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The liability of mimicry: implementing ‘Global HRM standards’ in US and Indian subsidiaries of a South Korean MNE

Chung, C., Brewster, C. and Bozkurt, Ö. (2020) The liability of mimicry: implementing ‘Global HRM standards’ in US and Indian subsidiaries of a South Korean MNE. Human Resource Management. ISSN 1099-050X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/hrm.22011


There is increasing evidence that multinational enterprises (MNEs) from less dominant economies tend to mimic and disseminate HRM practices sourced from a dominant economy, usually the USA, to overcome their ‘liabilities of origin’. However, our understanding of the specific challenges involved in the implementation of such practices by firms across different national and subsidiary contexts remains limited. Drawing on evidence from a case study of a South Korean MNE, we examine the extent and ways in which global HRM policies mimicking US practices are implemented across its sales, manufacturing, and research and development subsidiaries in the USA and India. We find discernible differences in the implementation of the global policies both between the two host country sites and across the three function-specific subsidiaries in each country, identifying a range of national and subsidiary-specific factors that inform these variable implementation outcomes. In addition to legitimacy challenges related to the source, appropriateness, and process of transfer, we note a unique form of legitimacy challenge - ‘the liability of mimicry’ - whereby local actors can challenge head office policies on the basis of a claim to superior expertise in the dominant practices, as a particular concern of MNEs from emerging economies.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > International Business and Strategy
ID Code:90297


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