International Human Resource Management

Module description


The aim of this module is to consider the context, theory and practice of international human resource management (IHRM) – with a particular focus on HRM issues in an international context as well as working abroad. The module aims to critically consider the emergence of IHRM as a discipline and its practices within a global context. Emphasis is placed on debates associated with the utilisation of human resources in an international context, including migration and labour markets. It aims to analyse specific HRM areas in the international arena such as comparative employee relations and participation, international staffing and expatriation, training and development, as well as compensation and performance management. Different national business systems in Europe, the U.S., East Asia and developing countries, and the HRM models which exist there, will be considered.

Additional Information:


This module looks at International and Comparative Human Resource Management and how it responds to globalisation, so countries all over the world are brought into consideration. Expatriation and how companies manage their expatriated staff during international assignments is a major theme explored in this module.


Most of the resources for this module are available on the ELE (Exeter Learning Environment).

External Engagement

Previously, we have had the author of the text book, International and Comparative Human Resource Management, give a talk on outsourcing and off-shoring. International experts/practitioners on topics relevant to the module will be invited to deliver a guest lecture.


This module equips students with key skills for working abroad: knowing what to expect, what the pitfalls might be, what to look out for and how to do it better. They are taught about different cultures from around the world and the importance of acquiring good cultural training and appreciation before working abroad. Also, students are familiarised with the expatriation and repatriation cycle throughout the module.

Full module specification

Module title:International Human Resource Management
Module code:BEMM059
Module level:M
Academic year:2016/7
Module lecturers:
  • Dr David Guttormsen - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:


Module aims

The aim of this module is to consider the context, theory and practice of international human resource management (IHRM) – with a particular focus on HRM issues in an international context as well as working abroad. The module aims to cover critical consideration of the emergence of IHRM as a discipline and practices within a global context.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. describe the theoretical underpinnings of international HRM
  • 2. apply HR theories to HR practice with sensitivity to the international context, as well as multicultural and ethical concerns in international work-life
  • 3. actively engage with debates of aspects of HR practice in an international context
  • 4. critically analyse HRM rhetoric, implications, and opportunities in an international context
  • 5. produce appropriate theoretical and practical solutions to organisational and legal frameworks as well as problems concerning employment in the international arena
  • 6. understand the grievance, discipline and dismissal process in relation to employment in an international work-context

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 7. clearly explain of the importance of the competitive environment (in relation to management generally and international HRM specifically) and how changes in the external social and economic environments influence international HRM decisions
  • 8. engage in debates on cultural and institutional environments and their effects (in relation to management generally and international HRM specifically) with multicultural and multilingual groups of peers

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. think analytically and conduct critical analysis of practical challenges in international human resource management
  • 10. apply reason and justification within discussion
  • 11. practise independent study skills, including critically assess credibility of (electronic) data obtained from various sources
  • 12. demonstrate written communication skills
  • 13. apply theory and conceptual frameworks to practical problems

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact Hours21Lectures
Contact Hours6Seminars (2-hour seminars across three weeks)

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Critical thinking skills through problem-solving of a 'real-life' case-study (commercial aspect of international human resource management)Solving two questions in groups (during the first seminar)3-5, 8-10, & 12Oral feedback given to the groups collectively (seminar)

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Coursework. Individual written assignment to be completed80Maximum 3,000 words1-13Written feedback (ELE)
Online Multiple Choice Test201 hour (30 questions)1, 2, 6, 8, 11, & 13Automated feedback (ELE)

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Coursework. Individual written assignmentRe-submission of written assignment (80%)1-13August Examination Period
Online Multiple Choice TestRe-submission of the Multiple Choice Test (20%)1, 2, 6, 9, 11, & 13August Examination Period

Re-assessment notes

Students are asked to re-sit only the assessment element that they are referred or deferred.

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction to Global Trends and Key Players in IHRM
  • Institutional and Cross-Cultural Influences on IHRM
  • Staffing the MNE: Recruitment and Selection in the International Context
  • International Reward & Employee Retention
  • International Labour Relations and Employee Participation
  • Reputation in the International Context
  • Migration (Lessons from Europe)
  • Self-Initiated Expatriation and HRM Practices (Lessons from Americas and Africa)
  • Working Across Borders: Expatriation Cycle and Intercultural Issues
  • Expatriation and Repatriation (Lessons from the Asia-Pacific Region and Developing Countries)
  • Revision and Overview: International Human Resource Management and Expatriation in an International Context 

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading – students are expected to own a copy of the core text:

Özbilgin, M.F., Groutsis, D., & Harvey, W.S. (2014), International Human Resource Management. Cambridge: University Press.


Relevant journals include (non-exhaustive list):

International Journal of Human Resource Management

Human Relations

Human Resource Management Review

Human Resource Management (US)

Human Resource Management Journal (UK)

International Business Review

Academy of Management Journal

Human Resource Development International

Human Resource Management Review

Journal of International Management

International Journal of Management Reviews

International Studies of Management & Organization

International Journal of Cross-Cultural Management

Cross-Cultural & Strategic Management

Scandinavian Journal of Management

Employee Relations

Journal of Global Mobility

Journal of World Business

International Journal of Intercultural Relations

Web based and electronic resources: the module has a fully developed site on ELE where an extensive array of module materials can be found including lecture outlines, and suggested reading on a per topic basis.

Module has an active ELE page?


Origin date


Last revision date