international contexts, for example in people management, effectively;
  • pursue individual work-related goals effectively;
  • undertake searches for both qualitative and quantitative information using a range of information sources.


• International HRM: the state of the employment relationship • Comparative HRM: convergence and divergence • Comparative HRM: communication • Comparative HRM: joint regulation • Comparative HRM: training and development • Comparative HRM: work organization and teamwork • Comparative HRM: reward, pay systems and benefits • Comparative HRM: from flexibility to work-life balance and sustainability • Comparative HRM: national HR management • International HRM: MNC choice and national infrastructures of HRM • International HRM: the role of the international HR function • International HRM: promoting best practice from corporate HQ

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Lectures, case studies, directed reading, small and large group discussion Learning activities include: • An individual assignment • Case study problem solving • Directed Reading

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Edwards, Tony and Chris Rees (eds.) (2010). International Human Resource Management. 

Harzing, A. & Ruysseveldt, J.V. (2011). International Human Resource Management. 

Brewster, Chris, Liz Houldsworth, Paul Sparrow and Guy Vernon (2016). International Human Resource Management. 



Set exercises - non-exam


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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