The August 2014 issue of People Management, in the article ‘What are you still doing here?’, makes the point that globalisation is placing increasing demands on the HR profession to have international and cultural experience. It suggests that the numbers of human resource (HR) professionals moving internationally has never been higher, particularly as young people entering this career track seek to travel and become truly international people. It also points out the growing demand for HR professionals to work in emerging economies.
There is no doubt that to manage a globally mobile employee population and expatriates out on assignments, be these long- or short-term or some form of international commuting arrangement, it is a good idea to spend time working abroad yourself to gain an understanding of the culture and how business is conducted in different countries. International HRM research indicates that to reach the top of the career ladder, international experience is a prerequisite. In the past this has not been considered as imperative for HR as for other professionals. Yet, as organisations continue to expand their operations globally, so an understanding and practical experience of how to manage people in different cultural domains becomes part and parcel of HR managers’ required competency sets.
International assignment, mobility and HR managers and advisors can all be hard pressed to take time out from busy home country based operational HQs to manage a stint of working abroad, even if it is highly developmental. And organisations in their search for cost trimming and return on investment may not see the benefit of sending such personnel abroad to develop their international competencies. Of course, this is a pity and may be viewed as a lost opportunity but it is possible to gain cultural understanding through sharing HR practice in a highly diverse learning environment in the UK.
CIPD approved HRM courses do include international HRM elements within traditional modules such as those that address resourcing and talent management, HRM strategic context and learning and talent development. However, Master's and Bachelors programmes that have specific teaching and learning strategies to encourage students to study in culturally diverse environments and take cross-cultural management and international HRM modules broaden HR professionals’ knowledge and practical experiences further while they undertake their academic CIPD qualification route. Undertaking such modules can also provide opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD) outside of a full degree programme of academic study. For example, the BA and MA HRM courses at the London Guildhall Faculty of Business & Law offer the opportunity to study cross-cultural management in a highly diverse and mature student setting, an option choice not usually found in other institutions’ CIPD approved degree awards.