Human Resource Management And Europe Introduction HR Management

Most of the nation states of Europe, as we know them, have emerged over the past 150 years, and many of these have experienced considerable changes in borders and ethnic composition since then. This process has radically continued with the break-up of the former Soviet Union and its satellite states, and the former Yugoslavia. Thus the concept of a unified Europe begs many questions, which must fundamentally include an answer to ‘What is Europe?’ and ‘How unified can it be?’

The latter question has already caused considerable controversy over the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, and the former over whether Eastern European states, as well as Turkey, should be included in the European Union. Answers to these basic but essential questions have a fundamental influence on the shaping of economic, political and social policy. This chapter will examine Europe from the perspective of HRM, but as we have noted in the previous chapter on international HRM, the concept itself has a number of interpretations depending on the context in which it is used, which include:

exploring the European Union social dimension (Gold, 1993; Wise and Gibb, 1992; Leat, 1998); trends in industrial relations systems and individual European countries (Baglioni and Crouch, 1990; Ferner and Hyman, 1992, 1998; Hyman and Ferner, 1994; van Ruysseveldt and Visser, 1996); labour market trends across Europe (Adnett, 1996; Addison and Siebert, 1997); under the banner of HRM of individual countries (Brewster et al., 1992; Clark, 1996); and in analysis of HRM trends (Lane, 1989; Hegewisch and Brewster, 1993; Brewster and Hegewisch, 1994; Kirkbride, 1994; Sparrow and Hiltrop, 1994). Some of these surveys confine themselves to EU countries only and others to a wider range of European nations, including the former Soviet Union and its satellites.

Thus the field is wide, and a chapter on this subject can only hope to give a general picture of the major issues and trends. There are a number of issues that have been the subject of discussion and debate over the past decade and longer, and some that have emerged more recently. The aim of this chapter is to divide issues into those that are relevant to the European Union and those that have wider significance for all European countries, and concern general trends in HRM and HR-related issues.

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