International HRM strategies

IKEA International A/S is a Swedish company founded in 1943 with its headquarters in Denmark. It is one of the world's top retailers of furniture, home furnishings, and house wares. The company designs its own items, and sells them in more than 140 IKEA stores that are spread throughout approximately 30 different countries worldwide. The company also peddles its merchandise through mail-order, distributing its thick catalogs once a year in the areas surrounding its store locations. IKEA is characterized by its efforts to offer high-quality items at low prices. To save money for itself and its customers, the company buys items in bulk, ships and stores items unassembled using flat packaging. However customers assemble many items on their own at home. The company is owned by founder Ingvar Kamprad's Netherlands-based charitable foundation, Ingka Holding B.V. (International Directory of Company Histories, 1999).

Human resource managements are those activities that a company undertakes in order to make use of it s human resources in an effective way (Dowling & Welch, 2004). They include a number of activities such as human resource planning, staffing, performance, management, training and development, compensation and benefits, and industrial relations. International human resource management (IHRM) deals with more less the same issues as Human Resource Management (HRM), but on top of that also has to deal with the cultural aspects of operating in many different nations and regions (Dowling & Welch, 2004). IKEA has adapted a cross- cultural approach in its human resource management strategies globally. For instance, the company’s entry in Spain has been done through communicating and instilling its Swedish character and the IKEA culture into the Spanish subsidiary. Therefore, in Spain the company has recruited Spanish internationals as human resource managers (Jackson, 2002).

The company has also decided to run cultural seminars so as to help everyone discuss their experience and opinions about culture and how it is put in practice. Development programmes are also carried out by the company to ensure retention of talents within the company, offering possibilities of making a career in IKEA. Co- workers with potential to become group leaders also go through the aspirant programme. Similarly group leaders with potential to become departmental heads are invited to participate in the selling in the IKEA store training programme. In association with this development programmes there is also succession planning from group level upwards. Annual trainings are also formulated by the company in Spain, these includes number of off-the-job training courses. However these off-job training programmes are always in line with the National Agreement with Trade Unions which require companies to provide employees with the general skills they can use outside the company in order for them to have a value in the job market (Jackson, 2002).

The company does its selection on the basis of competencies, which are defined by as the starting point that is the glossary terms used in the IKEA little dictionary. These competencies are the one used as the basis of evaluation of co- workers in their development talks. This approach generally has helped the company in making decisions about adapting its culture to the expectations of Spanish employees, although it has some limitations and therefore should be supplemented with detailed knowledge about management systems in the respective countries (Jackson, 2002)

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