Theorizing the Diffusion of International Human Resource Practices: Towards an Integrated Conceptual Approach

Ifedapo Lanrewaju Adeleye


With the increasing globalization of the world economy and the rapid diffusion of international management
practices, a vast literature has emerged on how and why some of these practices are adopted or rejected by firms.
A central issue in this body of literature is whether firms’ adoption of management practices is triggered by a
need to improve corporate performance (rationalism) or necessitated by institutional factors and constraints
(institutionalism). This review of rationalist and institutionalist conceptual approaches is particularly interesting
given that in the (prescriptive) human resource management literature the rationalist presumption of strategic
choice and managerial autonomy is usually taken for granted, a view institutionalist approaches tend to criticize
for being overly rationalist and acontextual. In concluding, the paper agues that since organizations are faced
with both rationalist and institutionalist pressures in their choice of human resource practices, there is a need for
robust, integrated frameworks that incorporate this duality.

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