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Global Staffing Approaches: Ethnocentric, Regiocentric, Polycentric, and Geocentric

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  • 0:01 Employees In Global Staffing
  • 1:22 Ethnocentric Staffing
  • 2:36 Polycentric Staffing
  • 3:45 Regiocentric Staffing
  • 4:43 Geocentric Staffing
  • 5:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Human resource management professionals working for global organizations often have unique staffing choices. In this lesson, you'll learn about ethnocentric staffing, regiocentric staffing and geocentric staffing. A short quiz follows.

Employees in Global Staffing

Gayle works as a human resource specialist for a large multinational conglomerate that employs thousands of people in facilities on every continent except Antarctica. She's part of a team of staffing specialists that helps recruit employees for the company's overseas operations. Gayle and her team may fill some positions with people that are not citizens of the country where they will be employed. Let's take a quick look at the types of employees working on the international stage.

You can generally break employees working in a foreign facility or office of an international company into three categories. Let's take a look.

Ken works in France but is a citizen of the United States, where his company is organized and headquartered. Ken is an expatriate, which is a citizen of the company's home country working in a foreign country. Antoinette is Ken's executive secretary in France, but unlike Ken, she's a citizen of France and is considered a host-country national. She is an employee hired by a foreign company to work in her own country. Hans works for the same company as Ken and Antoinette in France, but he's German. An employee like Hans that is a citizen of one country but is working in another country for a company that is headquartered in a third country is called a third-country national.

Ethnocentric Staffing

Gayle can rely upon ethnocentric staffing, which involves staffing the most important positions in foreign subsidiaries with expatriates from the company's home country. Expatriates are often believed to better represent the interests of the home office and ensure that the foreign offices are aligned with home headquarters. In fact, many expatriates are selected from the company's current employees and are simply transferred to a foreign subsidiary.

Ethnocentric staffing presents advantages and disadvantages. The obvious advantage to ethnocentric staffing is the alignment of interests and perspective of the home office with all foreign subsidiaries abroad. Communication is also easier because there should be no language and cultural barriers. The company may also be able to transfer employees with a clear performance record that will provide some level of predictability.

On the other hand, you can lose local perspective and insights that local employees can provide that may help overcome unique hurdles in each foreign office. Moreover, hiring expatriates tends to be expensive compared to hiring locally. Additionally, a high ratio of expatriates may create local resentment at foreign subsidiaries, which may hurt morale.

Polycentric Staffing

Another option available to Gayle and her team is polycentric staffing. In polycentric staffing, a company will hire host-country nationals for positions in the company from mail room clerks all the way up to the executive suites. Polycentric staffing is particularly feasible in developed countries, such as European countries, Canada, Australia and Japan, where highly educated and trained employees can be easily located.

Polycentric staffing has advantages and disadvantages. Host-country nationals will be able to better guide the company on local market conditions, politics, laws and culture at each foreign location. Use of local employees also sends a message to the country and its consumers that the company is willing to make a commitment to the country and its people. Local employees are also cheaper, as there are no relocation expenses and premium compensation for working abroad. Of course, relying on locals means there may be some disconnect in perspective and interests with the home country. Locals may put local interests above the company's broader interests.

Regiocentric Staffing

Regiocentric staffing is a lot like polycentric staffing in that host-country nationals staff each foreign subsidiary to a high degree. However, company offices and facilities are grouped into regions and work as a single unit with a fair degree of autonomy from the home headquarters. A region can consist of a group of countries. Each region develops its own HR policies and practices. Employees may transfer between each country in the region but don't usually go outside their home region.

Let's look at an example. Since Gayle's company has facilities in most of the European Union, her company may employ a regiocentric staffing strategy. All offices in Europe are staffed by citizens of European countries and are subject to a consistent set of HR policies and procedures that apply to all company locations in Europe. Employees may be transferred within Europe but are not usually transferred to the home office in the United States.

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