Global HR Competencies: Mastering Competitive Value from the Outside-In

Global HR Competencies: Mastering Competitive Value from the Outside-In

by Dave Ulrich, Wayne Brockbank, Jon Younger, Mike Ulrich

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HR thought leader Dave Ulrich — bestselling author of HR Champions, The Why of Work, HR from the Outside In, and more--is back with his international colleagues to unpack and distill the finest, most up-to-the-moment thinking from the HR world. Indeed, this book looks at best practices from companies on every continent, offering an expert survey


HR thought leader Dave Ulrich — bestselling author of HR Champions, The Why of Work, HR from the Outside In, and more--is back with his international colleagues to unpack and distill the finest, most up-to-the-moment thinking from the HR world. Indeed, this book looks at best practices from companies on every continent, offering an expert survey of universal and regional HR dos and don'ts.

Because new and developing global circumstances often require adaptability and changes in best practices, Global HR Competencies documents the decisionand policymaking of some of the world's foremost, leading-edge HR practitioners. Together with his team of researchers, Ulrich has broken down all there is to know about best HR practices around the world--and how they might take shape in the future. Global HR Competencies will teach you:

  • The guiding principles that HR's next generations can't afford to be without
  • How HR professionals integrate across all levels of business life in each major region of the world
  • HR's impact on short-term individual and business performance, and how it can have sustainable impact on customers and society as a whole
  • How to best employ, develop, and make the most of HR professionals, giving you and your organization the maximum advantage — wherever you are in the world

Advance Praise for Global HR Competencies

"An invaluable resource for crafting sustainable organizations in a world of fast-moving technological change and innovation." -- Paul Norman, Chief Human Resources & Corporate Affairs, MTN Group (Africa)

"[Global HR Competencies] brings important research to life with the injection of regional context and local knowledge, turning the findings into lessons for the profession globally." -- Peter Wilson, National President, Australian Human Resources Institute (Australia)

"Provides both the gold standard in global HR competencies, as well as a compelling overview of how these competencies apply to China. Outstanding!" -- Bo Lianming, President, TCL Corporation (China)

"An invaluable guide to boosting the understanding of the nuanced role the HR function plays in different markets. . . . Highly informative." -- William S. Allen, Group Senior Vice President, Group HR, A.P. Møller – Mærsk (Europe)

"An excellent research-based account of how contemporary HR practices are helping corporations across the world excel and globalize. . . . A must-read for CEOs and HR professionals alike." -- Adi Godrej, Chairman, Godrej Group, and President, Confederation of Indian Industry (India)

"Should be read by any HR professional who has a true interest in the standards of excellence of the HR function in each region." -- Eduardo Villar, HR VP, Hochschild Mining (Latin America)

"Will greatly assist any company achieve its strategic goals and objectives." -- Khalid S. Al-Mudaifer, President & CEO, Ma'aden Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Middle East)

"This is a must-read for any leader who is responsible for managing global businesses." -- Dennis W. Shuler, Chief HR Officer and Senior Vice President, The Kellogg Company (North America)

"A must-read for HR professionals." -- Murat Ulker, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Yildiz Holding (Turkey)

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Read an Excerpt

Global HR Competencies

Mastering Competitive Value from the Outside-In

By DAVE ULRICH, Wayne Brockbank, Jon Younger, Mike Ulrich

The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2013Dave Ulrich, Wayne Brockbank, Jon Younger, and Mike Ulrich
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-180268-0




Wayne Brockbank

This book focuses on the competencies and practices that characterize high-performing HR professionals and businesses. We address this issue on both a global and a multiregional scale. That is, several chapters focus on the HR world as a whole. Others focus on specific parts of the world: Africa, Australia and New Zealand, China, Europe, India, Latin America, the Middle East, North America, and Turkey. These chapters examine conditions in each region or country, discussing their implications for business in general and for HR practices in particular. The common point of reference for each chapter is the Human Resource Competency Study (HRCS), which is the world's longest ongoing research on HR competencies and practices. It has generated the largest data set on these issues, considered both globally and on a regional basis.

Tata Group: HR Competencies in Action

The Tata Group, headquartered in Mumbai, India, is the wealthiest conglomerate in India, with 424,365 employees and annual revenues of US$83.3 billion. In 2009, the Reputation Institute ranked it as the eleventh most reputable company in the world. It is an ideal experience to open this book because it has been remarkably effective at balancing complex paradoxes: diversification versus integration, global versus local, economic performance versus social contributions, family legacy versus professional management, and competing through scale versus innovation. It is a role model for any company coping with the contradictions of the twenty-first century. It is also an example of how HR helps confront the organizational challenges inherent in modern life.

The Tata Group consists of 95 companies in seven business sectors: information technology and communications, engineering projects and services, steel and other materials, services (including five-star hotels and life insurance), energy, consumer products, and chemicals. Thus, it is one of the world's most diversified conglomerates. Despite this diversification, it also works to find ways to use commonalities to enhance efficiencies, distribute best practices, provide more unified customer-facing experiences, and sustain the powerful Tata brand.

In 1991, Rajan Tata became chairman of Tata. At that time about 5 percent of Tata's revenue came from outside India. Today about 66 percent of its revenue is from outside the country. This remarkable expansion has come about through a combination of organic growth (as with Tata Consulting Services) and acquisitions (as with Tata Automotive). From 2004 to 2011, Tata acquired almost seven companies per year on average. The most visible of these was Jaguar-Land Rover, acquired in 2008 for US$2.3 billion. In the midst of such growth, Tata works diligently to retain local leadership and line talent. It has gained a reputation for working closely with local government, union, and community leaders to ensure that its acquisitions result in a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Tata managers seek to connect to the society and environment in which they operate.

A noteworthy aspect of Tata is the manner in which it balances its economic and social performance. Its vigorous and sustained financial performance and work ethos are well known. Tata is also strongly committed to improving the quality of life in the communities it serves, building community schools and clinics, founding and supporting universities and institutes, providing scholarships to underprivileged but high-potential students, and helping fund dozens of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). This philanthropic orientation is not just embedded in its collective psyche, it is also embedded in the ownership structure that was established by the founding father of Tata.

In emerging economies, privately held firms tend to be dominated by individual families. For many years Tata's senior management came from the Tata family, but the Tata board has recently appointed someone from outside the family, Cyrus P. Mistry, as deputy chairman and heir apparent to the position of chairman. He was thoroughly vetted by the board as someone who has an outstanding academic background, has participated effectively on the boards of several other companies, is insightful about the future of business in India, has a vision of the global economy, is humble, and has the values necessary to run the Tata group.

Economy and Innovation in Tata

Tata does a remarkable job at competing on the bases of both scale and of innovation. Given India's large population and high rate of poverty, it is not surprising that the "wealth at the bottom of the pyramid" concept would originate there. Within this environment, Tata has mastered scale and disciplined cost control as exemplified by the US$2,500 car, the Nano. At the same time, the company's history reveals a hotbed of innovation.

• 1893: The invention of ring spindles for textile manufacturing

• 1902: India's first luxury hotel (the Taj Mahal)

• 1932: India's first airline

And Tata's legacy of innovation continues today.

• 1995: India's first branded jewelry

• 2002: The world's slimmest designer watch

• 2007: India's first teraflop supercomputer

• 2008: India's first full-length 3-D animated film

Because of Tata's ability to maneuver through such paradoxes, Bloomberg Businessweek has rated it sixth among the world's most innovative companies, right behind Apple, Google, Toyota, GE, and Microsoft.

HR in Tata

Tata's HR practices play important roles in its success. Some of the impact of HR has been directly through HR professionals and departments; some has been through the partnership of HR with senior executives who help set the tone and direction of the companies' HR policies.

From the beginning, Tata's founders, Jameset Tata and his son Dorab, recognized that the company's ability to achieve its potential depended heavily on its ability to recruit the best talent. In the company's early years, they established the India Institute of Science. This early investment in human capability has been followed by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the JRD Tata Ecotechnology Centre, the Energy and Resources Institute, and many others.

From Tata's inception, balancing economic success with a nascent expression of corporate social responsibility became the company's norm. For example, in 1932 Dorab placed nearly all of his personal wealth in a trust that now accounts for 66 percent of the Tata Group's ownership. The Tata Trust was created to give back to the community with a mandate to be used "without any distinction of place, nationality or creed." As stated by Satish Pradhan, executive vice president of HR, "We have to be profitable but we go beyond. The purpose of our business is to give back to the community. This is a basic value."

This quality is reinforced by HR practices, including the recruitment of people who embrace this legacy and by implicitly evaluating people on both "talking the talk and walking the talk." In addition, Tata conducts Tata Administrative Service (TAS), a comprehensive developmental program for 25 to 30 of Tata's high-potential employees. Offered annually, it includes a three-month stint in rural areas where participants undertake community-improvement initiatives. They return with a greater appreciation of Tata's social values and the social relevance of economic success.

The various Tata companies share a dominant HR logic. Line managers and HR executives jointly identify key industry trends and t

Excerpted from Global HR Competencies by DAVE ULRICH, Wayne Brockbank, Jon Younger, Mike Ulrich. Copyright © 2013 by Dave Ulrich, Wayne Brockbank, Jon Younger, and Mike Ulrich. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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Meet the Author

DAVE ULRICH is a professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, a partner at The RBL Group, and executive director of The RBL Institute. He has published over 200 articles and book chapters and twenty-four books. Visit him online at

WAYNE BROCKBANK is a clinical professor of business at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and an emeritus partner in The RBL Group.

JON YOUNGER is a partner of The RBL Group, leads the firm's strategic HR practice, and is a director of The RBL Institute.

MIKE ULRICH is a PhD student at the Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, with a background in research methods and statistical analysis.

With major contributions from regional colleagues in:

  • Africa
  • Australia
  • China
  • Europe
  • India
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • North America
  • Turkey

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