Transferring HR practices within multinational corporations


Prof. Ingmar Björkman, Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, PO Box 479, 00101 Helsinki, Finland. Email:


There is extensive evidence that planned transfers of management practices by the headquarters of multinational corporations (MNCs) to foreign subsidiaries are not always successful. In this article, we outline a model of factors influencing the transfer of HR practices to MNC units abroad. The article has two main contributions. First, we develop a more holistic understanding of the outcome of HR practice transfer as encompassing three dimensions: implementation, internalisation and integration. Second, we expand current explanations of transfers of practices to foreign units. We argue that transfer of HR practices is a social process where the governance mechanisms used by the MNC, characteristics of the subsidiary HR systems, the social relationship between the subsidiary and MNC headquarters, and the transfer approach taken by headquarters management will influence the outcome of the process.