Overview of the IHRM Portfolio Assessment
The aim of this assessment is to help you to develop the knowledge, understanding and key skills that are required by today’s HR professionals working in global environments. By working through the activities in this portfolio, you will be engaging with the theory presented to you in class and applying it to an international case.
On successful completion of this portfolio you will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the following:
• The role of the international HR function in contributing to the broader objectives and strategies of international business
• Key challenges faced by international managers and the IHRM function.
• The theory and practice related to the full range of IHRM functions (training and development, selection, performance management, reward).
• The practical skills required by managers engaged in the strategic management of people within international organisations.
• The ethical implications of human resources management in international business.
Expatriate Selection: HLE in Russia
A Case Study
HLE originated in Dartford, England in 1987, as a small engineering company founded by two Imperial College London civil engineering graduates, Louis LeChat and Michael Horace. After successfully winning a small contract to work on the Channel Tunnel project in 1989, HLE grew from strength to strength, finally being acquired in 2005 by the Stairway Engineering Group, a collective of French, Belgian, Dutch and British engineering firms operating in the European railtrack sector.
Today, HLE is one of the leading European providers of automatic railway route setting systems. Over the past five years, firms in the Stairway Engineering have been bidding for contracts in Eastern Europe and, in particular, in Russia, where there have been an increasing number of prospects for growth. In 2009, HLE narrowly missed being one of the firms in the Stairway group to work on Imeretinsky Kurort, the train station built for 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Since then, HLE have been looking for opportunities for growth in the East.
In March 2016, Robert Plant was appointed Head of Personnel Development at HLE. Plant was primarily chosen for the role because of his fifteen years of HR experience in the engineering sector. Prior to joining HLE, Robert Plant spent five years with Airbus Europe, gaining a deep understanding of international employment regulations and providing support for employees from North Wales to Cadiz, Spain, based in global locations including China, Saudi Arabia and the USA.
Yesterday Robert Plant received a call from the Stairway Engineering head office in Brussels. Alain Durand, Director of Joint Ventures, Mergers and Acquisitions informed Robert that a decision had been taken at board level for an eight-year joint venture with a Russian government backed firm to work on a proposed new railway network in Kamchatka, Siberia. HLE have been chosen to lead the operations and Robert Plant has been tasked with the recruitment of a Quality Compliance manager. This position must be filled within the next four weeks.
Congratulations! You have just been hired by HLE to join the international staffing support team. There will be six tasks for you to complete over the next few weeks!Task 1
HLE is keen to hire a Quality Compliance manager as soon as possible. You receive a message asking you to write a job specification for the role of Quality Compliance Manager.
Following his telephone conversation with Alain Durand, Robert Plant scribbled down some notes about the Quality Compliance manager role. You have been sent the notes he made to help you write the job description:
• Candidate must be familiar with joint venture’s objectives and targets
• Travel to France, Germany, Russia will be necessary, including 3-4 month stays in Siberia to oversee the project
• First joint venture in Russia – so important!!! But no HLE has prior experience of working in Russia! Does the candidate need to speak Russian? What about other experience of international assignments?
• Job description doesn’t need very precise technical competency – what about administration tasks?
• Performance target? Performance management?
You may use the template provided on Moodle help you set out the job description. Please make sure that you include some academic literature in this task. You may decide to include an introductory paragraph or some concluding remarks, for example.
The position has been advertised internally across the Stairway Engineering Group and a shortlist of candidates has been made. This morning you received an email from Robert Plant’s office asking you to work through the shortlist and discuss each of the shortlisted candidate’s profile. You MUST draw upon the appropriate expatriate selection criteria literature to justify your responses.
Name & age
Overview of candidate
Peter Vert (46)
Born in Tallinn. Estonia. Production engineer, educated in France and Germany. 15 years with Trainon (Stairway) in Toulouse, France. Led 2 successful projects over last 3 years in Poland and France. Married, wife is freelance journalist. One daughter at university in UK.
13:00 – 13:45
13:45 – 14:30
Daniel Koch (35)
Born in Hamburg, Germany, Russian speaker (mother is Ukrainian). Educated in UK. Spent 3 years with Omnicom Engineering, York (UK) as quality surveyor before joining HLE (Stairway) in 2013. Daniel is single.
13:45 – 14:30
13:00 – 13:45
Aline Jacques (32)
Production engineer on loan to the Belgian Railtek’s (Stairway) London office for joint venture analysis and technical issues. Previously spent 3 years with Railtek’s R&D team in Brussels working on technologies to be applied in this Russian project. Robert Plant met her yesterday and is impressed with her understanding of corporate level concerns and strategic issues. Married, her husband is an aeronautical engineer in Brussels. They have 2 children – 4 & 7 years.
14:30 – 15:15
15:15 – 16:00
When you come into work this morning, you are expecting to hear about the selection interviews for the Quality Compliance Manager role. You check your emails and find this email from Robert Plant to all staff:
I’m delighted to let you know that George Connor has been appointed as Quality Compliance Manager and will be leading the new HLE project in conjunction with the Russian government at Kamchatka. As many of you will know, George has been an engineer with HLE for over 20 years and worked on some of our biggest projects across Europe, including our award-winning railtrack project in sub-Saharan Africa. I know you will join me in congratulating George on his success.
You were not told about the selection process that HLE uses to recruit candidates for this level of final selection; nevertheless, you were very surprised that none of the short-listed candidates were chosen for the Quality Compliance manager role.
When you talk to your colleague about the choice to hire someone who was not on the shortlist, your colleague just smiles and replies: “Well, George Connor and Robert Plant go way back!”.
Using your understanding of expatriate selection from Harris and Brewster’s (1999) work, analyse the selection process that was used to recruit George Connor. To what extent does this selection process fit with “best practice” expatriate selection as well as the strategy needs of the firm?
George Connor is to be briefed for his new role as Quality Compliance Manager later this week. Today you are asked to conduct some brief research into Russia which will be used as part of Connor’s briefing. You have been asked to submit a report of around 800 words which includes the following:
• Brief overview of country e.g. population, languages, infrastructure
• Short introduction to the Kamchatka region
• Russian business culture/norms
• Day-to-day living for expatriates
You may include graphics such as charts and maps. Remember that the aim of this exercise is to produce materials suitable for pre-departure training so think carefully about the report’s objectives and its target audience.
Your report needs to be formally set out (for example, introduction and conclusion), it should draw on academic sources as well as websites and it must be properly referenced.
Someone in your office tells you that Aline Jacques, who was originally shortlisted for the role of Quality Compliance Manager on the HLE assignment in Russia, might also be joining the project, but as a technical analyst. It seems that Robert Plant is worried about sending Aline Jacques to Russia. Robert Plant is not sure that this assignment is quite right for a woman because of the risks involved. To what extent do you believe that females should not be considered for some international assignments? Please draw on academic sources to justify your response.
Robert Plant has been impressed with your work so far. Today you have received an email directly from him asking you to help with the preparations for the briefing sessions for George Connor and Aline Jacques.
Your task is to draft a full day programme, in order to prepare George and Aline for their assignment. The day is expected to last between 9am and 5pm, with breaks for refreshments and lunch. The programme should include a range of different sessions that will give the two individuals a realistic impression of what they should expect when they begin working on the project in Siberia. You should also think about specific information that each individual will be interested in and where they might find sources of support.
Please make sure that you include academic literature in this task. You may, for example, decide to produce an accompanying explanation which justifies the activities that you have selected or provide some guidance notes for the sessions where academic sources are utilised.
You have been given the following information about the international assignees:
George Connor (54) – George has been with HLE in the UK for 24 years in a number of different roles. He has worked on around 20 international projects and gone on at least 7-8 international assignments, lasting between 6 months and 2 years to countries including Tanzania, Kenya, China, Poland and France. George is married with 2 sons at university. George’s wife, Claire, usually accompanies her husband on any trips longer than 1 month. Claire is an illustrator for children’s books and works remotely.
Aline Jacques (32) – Aline is Belgian. She has been with Railtek, Belgium for 4 years. Railtek, like HLE, is part of the Stairway Engineering Group. This will not only be Aline’s first experience of working for another firm within Stairway, but also her first real international assignment. She is currently on secondment to Railtek’s London office but has been commuting back and forth from Brussels, spending only 1-2 nights per week in London. Aline speaks English, French, Dutch, German and some Portuguese. She has never visited Russia before. Aline is married with 2 young children.