Understanding the HRM Role in MNCs from a Social Capital Perspective

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DOI: 10.21522/TIJMG.2015.02.02.Art006

Authors : Joshua Akanyonge


The purpose of this study is two-fold: to investigate the degree to which the formal structure of the HR organization is reflected in the concrete activities of the HR function; and to explore the extent to which social capital, as a resource, impacts on the actual HR functional activities. The study sought to contribute to our knowledge of HR functional roles in MNCs by taking into account how social capital may operate on the enacting of these roles. Most prior studies have concentrated on HR roles, instead of ascertaining role performance from HR professionals’ actual day-to-day activities. Knowing what HR professionals actually do is the strongest gauge for determining if the function is strategically aligned to serving line needs or not. This study aimed to employ social capital as a tool to conceptualize HR formal roles versus actual activities in an exploratory setting. It was based on a single case study of an MNC subsidiary. A total of 10 interviews were conducted. The finding showed the HR function was highly evaluated for administrative tasks. However, strong callswere made on HR to increase their involvement with a particular focus on activities related to the business support role. There appeared to be a connection between HR social capital and the actual activities of the HR organization. Although strong formal linkages between the HR function and line management were evident, the level of informal relationships was weak between them. This is a slice of case study research in a subsidiary, and therefore the findings may not be generalizable. Further quantitative research is recommended. The practical implication for HR professionals is that careful consideration should be taken in observing how social capital between the HR function and the larger organization adds value.

Keywords: HRM, HR roles, social capital theory, case study


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