Cultural Diversity in Multinational Organisations
Document Type Conference Paper
Irish Academy of Management Conference, Galway, Ireland, 2005
With the rhetoric in international management espousing the value of being able to access and capitalise on the knowledge of a workforce with international experience in order to compete globally and the need to embrace diversity (including cultural or ethnic diversity) in and across organisations, this paper discusses the findings from a qualitative research undertaking where senior and middle managers working for multinational organisations in a cross-section of industry sectors were interviewed. A total of twenty in-depth interviews were conducted with “foreign” managers based in Europe, the majority hired on local contracts. The findings presented in this paper outline the value of following an international career from the personal viewpoint. The interviewees’ perceptions of their additional competency of multicultural experience and the corresponding value recognition by their employers are also described. While most participants in the study acknowledge their international status as having been a factor in their recruitment and professional role within the organisation, the opportunities for hierarchical advancement within their employing organisations are contingent on the respective country job market conditions and policies and internal politics which at times appear prejudiced against the “foreign” workforce. This naturally has repercussions for the retention of key employees which have the international acumen supposedly of major importance for multinational organisations operating in the global economy. Where strategic human resource management propounds the competitive advantage organisations can achieve through the effective use of their human capital, this paper discusses the “reality” as perceived by the interviewees in this study, outlining the implications for strategic human resource management in practice.