International Human Resource Management

Course Description: The course will cover key subject areas within the field of International HRM at the individual level (e.g. the international assignment cycle, global careers, individual learning and development through international work experiences, and competency requirements in the global context), organizational level (e.g. HRM in international mergers and acquisitions, HRM in foreign subsidiaries, and the role of the HR department in multinational corporations), and the comparative level of analysis (differences in HRM across countries, cultures, and regions). The course will also introduce critical perspectives on international HRM.

Learning outcomes: After the completion of the course the participants should have a solid understanding of the major research traditions and the theoretical approaches used to address key substance areas of international HRM, and be to make critically informed decisions about how to integrate this learning into their doctoral research.

Course requirements:The course is based on the view that the participants carry the primary responsibility for their own learning, and that the main task of the instructor(s) is to support the participants in their learning process. Thus, heavy emphasis is placed on the learning activities on the part of each participant.

Participants will be required to:

  • Submit an individual ‘learning diary style’ report in which they reflect on their learning from their reading of the assigned literature listed below. For each chapter and article the reports should contain: (a) own learning points (i.e. what did YOU learn when reading the material?), and (b) questions/issues that you would like to discuss during the reading seminars, as well as reasons why you think these questions/issues are worthy of discussion. For articles, participants must also include a critical reflection [e.g. what was poorly done or presented? what did they not agree with and why?]. The reports can be structured as bullet points, but the points made and the arguments used must be presented so as to be clear to the reader. The assignments are due no later than the day before the seminars begin. Submitting the reports is a pre-requirement for taking part in the classroom seminars.
  • Participate actively in the seminars (max. 3 days).
  • Within two weeks after the end of the seminars, to write and submit a personal reflection (2-3 pages) on your own learning during the seminars and how you plan to use it in your doctoral research.
  • Submit an academic paper on a selected topic within International Human Resource Management. The paper may be written jointly by two students or individually. The paper shall be approximately 15-20 pages in length (font size 12, double-spaced). Important: The participants are to agree upon and discuss their choice of topic as well as their approach with one of the faculty members before beginning the actual writing process. The paper is to be written following the style guide of the International Journal of Human Resource Management. The deadline for the paper will be some 4-5 weeks after the end of the course.

Target group:The course is targeted for but not restricted to PhD students of Management, Human Resource Management, and International Business.

Time: November 2014 (exact dates to be confirmed)

Place: University of Vaasa, Finland

Course Language: English

ECTS: 6 Credits

Number of students: 25

Course work and evaluation: The coursework consists of (i) a pre-reading ‘learning diary style’ report, (ii) a personal reflection concerning the classroom sessions, and (iii) an academic paper. The evaluation of the first two components is pass/fail. The participant’s grade for the course (1-5) is thus based on the academic paper.

Required readings: The assigned reading will consist of select chapters from Stahl, G., Björkman, I. & Morris, S. (2012). Handbook of Research on International Human Resource Management: Second Edition, Edward Elgar, together with a selection of journal articles (to be confirmed). Students are responsible for getting access to the reading and should do this well in advance.

Instructors: Professor Adam Smale, University of Vaasa, Professor Kristiina Mäkelä, Aalto University School of Business, other instructors to be confirmed.

Course coordinator and contact person: Professor Adam Smale

Application deadline: Students are asked to register by sending an e-mail to Adam Smale ( which includes your CV and confirmation of your doctoral status. The deadline for registration is Friday 26th September 2014. Confirmation of acceptance, including the final reading list and instructions for the pre-assignment, will be sent at least four weeks prior to the beginning of the seminars.