MG478      Half Unit
The Management of Human Resources in Global Companies

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible



This course is compulsory on the MSc in Human Resources and Organisations (Human Resource Management/CIPD) and MSc in Human Resources and Organisations (International Employment Relations and Human Resource Management). This course is available on the Global MSc in Management, Global MSc in Management (MBA Exchange), MBA Exchange, MSc in Human Resources and Organisations (Organisational Behaviour) and MSc in Management (1 Year Programme). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course focuses on the management of human resources in global corporations. The central theme in the course is the link between HR strategy and business strategy. The course involves an examination of how diverse global firms articulate and execute global HR strategies and how these strategies are reflected in a variety of HR practices such as global compensation, global talent management, global performance management, global value chains and labour standards, global diversity policies, global employment relations, and the management of HR in global mergers and acquisitions. Given the absence of empirical studies of HR practices in global corporations, the method of instruction is through the analysis of cases, supplemented by lectures and guest lectures from Global HR leaders. This is a more practical course, but informed by HR theories that students would have been exposed to in the introductory HRM course (MG480 Management of Human Resources: Strategies and Policy), as well as other courses. Students without the required theoretical background will be provided with supplemental readings.

In the course modules, we will:

  • Evaluate the strategic choices facing global corporations, including the choice between adopting highly centralized or predominantly decentralized HR policies, with regard to a range of HR issues such as performance management, compensation and diversity.
  • Understand HR considerations in the outsourcing and offshoring of work; and the role of HRM in managing international mergers and acquisitions.
  • Analyse how institutions and culture affect the HR practices and employment relations in diverse global corporations from advanced and emerging market countries.
  • Analyse the challenges faced by global corporations in structuring global assignments with specific reference to global mobility (expatriation and repatriation of global managers), and how corporations are dealing with global talent management.
  • Taking a global value chain approach, examine how global firms extend their HRM/ER policies to their supply chain, and evaluate the efficacy of methods to improve labour standards and human rights in global supply chains.



11 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Teaching will be supplemented by guest lectures from leading industry practitioners.  These are optional but highly recommended.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

During the first week of classes, students will be instructed in the art of case analysis, and will be instructed as to what is required in case memos.  Students may elect to write case memos for Week 2, which will be unassessed, but instructors will provide collective feedback. 

formative take-home case analysis will be given in Week 4, which will be graded during the reading week and written feedback provided by the marker. This case analysis is a time-limited project that requires an analysis of the case problem, a solution to the case, and a statement of broad take-aways (anchored in either practice or theoretical literature). In particular, students should be able to articulate what are the key lessons from the case for HR theory and practice. The case will be made available to the students on Monday morning of Week 4. The deadline for submission will be Friday afternoon of Week 4 at 4pm. 

The objective of the case analysis is to develop students' ability to analyse concrete company experiences in order to generate insights for both the practice of HRM in global companies and the development of new theory.

Indicative reading

Harzing, A-W.and Ruysseveldt, J.V. (2004) International Human Resource Management, Second Edition. London: Sage Publications.

Rubery, J. and D. Grimshaw (2003) The organization of employment: An International Perspective. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, NY: Palgrave McMillan.

Catteneo, O., G. Gereffi, and C. Staritz (2010) Global Value Chains in a Postcrisis World. The World Bank Press.

David Marsden. A Theory of Employment Systems: Microfoundations of Societal Diversity. Oxford University Press, 1999.


Class participation (10%), case analysis (30%) and take home exam (60%).

For the case analysis memos, each student will be expected to provide an individual solution to the case and articulate the lessons learned from the case. The take home exam will consist of a case and a comprehensive reflective essay question.

The take home exam questions will be released to students in Week 1 of ST and will be due for submission the following week.

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2018/19: 121

Average class size 2018/19: 15

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication