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Subject HRM within Europe
Context Comparison between Europe and USA
Summary Concerning HRM in Europe, there are clear country differences which can be understood in the context of each national culture and its manifestation in history, law, institutions and trade union and employing organisation structures; or in terms of regional clusters (Brewster 1993, p. 775).

"The conclusion of earlier studies in HR (Sparrow et al. 1994; Hegewisch et al. 1993;Pieper 1990) was that Anglo-Saxon models of HR did not fit comfortably with the reality of HR in mainland Europe. At best mainland European countries could be grouped into three: 'Latin', 'Central' and 'Nordic'. So, HRM and employee relations in the 'Latin' countries of France, Portugal, Italy and Spain are characterised  by ideological divisions between the trade union confederations, a persistently strong state presence in business ownership, and the key role of trade unions in regulating many aspects of employee relations and welfare. Conversely the 'Central' countries of Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria would feature a strong corporatist macro-economic management, a strong legalistic 'dual system' of interest representation in employee relations, to exert co-determination over wide areas of corporate business practice, including training and development, and trade union movements (with the exception of the Netherlands) that are non-political and all-encompassing. Finally, the 'Nordic' countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden would feature a highly centralised and institutionalised manner of handling collective bargaining based on a long-standing compromise between business and labour, endorsed by predominantly social democratic hegemony in political life.
    However, a recent publication (Brewster et al. 2000) would argue that the Netherlands, UK and Ireland share much in common with the 'Nordic' group. The key features identified are a democratic approach to HR, a low power-distance culture, an acceptance of legal regulations, a history of strong state ownership, and high levels of trade union membership. In particular they signal out a strong commitment to competence (especially in the Scandinavian countries, UK, the Netherlands and Ireland), embracing various forms of flexibility that contrasts strongly with southern European countries." ( Woodall et al. 2001a, pp. 341 f.) 

Key terms Context of national culture;  'Latin', 'Central' and 'Nordic' countries in Europe; HRM and employee relations
Source Brewster 1993; Woodall et al. 2001a
Descriptors D-HRD EP01          R01
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