Personnel policies in the European firms: some evidence of the existing model(s) and the potential role of Corporate Universities
This study deals with the attitude of European firms towards personnel policies analysed on a national basis. Provided the relevance of Human Resources (HR) practices in terms of the internal organisation of knowledge of the firm, we assess the main characteristic of personnel policies in 12 European countries both in terms of HR department position within the firm and in terms of human capital development practices. Not only is the issue significant in terms of Human Resource Management but also in terms of the debate on the role of the institutions in determining personnel policies, and notably in terms of the debate on the "varieties of capitalism”. For this purpose the paper develops a cluster analysis among 16 European countries showing the possible influence of institutional models on personnel policies. The same analysis is also developed for intertemporal comparative purposes. The second part of the paper analysis relates personnel policies to the phenomenon of Corporate Universities (CU), being they intended as a vehicle of firms’ capability to react to organisational and technological change. Within the complex relationship between firm’s organization and knowledge CU may in fact represent a consistent way to keep HR departments and firms’ strategies tightly connected, possibly assuming a systemic vision of the firm open to employees and in some cases to other stakeholders. The main features of European Corporate Universities will thus be acknowledged by looking at their main characteristics, with particular reference to their relation with HR departments and to the external factors that have contributed to their development. The paper uses theoretical tools provided by economic literature on training, human capital and knowledge management, combining them with a descriptive analysis of the empirical evidence coming from data on both Corporate Universities and firms’ personnel policy at European level. In particular data on firms’ personnel policy will come from the survey performed in 2005 by Cranet, the largest academic research network dedicated to a comparative analysis of developments in Human Resource Management in public and private organisations. Such data will be integrated by surveys on firms’ training practices at European level and by the (limited) empirical literature dealing with European Corporate Universities.
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