IHRM portfolio

The aim of this assessment is to help you to develop the knowledge, understanding and key skills that are required by today’s HR professionals working in global environments. By working through the activities in this portfolio, you will be engaging with the theory presented to you in class and applying it to an international case.

On successful completion of this portfolio you will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the following:
• The role of the international HR function in contributing to the broader objectives and strategies of international business

• Key challenges faced by international managers and the IHRM function.

• The theory and practice related to the full range of IHRM functions (training and development, selection, performance management, reward).

• The practical skills required by managers engaged in the strategic management of people within international organisations.
• The ethical implications of human resources management in international business.

Outline of the IHRM Portfolio Assessment
The portfolio is built around the case of a German company called Vogelhaus. The first five portfolio tasks explore an IHRM-related issue connected to the case and these correspond to the topics covered in the weekly lecture and seminars/tutorials. The final task builds on all your knowledge from the module and requires that you write a report outlining culture and HR practices within a particular country.

Changes to Vogelhaus following the PPV takeover will lead to inevitable staffing changes and there are a number of alternatives available to international firms, each of which brings their own unique benefits and challenges. In this first task, you are asked to draw on the academic literature, in order to analyse some of the challenges related to staffing and will apply these to the actions of the US firm in the case. This question is worth 10 marks.

Please answer the following question:
1. Drawing on the work of Perlmutter (1969), how would you characterise the approach (ethnocentric/polycentric/geocentric) to international staffing undertaken by PPV in the Vogelhaus case? What are the benefits and challenges which might result from this method of staffing? (max 400 words)

Task 2 – National Culture
In this second task we want to consider the role that national culture plays in shaping international management. Having a broad understanding of culture is important and can help us to appreciate why firms act in the way that they do. You will consider how human resource policies and practices are influenced by culture. Vogelhaus and PPV come from very different cultural backgrounds – to what extent will this lead to issues in the management of staff? This question requires you to do some research into the culture and HR practices of the USA and Germany. This question is worth a total of 20 marks.

Please answer the following questions:
1. Drawing on the work of Hofstede and other literature around national culture, compare and contrast the cultures of the USA and Germany. (5 marks) (max 200 words)

2. The predominant approach to HRM in the USA differs greatly to German people management practices. How does the literature characterise HRM in the USA and in Germany? (10 marks) (max 250 words)

3. Taking into consideration the differences that you have identified between German and American HRM, to what extent might the take-over of Vogelhaus lead to a culture clash? (5 marks) (max 150 words)

Task 3 – Recruitment & Selection
There is some interesting literature around the processes whereby multinationals recruit individuals to undertake international assignments. A large company such as PPV will have a significant global talent pool to draw upon and may make use of home, host and third country nationals. However, Vogelhaus has developed its own particular way of selecting staff and managing talent. To what extent will there be a clash of approaches? This question is worth a total of 10 marks.
Please answer the following question:
1. Imagine that you are the new HR director at Vogelhaus. Drawing on selection theory, consider the various options available to the parent company for selecting appropriate international assignees. Outline any changes you would make to the current approach to staffing and justify these changes. Bear in mind that there may be a clash of interests and values. (max 400 words)

Task 4 – Training
PPV, the firm which is set to take over Vogelhaus, intend to send a number of managers from across the international global staffing pool to occupy key positions at Vogelhaus after the sale has been completed. Nevertheless, designing and delivering appropriate pre-departure training needs careful consideration. This question is worth a total of 15 marks.
Please answer the following question:
1. Drawing on relevant literature, suggest which components need to be covered in their pre-departure training for expatriates from across the PPV group (remember that these expatriates could be parent-country nationals or third country nationals)? (max 400 words)

Task 5 – Performance Management
Whereas Vogelhaus has been relatively recent in designing their performance appraisal scheme, PPV have developed a standardised approach to managing performance across the group. In this case, we will consider how the IHRM function can manage performance effectively. To answer these questions effectively, you must refer to the relevant academic literature on international performance management. This question is worth a total of 15 marks.

Please answer the following questions:

1. To what extent is it problematic to manage the performance of international assignees? (5 marks) (max 150 words)

2. PPV take the management of staff performance very seriously and have implemented a standardised appraisal system across the group. What are the benefits and challenges of standardising performance management? (max 300 words) (10 marks)

Task 6 – Report for International HR Function
To conclude the IHRM Portfolio, we want to draw together the theory that you have covered on the IHRM module. For this final task, you are asked to prepare a report on optimising the effectiveness of international assignments for PPV (between 650 and 800 words max). This report is worth 30 marks.

Before you begin, you need to find out what happened after the sale of Vogelhaus, as the saga continued……..
The Vogelhaus Story Continued
Two weeks before the sale of Vogelhaus was finalised, PPV hit the international headlines as Prism Fashions, an Anglo-Irish company owned by the group, was found guilty of using child labour in the production of some of their garments. The German press published news of the sale of Vogelhaus and there was an outcry, especially within social media, with many Germans disappointed – and even angry – that this much-loved German organisation was being sold to an apparently greedy and unscrupulous American multinational.
It has now been 2 years since the sale of Vogelhaus. The scandal of child labour in Prism Fashions resonated throughout the other companies in the PPV group and the company found themselves in the spotlight for several months afterwards. PPV invested heavily in rebuilding the image of the parent group in the wake of the scandal and are now very careful to monitor what happens in their supply chains.
In Germany, after the takeover of Vogelhaus, PPV made a number of significant changes to the company. American buyers made significant cost savings as products were sourced from South East Asia and several lines, including home furnishings, were removed from the stores and made available only in the online stores. These changes were part of a radical move to attract a younger, professional customer and to distance the company somewhat from its original – as one of the American managers called it – shabby chic image.
In terms of HR, James North’s secondment from the parent company was deemed a great success as practices such as performance appraisals and reward were brought in line with other firms in the group. In particular, Vogelhaus’ ‘culture keys’ were replaced by the strategic goals of the parent company.
The outcome for Vogelhaus was not, however, as PPV had expected. After the changes had been implemented, sales fell as customers – especially the loyal German customer base – were disillusioned with the new branding and apparent inferior quality of Vogelhaus products. Moreover, staff at Vogelhaus were unhappy with the changes made and did not welcome the new HR systems put in place by James North and his team; morale was affected and a high turnover of staff followed.
Six months ago, PPV took the decision to close all Vogelhaus stores in Germany and the Netherlands.
Despite the failure of the business in Germany, the Vogelhaus brand continued to flourish elsewhere, mainly through its online store, which was launched quite soon after the sale. In particular, Vogelhaus saw a high volume of sales from customers in Spain, Scandinavia, Asian and South American countries. Since the closure of the Vogelhaus stores, the online store has continued and PPV are considering the possibility of opening Vogelhaus stores outside Germany. Initial research has suggested that there are 25 countries where Vogelhaus might be relocated. The organisation is aware, however, of the fact that it made a number of mistakes when it entered the German market and is keen to learn from these. In particular, the IHR approach has been highlighted as problematic.

Your Task
You have been asked to prepare a report for PPV making recommendations for how the organisation should manage any future international assignees. How can the organisation ensure that the right people are being sent out across the group?
You will be assigned one of the countries below where PPV is looking to relocate the Vogelhaus brand and undertake some research on the country (national culture, HRM style etc). Prepare a report (between 650 and 800 words) for PPV. Your report should include a brief introduction to the country and should go on to consider the approaches to HRM within the country in question.

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