This article will respond to the case study written by Fischer (2012) titled Corporate Human Resource Management in International Setting. The case study examines human resource management in Midwest Education. The company manufactures high-tech educational tools to be used in classrooms. The company intends to open a new factory in Finland to start selling in Scandinavian countries. The internationalization manager, David Smith, has to select one of the three candidates to fill in the job as the plant manager.

The main objective of the employee selection process is to obtain a person-job fit and a person-organization fit (Dessler, 2020), as well as a person-team fit (Torrington et al., 2020). These three objectives should act as the criteria for the selection process. It means that the selected employees should not only have the knowledge and skill that will be demanded by the job function, but they should also have the traits that will be demanded by the team and the organization.

However, selecting a candidate that reaches the three objectives simultaneously may not be possible because people usually have different strengths and weaknesses. Usually, companies will have to find the best tradeoff between the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates. Research has been focused on creating selection tools and tests that can make this process more efficient (Bolander & Sandberg, 2013) but in the end, the company can only choose from a limited pool of candidates. In this case, there are three candidates: Karin Johansson, Sakari Matilla, and John Adams.

Analysis of the Candidate based on person-job, person-team, and person-organization fit

The vacant job is for the factory manager position in Finland. The company described that the job will demand a manager that is savvy in quality management, has a good vision and innovation mindset in designing educational products in Scandinavian markets, as well as experience in managing a factory’s operational cycle (Fischer, 2012). The factory is purchased from a local company and it already has a mature workforce to be managed.

Karin Johansson (27) has experience in the high-tech industry, but she lacks experience in the education industry. While she is energetic and career-oriented, she is relatively young and inexperienced to manage a mature workforce. The language barrier may be another disadvantage for her since she does not speak Finnish. In terms of person-job and person-team fit, she may have several disadvantages that must be addressed. She may have a good person-organization fit since she seemed to have a character that will be needed by the organization.

The second candidate, Sakari Matilla (45), was a former manager of a local company that was bought by Midwest. He will be an experienced factory manager that has also worked in a high-tech educational company. He is Finnish, so there will be no cultural or language barrier for him to start working. He also has established a good relationship with the mature workforce of the factory. The factory workers liked to work with him.

In terms of person-job fit and team-job fit, Sakari Matilla is the best candidate out of the three. However, he has openly shared his opinion that he did not like the purchase of his former company. He did not talk kindly about Midwest Education. This attitude may turn out to be counter-productive for the organization. So, in terms of person-organization fit, he has a problematic issue that has to be dealt with.

The third candidate, John Adams (36), is a current employee of the company in the US. He has worked as a production department manager for five years. He understands the organization and the job, but he has to spend his time as an expatriate if he is going to take the job. He has a cultural and language barrier to overcome and may find it difficult for his family to adapt to the new environment. He has also openly stated that he is willing to stay abroad for only two years.

Managing expatriates is usually more difficult and can be very expensive. When the expatriates and their families can not adapt to the new environment, they may ask for a return and they can even leave the company altogether. Research implied that cultural differences in the new country are not the biggest issue, but it’s the expatriate’s cross-cultural awareness and ability to adapt as well as the family’s (Deresky, 2017). Torrington et al. (2020) stated that about 10% to 20% of American managers that take expatriate tasks returned before schedule, while 30% who completed the tasks failed to meet the company’s standard.

In terms of person-job and team-job fit, John Adams has several issues that need to be addressed, such as the suitability of his management styles, the language barrier, and the cultural barrier. In terms of person-organizational fit, the company may need to look at whether the benefit of assigning an expatriate is worth the costs and the risks. The company will be required to perform a thorough analysis of whether the candidate and his family can take the assignment with full commitment.

Corporate Human Resource Management Case Study: The Best Candidate

In my opinion, the best candidate is Sakari Matilla. He has the biggest person-job fit and team-job fit. However, his unfavorable person-organization fit must be dealt with. The internationalization manager, David Smith, should convince him that the company will not taint the legacy of his former company. Instead, it will continue to promote the best educational products. The company should also convince him that he will be valued by providing additional benefits as well as an improvement in salary.

If David Smith can not change his bad perception of the company, I think he should pursue Karin Johansson. She has the right attitude and motivation to excel in the job. While she may not have the experience in educational industry, she is experienced in the high-tech and innovation-driven industry. It may add a fresh perspective and ultimately improve the company’s value.

I am against the idea of assigning an expatriate to fill the job since the job can be performed by local talents. Expatriates will be necessary for highly specialized jobs that should be performed by in-house experienced talents. The program has a high failure rate and the costs are very expensive. The company should only choose this option when the benefits surpassed the costs and the risks.

Also read about Case Study Review: From OEM Supplier to a Global Leader

References

Bolander, P., & Sandberg, J. (2013). How Employee Selection Decisions are Made in Practice. Organization Studies, 34(3), 285–311. https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840612464757

Deresky, H. (2017). International management: Managing across borders and cultures: Text and cases (9th global ed.). Harlow: Pearson.

Dessler, G. (2020). Human Resource Management. Pearson.

Fischer, A. K. (2012). Corporate Human Resource Management In An International Setting. Journal of Business Case Studies, 8(5), 621-626. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SUqqw25lRpO_waLWnv6kJ6VE9YWtVC3I/view?usp=sharing

Torrington, D., Hall, L., Taylor, S., & Atkinson, C. (2020). Human Resource Management. Pearson.

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