Oxford University Press - Online Resource Centres

Sitkin & Bowen: International Business 2e

Chapter 14


Australian Human Resources Institute

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Department of Labor

European Professional Women’s Network (PWN)

European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)

Institute of Directors

Institute of Human Resource Management, Kenya

International Labour Organization

US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


Brewster, C., Sparrow, P. and Vernon, G. (2007), International Human Resource Management. London: CIPD.

Dowling, P.J., Festing, M. and Engle, A. (2008), International Human Resource Management: Managing People in a Multinational Context. London: Thomson Learning.

Harzing, A-W and Ruysseveldt van, J. (2004), (eds) International Human Resource Management. London: Sage.

Leopold, J. and Harris, L. (2009), (eds) The Strategic Managing of Human Resources. 2nd edn. Harlow: Pearson Education.


Euro Asia Journal of Management (EAJM): Macau Foundation

Further Reading

Ethical traditions and dilemmas in IHRM.

It is generally assumed that IHR managers are ethically ‘neutral’ because they operate within wider institutional and professional contexts. They have been trained through degree programmes, professional courses and corporate experience to the point where it can be supposed that they will think, behave and act in ways that do not cause ethical issues to arise.

However, it is also clear that the institutional context, especially within a larger MNE, can have an impact on managers where they have to balance or reconcile various competing issues such as limitations on resources, the need to trade resources within the company, and strategic conflicts at higher levels. It should be acknowledged, too, that any IHR manager is always in a position of negotiation between employees and more senior managers. Particularly for IHR managers, they need to act as intermediaries between different layers within the company.

A range of ethical choices for IHR managers can be viewed on the continuum below:

Complicity in others’ ---- Tolerance ---- Neutrality ---- Ethically assertive
unethical acts of unethical acts orientation (moral courage).

Within any MNE, IHR managers will face these sorts of ethical tensions. They may, for example, have to make decisions in relation to the selection and deployment of a workforce knowing that the corporate view is that the only workers who should be hired are those prepared to accept the lowest possible rates of pay and minimal standard of working conditions. This may conflict with previous agreements reached with trade unions or workers’ associations and/or with the employment laws and regulations of the country.

Bolton, S. and Houlihan, M. (2007), Searching for the Human in Human Resource Management: Theory, Practice and Workplace Contexts. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Lowry, D. (2009) ‘Ethics and strategic human resourcing,’ in Leopold, J. and Harris, L. (2009), (eds) The Strategic Managing of Human Resources. 2nd edn. Harlow: Pearson Education.

Lowry, D. (2006) ‘Human resource managers as ethical decision-makers: mapping the terrain,’ Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 44 (2), pp.171-83.

Winstanley, D. and Woodall, J. (2000) Ethical Issues in Contemporary Human Resource Management. London: Macmillan Business.

European Professional Women’s Network (PWN)

European Professional Women’s Network (European PWN) is Europe’s leading network for professional international women, organising over 600 events a year in 17 major cities in Europe. With 3000 members from more than 90 nationalities and from all business sectors across Europe, the pan-European networking activities are a testimony to the fact that diversity is a source of strength and creativity.

European Professional Women’s Network (European PWN) aims to inspire individuals and corporations of the need and value of increased board diversity and to start developing a pipeline of board-ready senior women. Mirella Visser and Annalisa Gigante, authors of Women on Boards: Moving Mountains (2007), say: “Change is possible and makes business sense but without concrete steps and proactive decision-making, the current rate of growth of female board members indicates that it will take until 2065 to reach parity. Companies and individual women should both develop business strategies to capture and fully utilise the talents of professional women for the betterment of their organizations”. The book Women on Boards: Moving Mountains (2007) is the eighth European PWN publication in the Women@Work series, practical guides aimed to help advance the careers of professional women and to provide guidance for companies interested in attracting, retaining and promoting women. Other books have covered the topics of mentoring, women’s careers in the new millennium, and best practices for corporate diversity.

European PWN designed in-depth research, carried out by Mercer in June 2007, of the backgrounds of Europe’s top 100 board women and top 100 board men. Are there differences in their backgrounds, profiles or the way they reached their Board position? Significant differences were found in terms of visibility, age and routes to the top. Overall the male board members are highly visible and maintain a public profile, are older and have a route to the top that includes more expatriate postings.
Interestingly, male and female executive board members have had an equivalent proportion of line management positions in their career. There are also significant differences in the type of board position held by women: only 11% of the top 100 women hold executive board positions compared with 35% of the men and only 8% of the women are heads of committees versus 27% of the men.

The final sections of Women on Boards: Moving Mountains provide advice both to companies on how to improve their board diversity, through the use of quotas, having more than three women in a team or through appointing female CEOs who are shown to create more diverse boards and executive teams; and advice to women who aspire to board membership, by discussing the need for board training, access to power networks and the role of executive searchers in the ‘search for women’.