We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

Share your Research

Manuscript deadline
31 July 2021

Cover image - The International Journal of Human Resource Management

The International Journal of Human Resource Management

Special Issue Editor(s)

Chris Brewster, Henley Business School, University of Reading, United Kingdom
[email protected]

Paul N Gooderham, Norwegian School of Economics / Norges Handelshøyskole, Bergen
[email protected]

Wolfgang Mayrhofer, The Interdisciplinary Institute of Management and Organisational Behaviour, WU Wien, Austria
[email protected]

Paresha N Sinha, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, New Zealand
[email protected]

Connie Zheng, UniSA Business School, University of South Australia
[email protected]

Visit JournalArticles

The Temporal-Spatial Context and HRM In Multinational Enterprises

Special Issue Overview

This special issue will explore the impact of time and space on human resource management (HRM) in multinational enterprises (MNEs), including both profit and non-profit organisations. We seek empirical papers – both quantitative and qualitative – that advance our understanding of the varieties of temporal-spatial contexts and their impacts on managing people in MNEs.

The study of context has been important in the field of HRM generally (Jackson & Schuler, 1995; Paauwe & Farndale, 2014; Cooke, 2018) and much emphasised in international HRM in particular (Brewster et al., 2016; Farndale et al., 2017; Cooke et al., 2019). For MNEs, the significance of context in making sense of HRM and its effect over time and across different geographical locations is widely acknowledged (Johns, 2006; Schuler & Jackson, 2005; Child & Marinova, 2014; Brewster et al., 2016; Cooke et al., 2017). The study of context in the sub-field of international HRM in MNEs tends to be contained within the parameters of culture and institutions (Meyer et al., 2011; Gooderham et al., 2019; Cooke et al., 2019). However, both parameters tend to be rather static and ignore change, whereas MNEs are complex organisations with dynamic interactions at the national and international level (Morgan & Kristensen, 2006), with direct connections to the wider international business community (Welch & Björkman, 2015). Arguably, we lack detail on the interplay between the headquarters’ (HQ) legitimation of constantly developing international business strategies and MNE subsidiary’s legitimacy judgments over time about these changing strategies (Balogun, Fahy & Vaara, 2019); and how these would affect employees’ perception of the different space they operate in. With the rapid development of emerging multinational enterprises (EMNEs) from developing countries, there is a growing need to understand the interplay between the historical and geographical home and host country factors, the role of mimicry by EMNEs (Chung, Brewster & Bozkurt, 2020), and the speed of transfer and/ or continuity of HRM policies and practices across different geographic locations. Indeed, time and space introduce the much-needed non-static orientation essential for further theorising HRM and theory building of international HRM (George & Jones, 2000) as they determine both change and stability in MNEs’ cross-border HRM strategies and examine the impact of MNEs on societies as a whole (Farndale, Brewster & Poutsma, 2008; Geppert & Williams, 2006).

The search for sound IHRM theory, especially to explain the phenomenon of standardisation and differentiation of HRM patterns in MNEs, has been the focus of constant endeavour for scholars and researchers in the field, but progress has been slow. Do MNEs try to transfer standardised HRM systems across borders and, if so, what do they standardise, why and how? To what extent do MNEs consider different contexts and develop localised and differentiated HRM systems in order to achieve their objectives (Farndale et al., 2017)? What are the changing patterns of HRM practices over the different stages of MNEs’ globalisation process? Does this vary with country (i.e. space) and their choice of HRM strategies?

There have been studies in the fields of applied psychology (e.g. Lee et al., 2006; Roe, 2008; Mannino et al., 2017) and organisational behaviour (e.g. Costas & Grey, 2014; Boon & Biron, 2016; Jansen & Shipp, 2019; Kim, Schuh & Cai, 2020) that have used time and space in theory building (George & Jones, 2000; Quattrone & Hopper, 2005; Taylor & Spicer, 2007). Can we apply similar logics to understanding how, when and why certain HRM systems are adopted by MNEs over time and across different space? Halford and Leonard (2005) argue that the concepts of space (the where) and time (the when) are important in unpacking the part that context plays in organisational manoeuvres, especially around managed change (the how). Space is not a simple natural given. All life is ‘emplaced’ and as soon as people or organisations use space, it also becomes a social phenomenon, e.g. who uses what space with what purpose and what are the effects of this (Gieryn, 2000). Similarly, time is not an objective given, measured by clocks and calendars. Among others, it addresses the issue of a socio-temporal order that regulates the social interaction by four parameters: 1) the order in which things take place (sequential structure); 2) how long they last (duration); 3) when they happen (temporal location); and 4) how often they occur (rate of recurrence) (Zerubavel, 1982).

Objectives of the Special Issue

We believe that explicit attention to time and space as more deeply contextualised explanations in HRM theory building would add value to the ongoing debate on universalism vs. contextualism and convergence v. divergence in the field of IHRM. Therefore, this special issue is intended to achieve the following objectives:
• To understand how time and space shape IHRM theory
• To incorporate the roles of time and space in conceptualising HRM in MNEs
• To account for time and space more explicitly in the study of HRM in MNEs
• To develop empirical research designs that consider time and space in both qualitative and quantitative research on HRM in MNEs

Suggested Research Questions

Contributors to this special issue are encouraged to rigorously investigate the roles of time and space for further understanding of HRM in MNEs.

Regarding time, potential contributors are encouraged to explore the various aspects, but not limited to the following:
• How do we define time in research on HRM in MNEs?
• What is the role of time in theorising HRM in MNEs?
• How do time zone differences influence the efficiency of managing human resources for MNEs?
• What are intervals between using HRM practices and their effects on MNEs’ global operation?
• Why would the effects of time concepts (usually influenced by culture) be different for HRM practices?
• How would the effects of different sets of HRM practices employed by MNEs on collective and individual views of time?
• What are some historical reasons that have caused some ‘outdated’ employment relations models and practices to continue enjoying legitimacy in some subsidiary locations of MNEs?
• When and how does a downsizing strategy that was selectively implemented in the past get transferred rapidly across all locations?

Regarding space, the following research questions, though not entirely restricted to, could be addressed:
• What are the effects of varying spatial characteristics (e.g. climate, height, terrain) for HRM in MNEs and their subsidiaries located in different regions of a country?
• What are the roles of various conceptualizations of space in HRM in MNEs?
• Why certain practices such as ‘virtual team work’ or ‘working from home’ are reshaping the notion of ‘felt distance’ within which employees work in a global setting?
• How is space constructed and used by individuals and MNEs in different countries and how does that influence HRM policies, practices, and outcomes?
• What are the effects of perceived physical distance between country of work and home on individual performance?
• From a socio-materiality perspective, how do different views on shapes, colours, images etc. (e.g. corporate website, logo and design of global and local products and services) influence the use and effects of HRM tools and practices in MNEs?
• Do spatial rural-urban differences of the underlying conceptualizations of space affect HRM in MNEs?

Regarding both time and space, researchers are encouraged to submit papers that address the following non-exhausted questions:
• How can we define time and space in research for HRM in MNEs?
• What are roles of time and space in research for HRM in MNEs?
• Why MNEs incrementally develop, refine, relax, reintroduce or even discard their HRM control mechanisms over time in some but not all locations?
• Why/how would the new ‘work environment’ impact on the individual performance and job satisfaction of cross border teams who have different notions of time and space?
• How do highly diverse local contexts help change or stabilise the choice of HRM strategies by MNEs and their subsidiaries over time and across different geographical space?
• Why/how would historical events (such as 9/11, GFC and recent global pandemic) drive highly diverse contexts to become more homogenous in terms of implementing global standardised HRM strategy for MNEs?
• What factors drive the differences between short term and long term HRM outcomes achieved by MNEs in different locations?

Looking to Publish your Research?

We aim to make publishing with Taylor & Francis a rewarding experience for all our authors. Please visit our Author Services website for more information and guidance, and do contact us if there is anything we can help with!

Submission Instructions

Submission process

Authors should submit an electronic copy of their manuscript with title page as outlined below. Please select this Special Issue Title when submitting your paper to the IJHRM journal website.

The title page should include the names, titles, professional affiliations and contact information of the authors. Authors’ names should appear on the title page only. Authors should refrain from revealing their identity in the body of the manuscript. The paper will then go through a double-blind review of the paper using similar criteria to those for any paper submitted to IJHRM. For additional guidelines with respect to formatting and so on, please consult ‘Instructions to Authors’ on the IJHRM’s website.


Full papers should be submitted between 31 May – 31 July 2021. It is expected that the Special Issue will be published in 2022-23. Please feel free to contact any of the Special Issue’s editors if you want further comment or guidance.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article