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University of Hull

Hull Business School

Comparative and International Human Resource Management

HRM and Trade Unions in the Czech Republic, France and Kenya

Academic year 2006/2007 February 2007

1. Introduction

We live in a world of changes, thus, we have to adapt quickly to ever changing contextual conditions. Massive changes driven by globalisation or growing competitive pressures, start up new forms of organisations, work and careers. This has created an increasing interest in the international management coordination and control.

First aim of my work is to analyse Human Resource Management in three different countries. I focus on the dilemma of my tutorial presentation and continue to deal with HRM practices in the Czech Republic, France and Kenya.

The importance of trade unions strengthen with their differential structures, strike patterns, levels of bargaining and rights of presentation. I recognise the role of collective bargaining and collective agreements, the influence of trade unions in the political system and their importance for management decisions. From this reason, in second part of my work, I identify the role of Trade Unions and their impact on Czech, French and Kenyan HRM.

The Czech Republic is my country of birth. I evaluate the culture and previous political regime which largely influenced current Human Resource Management in this country. France is a member of the European Union and a democratic state and Kenya is a developing country. So, I set second aim of my work, to compare the culture and historical base of these countries and analyse how it influenced these countries and try to find the similarities and differences among them.

My assessment also contains reflective report on the tutorial presentation and is in the end of this work.

2. Culture

Findings by Trompenaars (1993) and Hostede (1991) proclaim that management theories and practices are modified by national cultures.

According to Johnson (2003) “culture is the combination of acquired experience and values that feed into and influence behaviour and responses of distinct groups”.

Culture is unstable and non-adaptive, the cultural mix is changed through experience. Culture is occasionally subject to transformational change through traumatic events such as the collapse of the Soviet system in 1989 and 1990 which affected not only the Soviet Union but also its satellite states in Eastern Europe (the Czech Republic). The sudden collapse of a whole political, economic and social system put into question long held views, values and practices underpinning political, economic and commercial life (Johnson, 2003). Human resource management practices in one of the Soviet Unions satellite state the Czech Republic is further elaborated in second part of this work.

A key essence of culture is the feeling of a sense of belonging or identity. Language is often an important symbol of belonging to a group and frequently coincides with national boundaries but when it does not, it can be a diverse factor for example in African countries with multiple tribal allegiances, many of which have their own language (Johnson, 2003).

Professor Geert Hofstede conducted the most comprehensive study, in which he described how can cultural factors of each nation influence the values in the workplace. In this section I evaluate cultural dimensions in the world and compare my chosen countries with the world average.

1) In category of power distance, African nations are ranked among the highest power distant cultures. It is the degree to which the less powerful members of society expect the differences in the levels of power (Wikipedia, 2007a). For purpose of this work, to high power distance culture I can subsume also France.

2) Individualism refers to the extent to which people are expected to stand up for themselves, or alternatively act predominantly as a member of the group or organisation. I can bring in that France is an individualistic country in comparison with the rest of the world and Kenya is a collectivistic country. The Czech Republic is essentially a social democracy where consensus and collectivism are culturally embedded in the region in a federalist tradition.

3) Masculinity vs. femininity refers to the value placed on traditionally male or female values. Masculine cultures value competitiveness, assertiveness, ambition, whereas feminine cultures place more value on relationships and quality of life (Itim International, 2007). My chosen countries are moderate feminine in comparison with the world average.

4) To explain appraisal interview behaviour, Hostede (1980) use uncertainty avoidance, reflected in higher differences in formal power and higher tolerance of inequalities of power. People in uncertainty avoiding countries are more emotional, and motivated by inner nervous energy (Itim International, 2007). Uncertainty avoidance is primary in the Czech Republic and France. In table n.1 you can see accurate data.

Table n. 1: Dimensions of culture

World average France Czech Kenya

Uncertainty Avoidance 60 74 80 52

Individualism 40 58 70 27

Masculinity 50 45 40 41

Power distance 52 35 65 64

Source: Itim International, 2007

3. HRM in the Czech Republic

By the outbreak of the Second World War, Czechoslovakia was the largest industrial nation in the Danube area and the sixth largest in Europe. It has a highly skilled population (Kaldova, 1978).

This bright and hopeful development was interrupted by formation of communist regime and its planning economy. Johnson (2003) mentions, the restructuring of organisations in 1989 has been an integral component of institutional change. It had the economic resources and infrastructures to effect a rapid transformation away from socialist institutions, subject to being able to effect the organisational


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