Comparison of HR Practices in Eastern and Western Countries
Differences in human resources approaches between Eastern and Western countries reflect the differences in their respective sub-cultures. Business looks different in Canada than in China. Western values such as democracy, capitalism and human rights look profoundly different when applied in the East. Indigenous values clash with values coming from other worldviews, which can create different HR practices for those doing business globally.
While human resource leaders have the dual role of focusing on both process and person, Eastern nations tend to value the person over the process. Businesses based there often nurture their employees with HR policies that take advantage of cultural attributes that lend themselves to the practice of HR management. Issues such as hospitality, loyalty and long-term employer-employee relationships provide fertile ground for HR policies focused on retention, training and employee development.
HR managers cultivate bottom-line perspective in the West by helping individuals to be successful. A no-nonsense approach allows HR leaders to let employees develop through relevant feedback during the performance management process. This practice is difficult to put through in the East, as corporations contend with the idea of shame. Similarly, lower resistance to change in business in Western contexts allows HR professionals to carry out organizational change effectively. For example, an American-based company can push through a new vacation policy easily in the United States, but when applying the policy to the Philippines gathering opinions of workers likely would be required.
Eastern cultures tend to maintain a community perspective that benefits the implementation of HR practices by thinking of the whole in addition to the parts. HR policies that keep the needs of the community in mind will be successful. For example, in Japan, non-HR leaders take their turns as HR leaders for a season. Their expertise in business enables them to be successful in the HR role. Once they return to their business role, they are more effective because of their human resource adventure. If this model were carried out in the West, it could be unsuccessful, since leaders tend to be more specialized in a particular area.
When it comes to discrimination, HR functions well in the West, where cultural norms expect and demand equal rights. Eastern cultures traditionally view discrimination as more of a part of everyday life, preferring older workers, men over women and rights of the majority rather than minorities. However, the function of HR in global corporations is to promote and maintain corporate standards in applicable ways for members who come from diverse nations. Honoring the collective is balanced by respecting the individual. HR in the West plays a substantive role in finding the strengths of traditional human resource responsibilities and parlaying those strengths into advantages for host cultures, benefiting both the bottom line and the human capital with which that company is so heavily invested.