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).
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.