Controversial HRM Practices in the Context of Developing Countries

Dance We are working on a study that examined employees’ perception of ethically controversial Human Resources Management (HRM) practices in the context of multinational companies (MNCs) that operate in developing countries and emerging economies (DCEEs). We tested the predictive validity of individuals’ ethical reasoning as well as their cultural values in terms of ethically controversial practices.

We used self-administered questionnaires from employees working in Turkey and Romania (N=290) that contained various HRM practices to measure perception with regard to ethicality of these practices. Results revealed an endorsement of ethically controversial HRM implementation, including nepotism, in both Turkey and Romania. Additionally, the impact of values (mainly collectivism) was stronger than ethical ideologies of relativism and idealism in predicting individuals’ decisions on ethically controversial practices.

The practical implications for managers are to take into consideration that there is a subjective interpretation of appropriateness of HRM practices. It can be a challenge for any, especially experienced, HR manager to ‘unlearn’ certain norms that motivate decisions, which, in turn, affect people directly. This study shows that an imposition of ‘Western’ interpretation of inappropriateness, i.e., in terms of nepotism, internal priority, age and performance bias, may be perceived differently by employees in DCEEs. Becoming aware of the cultural (more so than ideological) background of managers’ employees may help in understanding these differences. 

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