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Not part of the family? The limits to managing the corporate way in international hotel chains

Thompson, Paul and Nickson, Dennis and Jones, Carol (1998) Not part of the family? The limits to managing the corporate way in international hotel chains. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 9 (6). pp. 1048-1063. ISSN 0958-5192

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Companies increasingly seek solutions to the corporate/local dichotomies perceived to be a feature of more traditional approaches to managing across national boundaries. At the human resource level, the rhetoric of transnationalism emphasizes integration being achieved through 'soft' mechanisms, such as corporate culture devices, which encourage all managers to develop an international (for this read corporate) perspective on what they do. In theory, managerial staff are recruited and promoted on a 'best person for the job' basis and national identities are played down. Drawing upon evidence from three international hotel chains (one American, one French and one Swedish), this paper argues that there is a disjuncture between corporate culture devices which assume that they can transcend national origins and the issues of interest and identity which inform the activities and experiences of managers at unit level. The paper suggests that companies need to be aware of the danger of assuming that one can be trained to be 'one of the family'. Rather, we argue that local managers are potentially disadvantaged in terms of career progression as managers from the parent country utilize criteria of acceptability informed by processes of socialization which are more institutionally embedded and derived than has been assumed.