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International HRM insights for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic: Implications for future research and practice

International HRM insights for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic: Implications for future research... Paula Caligiuri , We show the relevance of extant international business (IB) research, and more Helen De Cieri , specifically work on international human resources management (IHRM), to Dana Minbaeva , address COVID-19 pandemic challenges. Decision-makers in multinational 4,5,6 enterprises have undertaken various types of actions to alleviate the impacts of Alain Verbeke and the pandemic. In most cases these actions relate in some way to managing Angelika Zimmermann distance and to rethinking boundaries, whether at the macro- or firm-levels. Managing distance and rethinking boundaries have been the primary focus of D’Amore-McKim School of Business, much IB research since the IB field was established as a legitimate area of Northeastern University, 312C Hayden Hall, 360 academic inquiry. The pandemic has led to increased cross-border distance Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02124, USA; 2 problems (e.g., as the result of travel bans and reduced international mobility), Monash Business School, Monash University, and often also to new intra-firm distancing challenges imposed upon previously 900 Dandenong Road, Caulfield East, VIC 3145, Australia; Copenhagen Business School, Kilevej co-located employees. Prior IHRM research has highlighted the difficulties 14, Copenhagen 2000, Denmark; Haskayne presented by distance, in terms of employee selection, training, support, health School of Business, University of Calgary, 2500 and safety, as well as leadership and virtual collaboration. Much of this thinking University Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, is applicable to solve pandemic-related distance challenges. The present, Canada; Henley Business School, University of extreme cases of requisite physical distancing need not imply equivalent Reading, Reading, UK; Solvay Business School, increases in psychological distance, and also offer firms some insight into the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium; unanticipated benefits of a virtual workforce – a type of workforce that, quite School of Business and Economics, possibly, will influence the ‘new normal’ of the post-COVID world. Extant IHRM Loughborough University, Ashby Road, research does offer actionable insight for today, but outstanding knowledge Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK gaps remain. Looking ahead, we offer three domains for future IHRM research: Correspondence: managing under uncertainty, facilitating international and even global work, D Minbaeva, Copenhagen Business School, and redefining organizational performance. Kilevej 14, Copenhagen 2000, Denmark Journal of International Business Studies (2020) 51, 697–713. e-mail: dm.si@cbs.dk https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-020-00335-9 INTRODUCTION COVID-19 altered every person’s reality overnight. Individuals, cities, economies, countries, and continents have experienced the shock of lockdown and the fear of unknowing. Managers have had to make many decisions in a very short period of time – decisions about who should stay at work and who should go home; how and where people could be moved into digital space; and what the priorities are and how those priorities can best be communicated to employees. In 2019, Ernst & Young surveyed 500 board members and chief executive officers (CEOs) globally and found that only Online publication date: 2 June 2020 International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. 20% of the executives surveyed believed their The field of IB has long accounted for the companies were prepared to respond to a large challenges associated with significant global threats adverse risk (EY, 2020). A few short months later, and issues concerning geographical distance. From the COVID-19 pandemic crisis arrived and proved the lens of IB generally, and international human that their concerns were well founded. Concerns resource management (IHRM) specifically, we can related to global supply chain vulnerabilities and recast the issues emerging from the current COVID- financial resilience have come to the fore during 19 pandemic in terms of the existing academic the COVID-19 pandemic, along with significant knowledge base. By holding up this theoretical strategic human talent concerns. BCG has called mirror, we can more clearly see the issues and offer the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic a ‘‘people-based insights to MNE managers facing challenges in crisis.’’ We agree. leading their people through this crisis. In this The Economist noted that just as the financial Editorial, we will distil the knowledge and experi- crisis in 2007–2009 highlighted the role of talented ence IB scholars, and more specifically IHRM, have Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), the COVID-19 accumulated over recent decades to offer some key pandemic is highlighting the role of Chief Human learnings on managing people from a distance. Our Resource Officers (CHROs). They wrote: accumulated body of knowledge in IHRM has helped us understand the challenges people face ‘‘When the financial crisis rocked the business world in when placed in a wide range of MNE work 2007–2009, boardrooms turned to corporate finance chiefs. A good CFO could save a company; a bad one might bury it. arrangements, such as expatriate assignments, vir- The COVID-19 pandemic presents a different challenge – tual international work, global project teams, and and highlights the role of another corporate function, often frequent international travel (Shaffer, Kraimer, unfairly dismissed as soft. Never before have more firms Chen & Bolino, 2012). This academic knowledge needed a hard-headed HR boss. is particularly useful for human resource managers The duties of chief people officers, as human-resources heads are sometimes called, look critical right now. They must today, as they face new challenges and difficult keep employees healthy; maintain their morale; oversee a decisions during this pandemic. vast remote-working experiment; and, as firms retrench, The purpose of this Editorial is not to conduct a consider whether, when and how to lay workers off. Their comprehensive review of the literature; rather, the in-trays are bulging.’’ (The Economist, March 24th, 2020). goal is to select a few key themes and opportunities for ‘quick wins’ that could be immediately applied The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed a massive in MNE managerial practice. At the end of this number of employees, who were already facing Editorial, we go back to the academic literature and stress from the health risk itself, to working from offer suggestions for future research in IHRM. These home. Compounding this stressor, many managers suggestions represent the topics where practice are now leading remote teams for the first time. would be better served from a deeper knowledge This sudden change has exacerbated the challenges base. Thus, our suggestions for future research in of collaborating and leading from a distance, IHRM relate to the broader gaps in the IB literature challenges we in the field of international business that, if filled, could help answering the next ‘big (IB) understand well, but that have remained questions’ in IB (Buckley, Doh, & Benischke, 2017). largely unaddressed in management practice. In 2018, RW3 surveyed 1620 employees from 90 countries regarding their experiences working on HANDLING THE COVID-19 CRISIS ‘global virtual teams’ in multinational enterprises (MNEs). While most of the respondents identified Insights from IHRM’s Selection, Training, and Employee Support Literature their work on global virtual teams as important for The field of IHRM has long understood that when job success, only 22% received training on how best employees are in novel or uncertain contexts, they to work in their geographically distributed teams, experience stress (Anderze ´ n & Arnetz, 1997; 90% of which had two or more cultures repre- Richards, 1996; Stahl & Caligiuri, 2005). To respond sented. The picture is not much better at the to such stress, employees leverage their disposi- leadership level. Among the virtual team leaders, tional traits and coping responses (Shaffer, Har- only 15% described themselves as ‘‘very effective’’ rison, Gregersen, Black, & Ferzandi, 2006; Stahl & with less than 20% receiving training on how to Caligiuri, 2005). Stress affects employees’ ability to lead from a distance (RW3, 2018). empathize with others, consider plausible Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. alternatives, remain open-minded, engage in cog- Employees working, even virtually, with clients, nitively challenging tasks, and expand one’s expe- vendors, or colleagues from different cultures will riences to learn and grow. As the literature suggests, now, more than ever, need these competencies to when individuals encounter periods of stress and be effective. Selection is key. Companies can also anxiety, they have a tendency to seek out and find use this time to better assess their bench strength comfort in the familiar, the people, places, and for culturally agile talent in order to understand even food that are the most predictable; this is the who will be most effective in situations of growing reason there are expatriate communities, demo- novelty and uncertainty. graphic faultlines, and comfort food in every Training culture around the world. Research suggests that a state of anxiety fosters a The COVID-19 pandemic has produced tremen- natural desire for affiliation (Sarnoff & Zimbardo, dous novelty and uncertainty which is affecting the 1961; Schachter, 1959), especially amongst those mental health of many people around the world who are living the same anxiety-inducing experi- (World Health Organization, 2020). Even as the ence (Gump & Kulik, 1997; Schachter, 1959). For health risks of the pandemic begin to wane in some global teams in MNEs that have existing familiarity, countries and the probability of a vaccine appears the COVID-19 pandemic offers an ideal time to high, the novel ways of working remotely and the foster cross-cultural team cohesion and to validate fears around the global recession will continue to expectations of reliability since the health-related produce a state of uncertainty. In their stress- stress is present everywhere in the world. Training induced, cognitively reduced state, employees will to support relationship formation would be well- have a particularly difficult time working effectively received at this time when every team member, in different countries and with people from differ- irrespective of country, is experiencing a similar ent cultures, especially in instances of high unfa- stressor. The shared stress, anxiety, and frustrations miliarity. There is not enough bandwidth, so to can create ties that further bind already collegial speak, for even greater novelty and more uncer- global teams. This shared experience has the tainty. Based on knowledge from the IHRM litera- potential to enhance cohesion going forward. ture, a number of selection, training, and support For the many team members who have not yet practices can positively mitigate the concerns at received cross-cultural training on relationship hand. formation across borders, any lessons learned Selection through training, (if offered today) would land on IHRM has taught us that some people are naturally fertile soil, because team members already have a better than others at managing stress and uncer- shared ‘‘enemy’’ in COVID-19. This cross-cultural tainty, enabling them to make better decisions and training in MNEs would help reduce ambiguity for work more effectively across countries and cultures cross-cultural differences by offering skill-building (Shaffer et al., 2006). Employees with a higher on how to collaborate across cultures; how to tolerance of ambiguity are less likely to experience actively seek similarities with colleagues from dif- the negative effects of stress caused by working in a ferent cultures; how to use technology inclusively; context with greater uncertainty (Frone, 1990). how to set team-level ground rules for communi- Employees with resilience not only bounce back cation and work-flow, and the like. This training after stressful situations but also find positive could also help colleagues from different cultures meaning from them (Tugade & Fredrickson, become mindful of situations where they might be 2004). Likewise, employees with natural curiosity rushing to judgement because of their ‘‘reduced can adapt better to novel situations, thrive in situ- bandwidth’’ state. It could also teach them how to ations of anxiety and uncertainty, and be more add respectful questioning into cross-cultural work creative and open-minded (Hagtvedt, Dossinger, groups to thwart the negative aspects of Harrison, & Huang, 2019; Kashdan, Sherman, Yar- stereotypes. bro, & Funder, 2013). Just as the shared stressful experience among During this period of global stress and uncer- colleagues can facilitate their emotional bonding, tainty, organizations (and especially MNEs) should there are other HRM practices that would land well select for these three critical, cultural agility com- if offered in this current COVID-19 climate. For petencies: tolerance for ambiguity, resilience, and example, employees’ need for professional growth curiosity for all employees working multiculturally. is likely to strengthen many employees’ desire to Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. receive additional training. The psychology litera- MNEs need to foster cohesion during this time of ture offers substantial evidence that one of our uncertainty by using the above selection, training, fundamental human motivators is the need for and support practices. competence (Deci, Olafsen, & Ryan, 2017). During Insights from IHRM’s Management of Health the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of professional and Safety stimulation while working from home is fostering The COVID-19 pandemic has brought health and more self-directed knowledge-seeking to satisfy the safety issues to center stage and has placed a need to learn, grow, and demonstrate competence. spotlight on the role of the HRM function in For example, LinkedIn Learning courses have seen a managing the health and safety of the interna- threefold increase in usage since the start of stay-at- tional workforce. While management researchers home orders (Forbes, 2020). With a growing inter- already know well that employees’ health and est in self-directed learning, companies should safety are linked to the demands (such as a heavy actively harness this time to invest in the skill workload) and resources (such as a supportive development of employees. At a time when manager) at work, the international HRM field employees’ desire to learn, grow, and demonstrate offers specific learnings about managing health and competence is heightened, companies that offer safety for a spatially dispersed and mobile work- access to, or reimburse, employees’ online training force. In IHRM, we understand the challenges of achieve a clear win–win; they increase talent capa- protecting employees, and their families, from bility and, concurrently, foster employee injury and illness across national boundaries and motivation. in different work arrangements (Gannon & Para- Support skevas, 2019; Shaffer et al., 2012). Research in In IHRM, we understand how an individual’s IHRM, alongside scholarship in fields such as comfort or fit within a given environment can health and psychology, has shown that globally mobile employees face specific job demands that affect their success, and also that organizational support can positively affect adjustment in a novel can affect their health and safety (Anderzen& environment (Takeuchi, Wang, Marinova, & Yao, Arnetz, 1997; Druckman, Harber, Liu, & Quigley, 2009). Those who work on global cross-national 2014). Frequent travel, high workloads, long work teams in MNEs face health risks due to require- hours, and job pressure lead to negative health consequences (Bader, 2015) and also negatively ments to operate across time zones, with flexible schedules, and expectations of availability around affect psychological well-being and family relation- the clock (Lirio, 2017). In the ambiguity of both ships (Jensen & Knudsen, 2017). We also know, global work and current COVID-19 pandemic, the however, that globally mobile work can be stimu- issues for which support is needed will vary lating and rewarding in many positive ways (Ren, Yunlu, Shaffer, & Fodchuck, 2015). depending on the person’s work-life issues, but organizational support remains critical (Kraimer, During the pandemic, life has changed a lot for Wayne, & Jaworski, 2001; Shaffer, Harrison, & many who were international business travelers Gilley, 1999). Companies should offer support and globally mobile employees in MNEs; their practices to help mitigate stress such as webinars current ‘‘grounding’’ may mean they are experienc- ing a sense of loss. Their frequent travel, hotel on resilience, tutorials on mindfulness (De Cieri, Shea, Cooper, and Oldenburg, 2019), employee accommodation, and business dinners have been assistance programs, and virtual counseling ser- replaced by stay-at-home restrictions and virtual vices. These stress-mitigating offerings would be meetings. The stress caused by the demands of particularly helpful for employees who engage in virtual global work is real; many employees are experiencing long work hours to accommodate virtual work at the international level, as they face additional stress. time zones and performance challenges in less than The world is experiencing a collective state of ideal remote working conditions. These tangible stress, but the global economy will not pause for work challenges all occur with the backdrop of job insecurity and future economic uncertainty. The employees requiring time to be ready to come out changed work conditions during the pandemic of their comfort zone to work again in different countries and with people from different cultures. present new challenges for employees’ health and More than ever, human resources managers in safety. Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. Communication and support for health and safety employees to work from home during the COVID- IHRM activities such as international family relo- 19 crisis (Gartner, 2020). Because this shift has been cations provide a knowledge base that is of partic- involuntary, continues over a lengthy period, and ular value in the pandemic because IHRM is more requires entire households to be house-bound, likely than other functional areas in the MNE or there is more potential for employees to experience domestic HRM to deal with the interface between increased work hours, as well as increased work-life employees’ professional and private lives (Mayer- conflict. For employees who were globally mobile, hofer, Mu ¨ ller, & Schmidt, 2010). We know that and now find themselves working from home understanding work-related demands and resources during the pandemic, the shift is particularly is important for all managers, and particularly for significant and borders between work and family HR professionals, to support and maintain employ- may require re-negotiation and re-organization. ees’ health and safety. Clear and consistent com- There are several specific ways by which man- munication from managers and HR about health agers and HR can help their employees to work risks and available health resources is important. from home in a safe and healthy manner. There are Research on managing expatriate assignments in many simple and cost-effective ways to encourage MNEs shows that communication and support healthy lifestyle habits. For example, encouraging from managers is an important buffer against job healthy work practices such as working within stress experienced by employees (Kraimer, Bolino, regular hours and taking regular work-breaks will & Mead, 2016; Stroppa & Spiess, 2011). This help employees to switch off from work (Adamovic, knowledge can be applied to the pandemic situa- 2018; Chen & Fulmer, 2018). Communicating tion of working from home. For some people, social clearly and managing work expectations will help isolation as well as uncertainty about their health, employees to maintain their family responsibilities. job, and future will have a negative impact on their The pandemic offers an opportunity for managers mental health. Any stigma linked to mental health to explore how to implement flexible work arrange- might prevent some employees from seeking help, ments that can enhance the health and safety of and MNE senior managers should therefore com- employees well into the future, particularly that of municate with empathy, encourage wellness globally mobile employees. resources, and offer practical support for employ- Over a decade ago, Collings, Scullion and Morley ees’ health and safety. (2007) identified health and safety as an important area of IHRM practice and pointed out the impli- Flexible work arrangements cations of employee ill-health for organizational Many managers will be familiar with flexible work performance as well as for the employee and their arrangements (FWAs) that formalize where, when, family. Applying the insights from IHRM to the and how employees do their work (Chen & Fulmer, pandemic situation, managers should give priority 2018). FWAs, such as flexible scheduling of work to protecting and managing employee health and and working from home, have been shown to safety now and in the future. Overall, our goal for deliver positive benefits for employees’ health (e.g., employees is not only to protect and manage their Anderson, Kaplan & Vega, 2015). IHRM has unique health and safety but to enhance positive outcomes insights into FWAs; for example, people working in such as thriving and engagement with their work. global teams are accustomed to working from home and outside standard business hours. IHRM Insights from International Leadership in MNEs research has highlighted the importance of prac- During this pandemic, leaders in MNEs have tices such as FWAs that help MNE employees to needed to make swift decisions with far-reaching maintain their health and wellbeing to cope with consequences, communicate effectively to diverse the demands of working across geographical and stakeholders, manage resources judiciously, inte- temporal boundaries (Adamovic, 2018). grate organizational and local demands, and inspire In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many expectations of reliability via authenticity. The MNEs have been forced to rely on one type of FWA: competencies needed for leadership during the employees working from home. This is a new COVID-19 pandemic in general are mirroring the challenge for many, including IHRM scholars and competencies of effective leaders in MNEs because practitioners. A survey conducted with 800 global the uncertainty, ambiguity, and importance of HR executives in March 2020 found that 88% of context are present in both leadership situations. organizations had either encouraged or required Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. Those MNE leaders who succeed in situations of in decisions involving safety standards, codes of novelty typically command three cultural-agility conduct, quality standards, fiscal controls, corpo- related responses that they can leverage like tools in rate values, and codes of ethics. a toolbox (Caligiuri, 2012; Caligiuri & Tarique, During this COVID-19 crisis, we can observe a 2016). First, they have the skills to adapt to the number of highly effective leaders, setting clear demands of the context when needed, relying on direction, and using their transparency and authen- those familiar with the local context to influence ticity to effectively communicate the chosen course key decisions. Second, they know how to integrate of action. These leaders are also acknowledging and diverse perspectives and demands; even when the communicating the trade-offs necessary to create demands are conflicting, they can work to find an plans that are responsive to public health concerns integrated solution. Third, they know when to and economic imperatives. The ability to use provide direction, even if it is not welcome or effectively each of the three above responses is a popular. A leader’s ability to read the demands of hallmark of good leadership in complex MNEs. The the situation and respond, as needed, using the leaders able to navigate the tensions among these appropriate response out of the three alternatives three possible responses during the pandemic will above, are proving to be especially relevant during likely also be the best MNE leaders going forward. the pandemic. Insights from the Literature on Virtual Adaptation International Collaboration More suddenly and widely than ever experienced Whether leaders in MNEs adapt to the demands of a situation by wearing a face mask in public during before, the COVID-19 crisis has moved collabora- the COVID-19 pandemic, or follow to the tee other tive work into the virtual sphere. Large sections of local public health recommendations affecting society now find themselves relying exclusively on organizational functioning, they are acknowledg- virtual communication media to complete collab- orative tasks. IHRM research teaches us a lot on ing that they understand, appreciate, and are willing to abide by the norms of the situation. In how managers should support virtual collabora- some situations (but not all) adapting to the norms tions to facilitate success during the current crisis of the context will enable leaders to persuade, and beyond. We do not know how long this virtual instill confidence, and influence those whose value set-up, spanning the entire world will need to last, but now is a good time for managers to learn from system fosters certain behavioral expectations. mistakes or at least imperfections in this realm, and Integration to strengthen the quality of virtual work for the In some circumstances, adaptation is the wrong future. approach and MNE leaders need to integrate mul- The current crisis sheds light on challenges of tiple, sometimes conflicting, perspectives to create virtual collaboration that confirm long-standing a course of action. Leaders in MNEs do this when research insights. For those who had not built they integrate the cultures represented on their strong working relationships before the crisis, geographically distributed teams. During the working and managing at a distance and through COVID-19 crisis we are observing highly effective virtual communication media has made it hard to leaders use the same approach, balancing health maintain (and even more so to build) strong social demands to protect employees with urgent, firm- ties and networks (Hansen & Lovas, 2004), realistic level requirements for economic performance. expectations of reliability (Gibson & Gibbs, 2006) and a team identity (Maznevski, Davison, & Jonsen, Direction 2006), thus impeding a common understanding of In other situations, neither adaptation nor integra- norms, goals and tasks as well as effective commu- tion is the correct approach. In some cases, a leader nication and knowledge sharing (Cramton, 2001; will need to decide and ‘‘stick by it’’ – even when Fulk, Monge, & Hollingshead, 2005). Research on the decision is unwelcome or unpopular. During global teams tells us that these challenges are the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw this when busi- amplified when working internationally in MNEs, ness leaders quickly shifted operations, and made where boundaries must be crossed between coun- difficult decisions to close facilities, lay-off workers, tries, regions, cultures, institutional contexts, firms, or alter supply chains. In the international leader- and firm units (see Zimmermann, 2011). ship context, we see this response used frequently Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. As we know from research in IHRM and other contexts that may cause misunderstandings in the disciplines, virtual work also has potential benefits. virtual collaboration. Rotational assignments and It can, for example, attenuate the effects of obvious short-term projects abroad serve to enhance the cultural differences in demeanors, reduce misun- collaboration in global virtual teams by allowing derstandings due to verbal language struggles and members to develop a better shared understanding accents, create electronic trails that document of their tasks, goals, and social norms, and to build decision making processes, and save on meeting stronger social ties and a shared team identity time. Moreover, geographic distance is not always a (Zimmermann, 2018). For this purpose, the orga- measure of psychological distance, as virtual team nizational design must allow for the movement of members who communicate frequently and share a staff in all geographic directions. professional or personal identity can even feel Research on virtual collaboration also suggests closer to each other than people collaborating what measures managers can take to alleviate face-to-face (O’Leary, Wilson, & Metiu, 2014). obstacles to virtual work; to create a more positive In the current crisis, managers have an excep- work experience for employees; and to increase tional opportunity to learn, or refine means of employees’ motivation to make good on their mitigating the challenges and realizing the poten- commitments in the team and the firm. First, tial of virtual working, which may not have been managers can facilitate perceived proximity, by obvious before, in spite of much past work advo- allowing employees to communicate frequently cating the benefits of the virtual workplace (Il- and share personal information with remote col- legems & Verbeke, 2003; Verbeke, Schulz, leagues, including social media, to help identify Greidanus, & Hambley, 2008). One prerequisite is personal similarities and to develop stronger rela- to match the type of information and communica- tionships (O’Leary et al., 2014). Shared understand- tions technology (ICT) with the focal task (Malho- ing, in turn, must be supported by defining strong tra & Majchrzak, 2014). For example, asynchronous shared goals, a clear communication structure, virtual communication can be most efficient for interaction rules, and team member roles (e.g. information gathering whilst regular face-to-face Earley & Peterson, 2004). To give virtual working meetings (or in the current situation videoconfer- skills the attention they deserve, managers should ences) should be reserved for tasks such as problem also include employees’ effort in virtual communi- solving and comprehensive decision-making that cation and teamwork as criteria for employee requires synchronous interactions (Maznevski & performance appraisals. The process of virtual Chudoba, 2000). working, not just its outcomes, should thus become Managers can further support effective virtual relevant for rewards and promotion. working through each stage of the human resource Research on MNE headquarters-subsidiary set- management process (Zimmermann, 2018). The tings alerts us to additional challenges in managing requirement of working over distances should be virtual collaborations. In MNEs, employees at included in job advertisement and assessment headquarters and subsidiaries often compete for centers, not just for managers but also for technical interesting tasks and career prospects. Rather than staff, to attract and select employees who regard prioritizing headquarters’ employees, senior MNE this as part of their professional identity (Zimmer- managers need to create a ‘combined career pyra- mann & Ravishankar, 2011). After recruitment, mid’ which balances the career aspirations of skills of virtual collaboration can be developed headquarters and subsidiary employees. This will through formal training that covers ICT as well as help not only to motivate and commit employees intercultural knowledge and experiential exercises at different locations, but also to break down (Li, Mobley, & Kelly, 2013; Sit, Mak, & Heill, 2017). collaboration barriers. For example, in offshoring As mentioned, cross-cultural training is important settings, distributing widely the more attractive for those who work virtually across countries, tasks and career paths across sites may help allevi- supporting cross-cultural relationship formation ate headquarters employees’ fears of contributing and teamworking skills. On the job, new recruits to the ‘offshoring’ of their own jobs. The wide can early on be given the opportunity to work on distribution of attractive tasks and career paths will virtual teams and visit remote offices to develop an make them more willing to provide support to awareness of different cultural and organizational offshore colleagues, which can in turn reinforce Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. offshore employees’ work motivation and affective Strategic positions and continuance commitment (Zimmermann & The key point of departure is the focus on strategic positions (Becker & Huselid, 2006), especially those Ravishankar, 2016). Importantly, HR and general managers in the different MNE sites need to work organizational roles that can have an above-average together rather than in silos, so to co-design career impact (Boudreau & Ramstad, 2007). As Minbaeva paths and achieve better virtual collaboration. and Collings (2013) explain, such positions: (1) In sum, research on virtual collaborations can relate to company strategy and have a direct impact on the effectiveness of strategy implementation; (2) teach managers much on how to handle the challenges and reap the benefits of collaborating exhibit high variability in the quality of the work at a distance, which the COVID-19 crisis has completed by the various people occupying these brought to the fore. To cope with virtual collabo- positions; and (3) require unique, firm-specific ration on a large-scale during this crisis, managers know-how, tacit knowledge and industry experi- ence that cannot be easily found in the external must develop and reward employees’ virtual col- laboration skills, foster perceived proximity, and labor market (see also Evans, Pucik, & Bjorkman, design ICT, work goals, and the communication 2011). structure in a way to foster collaboration. If man- Becker et al. (2009: 51) further explain that the agers now use the opportunity to take on these process of identifying strategic positions begins with ‘‘the development of a clear statement of the insights, they can build their firm’s capability of virtual working for the future. In the long run, firm’s strategic choice (how will we compete?) as virtual collaboration skills will become a more well as the firm’s strategic capabilities (what must important part of employees’ professional identity. we do exceptionally well to win?).’’ The answers to In an international setting, this also implies that these questions will be different after the crisis for managers in different MNE subsidiaries will need to each MNE. Hence, what are considered strategic collaborate to design career paths that balance the positions must be re-evaluated. In doing so, man- aspirations of employees at different sites and foster agers may still be guided by the second and third their motivation to work with each other. elements listed above (high variability in perfor- mance and unique, firm-specific know how), but Insights from Global Talent Management the first element may need to be reconsidered. In The COVID-19 crisis has stretched organizational defining strategic positions, now and in the post- resources and has accentuated key organizational Corona crisis, the emphasis needs to shift from a capabilities. The crisis has exposed ‘holes’ in sup- static and reactive strategy implementation role posed core competencies, both at the individual towards a more agile understanding of positions and collective levels, but it has also revealed new that have a direct impact on how fast the company talents. In our conversations with managers we can change its direction and adapt to new consistently heard the message of some surprising situations. performances, emerging stars, or someone who Notably, the strategic positions will seldom be at really showed their new side. These stars are not the top of the MNE hierarchy. According to Mark the usual, more gregarious, employees, but those Huselid: ‘‘the sorting and selection process used to who tend to be more reserved. This, more intro- choose senior executives is very extensive. Each verted group of employees now feels comfort- step of this process is based on a variance-reduction able suggesting new ideas and proposals in the system in which poor performers are sorted out or format of virtual meetings (see the benefits of developed into good performers. However, at the virtual collaboration described in the previous bottom and middle of the organization, such section). The crisis had pushed MNEs to reconsider variability can still exist.’’ Again, the COVID-19 the key question as to whether they have the right crisis revealed some unexpected and surprisingly people in the right places. Extant research on key, pivotal positions. Global Talent Management (GTM) has become particularly salient in answering this question. In Talent pool In GTM, the next step entails the creation of a pool GTM we have long been arguing the necessity of establishing a differentiated HR architecture for of high-potential talents who can occupy the managing talent globally (Minbaeva & Collings, strategically important positions (see for example 2013), starting with two key decisions around Bjo ¨ rkman, Ehrnrooth, Ma ¨kela ¨, Smale, & Sumelius, strategic positions and talent pool. 2013; Collings, Mellahi, & Cascio, 2019). Usually, Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. nomination decisions are made by representatives of MNE subsidiaries or sub-units, and based on a IMPLICATIONS FOR IHRM RESEARCH: combination of data on individuals’ competencies, LOOKING BEYOND THE PANDEMIC past performance, and development potential (Fer- In the first part of this Editorial, we have drawn nandez-Araoz, Roscoe & Aramaki, 2017). In the attention to several key insights from IHRM schol- future, the evaluation of potential should also arship that provide the foundation for understand- include cultural agility competences as highlighted ing, interpreting, and addressing COVID-19 related above: tolerance for ambiguity, resilience, and workplace challenges. The insights we have out- curiosity. lined could serve to guide senior MNE managers in In the context of the current crisis, the talent HRM and beyond as they address novel, people- pool is changing, expanding and being reconfig- related challenges in their organizations. However, ured. Handling the crisis has become an overnight the pandemic has also highlighted some gaps in stretch assignment and employees’ response to this our research: answers to questions we wish we had stretch assignment has changed many MNEs’ per- in the academic literature but, to date, do not. ceptions of their talent pool. With the additional This section of our Editorial turns to recommen- information on how well employees handled the dations for future IHRM scholarship in the post- crisis, variance across strategic positions has pandemic reality. We think that novel and multi- increased. The current situation will test all previ- disciplinary research will be needed to address the ous decisions regarding the leadership pipeline and context, processes, and outcomes of work post- talent management such that, on the other side of pandemic. Below we focus especially on sugges- the crisis, the high-potential pool may well consist tions for research on: (1) how to manage with of a different group of employees. global uncertainty; (2) how to facilitate global Prior research has shown the potential correla- work; and (3) how to redefine organizational tion between personalities and nominations to the performance. talent pool. For example, Caligiuri (2006) has Managing with Global Uncertainty explained how different personality traits (e.g., The concept of volatile, uncertain, complex, and extroversion) may be favored in global settings. ambiguous (VUCA) environments has been recog- Mellahi and Collings (2010) have argued that social nized for some time (Schoemaker, Heaton, & Teece, and geographical distances may lead talented 2018; Van Tulder, Verbeke, & Jankowska, 2019), yet employees in foreign MNE subsidiaries to be in the health and economic crises resulting from ‘‘blind spots’’ because they are less visible. In COVID-19 have given the concept further signifi- contrast, talent located at the headquarters may cance. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed be more visible to – and more valued by – key extraordinary vulnerabilities arising from wide- decision makers in the MNE. The virtual reality spread global uncertainty. Uncertainty is no longer imposed by COVID-19 has had a levelling effect. the context experienced by just senior MNE leaders Introverts have been given an equal chance to involved in managing complex global supply participate in the virtual interactions and discus- chains, volatile financial markets, and unpre- sions. Everyone, regardless of location, has had dictable geopolitical relationships. Rather, uncer- equal access to decision-makers in virtual meetings, tainty has become the context for numerous MNE and has had an equal opportunity to contribute. employees who are working from home for the first The work reality fostered by the COVID-19 pan- time, experiencing job instability and financial demic has helped to supersede structural, geo- insecurity, and worrying about their and their graphic, and social barriers that previously limited loved ones’ health and safety. talent management decisions. The context, as we know in IHRM, sets an In sum, the insights from GTM are especially important boundary condition in understanding relevant for companies during the crisis period, and the efficacy of our theories (e.g., Brewster, Mayrho- they will be even more relevant in the next stage – fer & Smale, 2016; Cooke, 2018; Cooke, Wood, the Restart. The crisis has redefined not just where Wang, & Veen, 2020) and this context of uncer- we work but has altered the work we do and how tainty, which has been exacerbated by the COVID- we do it. To succeed in the next ‘new normal’, 19 pandemic, cannot be ignored. Our view is that MNE senior managers will need to revisit the IHRM should explore new avenues of managing prevailing definition of talent and their under- global uncertainty and that it can thereby standing how economic value is created. Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. contribute to answering some of the ‘big questions’ performance criteria for an MNE’s talent pool. in IB (Buckley et al., 2017). While the context of Despite recent advances in recognizing the impor- uncertainty has created opportunities for many tance of context (Vaiman, Sparrow, Schuler & streams of IB research, we would like to focus on Collings, 2018), the GTM research assumes that three key ones: leadership and talent management, what makes talent a talent is universal across collaborating under stress, and managing health and cultures and homogeneous for all MNE units. safety. Contrary to this, Morris, Snell, & Bjo ¨ rkman (2016) identified four types of human capital underlying Leadership and talent management the talent portfolio of MNEs and explained that The United States War College was the first insti- different configurations of the talent portfolio tend tution to coin the term VUCA. For decades, military to be emphasized in different contexts. Future institutions globally have been developing leaders research should examine whether different config- who could lead through a VUCA reality. Partnering urations of the talent portfolio should be empha- with scholars from the military, future research in sized in the context of global uncertainty, and IB could advance how leadership styles and behav- whether different types of human capital could iors might need to vary during situations of high contribute differently to organizational resilience uncertainty, and how specific interventions might (see next section). In addition, as Minbaeva (2016) lead to vastly improved outcomes (Adler, Bliese, points out, what constitutes ‘talent’ in the fluid McGurk, Hoge, & Castro, 2009). This could be context of emerging economies and developing especially important when the high uncertainty countries differs significantly from the definition of context creates an emotional fear response, as we ‘talent’ in the (comparatively) stable environment saw with some employees who were forced to work of developed economies. Following the traditions without adequate protective equipment during the of extreme context research (Hallgren, Rouleau & COVID-19 pandemic. If employees are sensing true de Rond, 2018), GTM research needs to revisit its fear, a leader’s role would be to help employees assumption that internal MNE talent systems func- process the context, allowing the rational response tion in a globally uniform way, using a single, to supplant the emotional response. Universally standardized understanding of what good perfor- effective leadership skills might be in play during mance and high potential entail. fear-inducing situations. However, given that both Geert Hofstede and the GLOBE study identified Collaborating under stress ‘‘uncertainty avoidance’’ as a primary cultural dif- The COVID-19 pandemic is a globally shared stress- ference, culturally bound leadership styles might be producing experience which can, according to warranted for situations of high uncertainty and social psychology, foster a natural desire to connect fear. Future research should examine this further. with others (Gump & Kulik, 1997; Sarnoff & In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, members Zimbardo, 1961; Schachter, 1959). Future research on a global team might be experiencing the same should examine whether collaborating through the tangible level of uncertainty but might have vastly COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened relation- different reactions. Just as uncertainty might be ships among colleagues from different cultures or, experienced differently across cultures, so might had the opposite effect, by creating a greater the responses to fear, stress, and anxiety. Thus, emotional distance because the ability to support future research should examine whether global one another was limited to virtual interactions leaders are able to identify (and respond effectively) filtered through diverse cultural lenses. Delineating across cultures. For example, the same leadership the circumstances under which fear facilitates communication to address employees’ uncertainty cohesion (or division) among culturally diverse might have differentially effective responses, colleagues would be important for generating depending on their cross-cultural context. IB schol- interventions. ars could partner with scholars in neuroscience to IHRM has long understood that certain compe- understand differences in cross-cultural emotional tencies affect success when working under stress in responses and how to recognize and address these different countries and with people from different in an international business context. cultures (Shaffer et al., 2006). Future research The ever-growing global uncertainty shapes should examine the extent to which this new way assumptions beyond talent management, especially of collaborating under stress in a context of uncer- with respect to the choice of selection and tainty will require additional competencies. In Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. addition to competencies, future research should Global teams and virtual collaboration examine whether employees’ experiences have For IHRM, the COVID-19 pandemic has high- lighted the importance of how employees can work better prepared them to succeed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It might be the case that effectively across borders while remaining at home. employees who have lived and worked abroad The focus on global teams has become particularly would be better able to collaborate effectively in a salient. With employees sharing the same global high-uncertainty environment. stressor, future studies should examine whether their experience of getting through it together has Health and safety fostered greater cohesion and, if so, whether those The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that manag- MNEs that have spent time to train their employees ing employees’ health and safety is a key challenge on cross-cultural virtual collaboration now have for IHRM, and this is an important component of global teams with greater expectations of reliability the grand challenge faced by MNEs in understand- among the members. Working from home has ing how to deal with social responsibility (Buckley exposed employees’ full selves as conference calls et al., 2017). However, IHRM scholars (and practi- are bringing colleagues into each other’s homes, tioners) are unlikely to command the entire reser- possibly seeing each other’s pets, children, and voir of requisite knowledge to investigate all the home de ´ cor. Future studies should examine mental, physiological, and even physical problems whether the COVID-19 pandemic has fostered that employees may experience during and after greater global virtual team cohesion by providing the pandemic. As for other complex challenges, our visible evidence of each other’s true selves. understanding of health and safety issues would The crisis also offers a new opportunity to look at benefit greatly from multidisciplinary collabora- the fundamentals of virtual collaboration. IHRM tion, particularly with scholars in fields such as researchers could use the current situation of large- health. For example, we could apply health-based scale virtual working as an ‘extreme case scenario’ knowledge about the long-term health conse- to examine the extent to which virtual collabora- quences of risk exposure, to investigate the long- tion can be effective. They could ask whether the term consequences of travel bans and stay at home methods that we have derived from virtual collab- orders on employees’ mental health. IHRM scholars orations amongst managers or technical experts must also broaden their scope of attention. To date, (e.g., information systems engineers) suffice for IHRM scholars have largely focused on a narrow achieving effective work in the types of collabora- range of sub-clinical aspects of psychological well- tions that were previously not virtual, for example being and adjustment. Yet, the extreme situation of among administration staff inside the MNE. the pandemic challenges us to support managers Future research should thus use the current who are dealing with health matters that include context of the COVID-19 pandemic to study those serious outcomes among employees, including who are working from home for the first time. This depression, substance abuse, or suicidal ideation, group would uniquely enable us to examine the which are already well understood by health cross-national, generational, functional, etc. differ- scholars. Future research should also give more ences in predicting employees’ preferences for attention to the positive aspects of global work. working from home in the future, post-pandemic. While most IHRM research has focused on global For example, are relationship-oriented or collec- work as a context with negative consequences for tivist cultures more likely to want to return to the health and safety, future research could investigate workplace? IHRM researchers can also use the antecedents in global work that lead to positive extreme case scenario to study the pitfalls and outcomes such as thriving and resilience (Ren et al., levers of large-scale virtual conferences that have 2015). now been held for the first time. Whilst this type of research may bring to the surface new psycholog- Facilitating Global Work ical and practical barriers to virtual collaboration, The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified new ways which set its boundaries, it also promises to show that global work can be accomplished, encouraging how virtual collaboration can be expanded both in us to rethink how MNEs use global teams and virtual scale and scope – to different types of work and collaboration and international assignments. forms of collaboration. Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. So far, insights into virtual collaboration have approach in the expatriate adjustment literature been gained in different academic disciplines that to determine who is best able to adjust to the have largely operated as silos. Besides IHRM and IB, various facets of this novel work environment and important findings on international or global vir- to what extent the support practices offered have tual collaboration stem from the areas of informa- fostered employee adjustment to various facets of tion systems (IS) – which has studied dispersed IS work-life during these uncertain times. For exam- collaborations for a long time – organizational ple, some employees might have adjusted well to studies, and strategic management. The last two working from home – even preferred it. Others areas have highlighted the role of the organiza- might adjust to working from home only after tional and strategic contexts respectively. IHRM employer support practices were implemented, researchers, therefore, need to draw on insights such as regular team meetings or training on how from these disciplines to achieve a better under- to work virtually. The experience of working from standing of virtual collaboration and practices in home during the pandemic could open new oppor- order to optimally support these. tunities for IHRM research to examine flexible work arrangements for expatriates. While the IHRM International assignments literature has begun to examine flexible work With countries’ borders closed for fear of the arrangements in the context of global teams COVID-19 virus spreading further, the idea of an (Adamovic, 2018), there has been little attention upward trajectory of international assignments to date to the FWAs used in other types of seems highly unlikely. Assuming that fewer international work. employees will be sent abroad to live and work in Rethinking how MNEs use global teams and virtual the context of international assignments, future collaboration and international assignments, could research will need to investigate alternative control constitute important elements in a reconfiguration MNE mechanisms for subsidiaries, alternatives for of the IHRM function. There is an opportunity for developing future global leaders, and alternatives IHRM research to collect relevant and useful evi- for addressing skill shortages in host countries. For dence to facilitate global work in the future, by example, could technology-driven control mecha- examining the role of the IHRM function during nisms successfully replace an expatriate leader sent and after the crisis. Even large organizations with from headquarters to oversee operations? Could sophisticated pre-pandemic IHRM policies are domestic-based experiences in culturally diverse likely to be re-writing the rules. For example, as settings also foster cultural agility competencies the travel restrictions ease, employers and individuals way a high-quality international assignment will make decisions about whether, when, and would? Could skills be taught to host country where they feel safe to travel. IHRM scholarship can nationals through virtually means, so as to prepare offer an evidence-base for global mobility policies them for anticipated skill shortages in host coun- that will help employees to adjust to new ways of tries? With fewer expatriates living abroad, those working in teams and the inevitable stress and who are sent abroad will need to achieve greater uncertainty of post-pandemic travel. success faster than previous generations of expatri- ates did because the stakes, so to speak, will be Redefining Performance higher. Speed of adjustment for those expatriates Minbaeva and De Cieri (2015) wrote about the need who are still going abroad will be of utmost for IHRM scholars to rethink their key dependent importance. variable – organizational performance. They The expatriate literature has evolved to under- referred to enterprise resilience – the ability of an stand cross-cultural adjustment as an idiosyncratic enterprise to respond or ‘‘bounce back’’ from shock person–environment relationship based on how events (e.g., Branzei & Abdelnour, 2010; De Cieri & people uniquely experience living abroad (Haslber- Dowling, 2012) – as an important outcome variable ger, Brewster, & Hippler, 2013; Hippler, Caligiuri & for IHRM in the context of large-scale disasters. The Johnson, 2014). Various facets of the host country COVID-19 crisis adds to the long list of shock environment – when compared to the home coun- events in the twenty-first century that have try – are individually determined for their influence included terrorism, corporate scandals, the global on an individual’s level of adjustment. For some, financial crisis that began in 2007, natural disasters the change might be better or worse – or having no (e.g., the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004; the real effect. Future research should mirror the Icelandic volcano eruption in 2010), and Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. environmental disasters (e.g., the BP/Deepwater In the above expose ´ , we have outlined how IHRM Horizon oil rig explosion off the US’s Gulf Coast) researchers should use the current extreme scenario (Minbaeva & De Cieri, 2015). The global pandemic of virtual working to scrutinize the boundaries of once again stresses the importance of understand- effective virtual collaboration and find means to ing the role of IHRM in building enterprise support it at a broader scale (without compromis- resilience. ing on organizational effectiveness or employees’ The crisis also brings home the point that mental health). During the ‘lockdown’, people sustainability, and more specifically organizations’ have experienced improvements in air quality, contributions to the United Nation’s sustainable noise levels and congestion, and have at the same development goals (SDGs), should become a depen- time tested and practiced their virtual collaboration dent variable in IHRM research. The UN’s 17 SDGs, skills. Through this, many of us may have become adopted as a non-binding agreement in 2015 by more open to the idea of reducing unnecessary 193 countries, are relevant not only to govern- travel, which at a larger scale contributes to reduc- ments but also to all stakeholders in employment ing the environmental destruction that has fed into relationships (Fowler & Biekart, 2017; Sachs, 2015; the crisis itself. Even if unexpected barriers to UN General Assembly, 2015). These goals are part virtual working surface, IHRM researchers may be of the ‘big picture’ of global development, with more inclined than before to search for new environmental, humanitarian and economic impli- avenues to capitalize on virtual working and to cations. HRM scholars have been criticized for foster sustainable management practices in this being slow to respond to these goals (Alzola, 2018). realm. As is the case with other environmental disasters Recognizing that much of the IHRM literature today, the COVID-19 crisis has been directly linked has focused on high-status professional employees, to the unsustainable ways in which humans treat future research should give attention to the MNE’s the world’s ecosystem (The Guardian, 2020; WWF, entire workforce and beyond in the context of its 2020). When seen through this (albeit debatable) CSR strategy, to address the needs of individuals for lens, the COVID-19 crisis should alert us to the whom the pandemic has exacerbated conditions of need to rethink our working practices to help insecurity, disempowerment and vulnerability. address environmental sustainability. Unintention- This is particularly important given that the SDGs ally, IHRM research may in the past have con- highlight the eradication of extreme poverty and tributed to environmentally unsustainable working hunger, and reduction of inequality, which are practices, e.g., by promoting frequent international issues that will be exacerbated as we enter a likely travel in instances where such travel could have post-pandemic global recession. IB needs to better been easily avoided and replaced by more environ- understand the role of globalization from the ment-friendly modes of professional interaction. perspective of job creation and job loss globally. The current crisis now provides an opportunity for Buckley et al. (2017) have identified the potential IHRM researchers to guide MNEs towards con- for IB scholars to collaborate with scholars in tributing to achieving the SDGs. They could do disciplines such as health economics and epidemi- this especially by examining how virtual working ology to address grand challenges such as the can be optimized to reduce the extent of commut- impact of ‘‘poverty and child mortality, on local ing and travel. In addition to examining the employees and subsidiaries’’ (p. 1055). We suggest sustainability of global HR policy and practice, that IHRM scholars have both a responsibility to future research could address the SDGs with respect join these conversations and an opportunity to to global health and safety, e.g., by examining how contribute their insights about people in the global global mobility practices integrate health and workforce. safety matters. Specific areas where the IHRM Table 1 presents a summary of our suggestions function could demonstrate its relevance might for future IHRM scholarship, informed by our include management of risk exposure in MNE extant knowledge base, our direct learnings from subsidiary locations and travel destinations, antic- responses to the pandemic and new questions ipative management of emergencies such as med- raised by the pandemic as we enter into the post- ical evacuations, and the reduction of work-related pandemic ‘next normal’. injuries and illnesses. Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. Table 1 Recommendations for Future IHRM Research How to manage under global How to facilitate global work How to redefine performance uncertainty (context) (process) (outcomes) During What role does communication and How have international work What matters most at the time of a pandemic support from MNE managers (or lack arrangements changed during the pandemic, and how can IHRM thereof) play in in the way employees pandemic? contribute to it? cope with the demands of work Has the shared experience of the crisis Which bundles/configurations of during the pandemic? affected cohesion in global teams, IHRM practices have enabled Which bundles/configurations of and has virtual team training made a effective organizational adaptation IHRM policies and practices are difference? and prioritization, and which ones associated with safety and health To what extent have the support have caused organizational failure to outcomes, both positive and practices offered, fostered employee respond? negative, during the pandemic? adjustment to various facets of How can MNEs recognize and reward Are there culturally nuanced work-life during these uncertain leaders who are able to foster a spirit approaches to assuage employees’ times? of shared humanity during the fears during the pandemic? Which management interventions will pandemic? What can MNEs do to communicate be most effective during the What can MNEs do within their difficult decisions during the pandemic for improving health communities during the pandemic pandemic, to help employees better outcomes for employees? to address growing challenges manage expectations and feelings of around food insecurity, mental uncertainty about the future? wellness, and health education? General (in How is the reality of growing Will global work arrangements in the What should be the key performance the ‘new uncertainty reflected in selecting, ‘new normal’ revert to pre-pandemic indicators of the IHRM function? normal’) developing and retaining global patterns or new ones? How can IHRM help MNEs to build talent and international employees? What are the boundaries to virtual organizational resilience? How do leadership styles and working: Do we need new methods What is the future role of IHRM in behaviors need to vary across to scale-up virtual collaboration in corporate social responsibility? cultures under high uncertainty? its different forms? How can IHRM help MNEs contribute Under which circumstances does fear Are there any cross-national, to SDGs, including health and facilitate cohesion or division among generational, functional, etc. safety, and mitigate unintended culturally diverse colleagues? differences in employees’ effects of current practices, such as To what extent do new ways of preferences for working from home? high-volume global mobility and collaborating under uncertainty- Are there alternative control commuting, on the ecosystem? induced stress require additional mechanisms for subsidiaries; How can IHRM contribute to competencies, and how can these alternatives for developing future addressing the ‘grand challenges’ be developed? MNE leaders; and alternatives for and ‘big questions’ of IB? What are the long-term consequences addressing skills shortages in MNE of the COVID-19 pandemic for the host countries? mental health of employees? Which IHRM practices are associated How do global threats change the with the thriving and higher way we manage the global resilience of globally mobile workforce? employees? What are the associations between flexible work and organizational outcomes? ideas and knowledge across disciplines (Andersson CONCLUSION et al., 2019). The experience of the COVID-19 crisis Buckley et al. (2017) have pointed out that a has showed again that useful knowledge of IHRM, which could inform and support management ‘‘narrow scope of research has potentially hindered practice, remains dispersed and fragmented. There IB scholars from studying more impactful research are many reasons for this, yet we cannot answer the questions’’ (p. 1048). The same can be said of IHRM. Despite the intrinsic multi-disciplinary ‘big questions’ unless we share knowledge and nature of the topics in which IHRM scholars are collaborate in multidisciplinary research. interested, there has been little cross-pollination of Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. This Editorial has hopefully demonstrated that 2 Professor Mark Huselid (D’Amore-McKim School the most useful knowledge for management prac- of Business, Northeastern University, USA). Presen- tice is derived from IHRM research with the tation at the mini-conference on ‘‘Human Capital following features: multidisciplinary in nature, Analytics’’, Copenhagen Business School, October multi-stakeholder oriented, multilevel, and methodologically pluralist. This is what the future 3 As one senior executive explained: ‘‘Some 5 s of IHRM should look like, for it to perform a become 9 s, but other 5 s failed to 3 s’’ (the valuable role in IB scholarship (Buckley et al., company is using the performance scale ranging 2017). The COVID-19 crisis, as a global shock, from 1 (min) to 10 (max)). illustrates once again that IHRM researchers have 4 https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/ an opportunity – but also the shared responsibility strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/the-restart? – to make a difference. They can do so by providing cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck&hlkid=17bde39d07df446 inspired responses, grounded in state-of-the-art db8ee005b1edb0404&hctky=9992611&hdpid=d7377 scholarly work, to the grand challenges of our time. 876-06d5-4721-83eb-57e9fccaebf4. https://hbr.org/2020/04/how-the-coronavirus- crisis-is-redefining-jobs. NOTES https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8928700/. REFERENCES Adamovic, M. 2018. 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International HRM insights for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic: Implications for future research and practice

Journal of International Business Studies , Volume 51 (5) – Jun 2, 2020

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© Academy of International Business 2020
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0047-2506
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1478-6990
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10.1057/s41267-020-00335-9
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Abstract

Paula Caligiuri , We show the relevance of extant international business (IB) research, and more Helen De Cieri , specifically work on international human resources management (IHRM), to Dana Minbaeva , address COVID-19 pandemic challenges. Decision-makers in multinational 4,5,6 enterprises have undertaken various types of actions to alleviate the impacts of Alain Verbeke and the pandemic. In most cases these actions relate in some way to managing Angelika Zimmermann distance and to rethinking boundaries, whether at the macro- or firm-levels. Managing distance and rethinking boundaries have been the primary focus of D’Amore-McKim School of Business, much IB research since the IB field was established as a legitimate area of Northeastern University, 312C Hayden Hall, 360 academic inquiry. The pandemic has led to increased cross-border distance Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02124, USA; 2 problems (e.g., as the result of travel bans and reduced international mobility), Monash Business School, Monash University, and often also to new intra-firm distancing challenges imposed upon previously 900 Dandenong Road, Caulfield East, VIC 3145, Australia; Copenhagen Business School, Kilevej co-located employees. Prior IHRM research has highlighted the difficulties 14, Copenhagen 2000, Denmark; Haskayne presented by distance, in terms of employee selection, training, support, health School of Business, University of Calgary, 2500 and safety, as well as leadership and virtual collaboration. Much of this thinking University Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, is applicable to solve pandemic-related distance challenges. The present, Canada; Henley Business School, University of extreme cases of requisite physical distancing need not imply equivalent Reading, Reading, UK; Solvay Business School, increases in psychological distance, and also offer firms some insight into the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium; unanticipated benefits of a virtual workforce – a type of workforce that, quite School of Business and Economics, possibly, will influence the ‘new normal’ of the post-COVID world. Extant IHRM Loughborough University, Ashby Road, research does offer actionable insight for today, but outstanding knowledge Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK gaps remain. Looking ahead, we offer three domains for future IHRM research: Correspondence: managing under uncertainty, facilitating international and even global work, D Minbaeva, Copenhagen Business School, and redefining organizational performance. Kilevej 14, Copenhagen 2000, Denmark Journal of International Business Studies (2020) 51, 697–713. e-mail: dm.si@cbs.dk https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-020-00335-9 INTRODUCTION COVID-19 altered every person’s reality overnight. Individuals, cities, economies, countries, and continents have experienced the shock of lockdown and the fear of unknowing. Managers have had to make many decisions in a very short period of time – decisions about who should stay at work and who should go home; how and where people could be moved into digital space; and what the priorities are and how those priorities can best be communicated to employees. In 2019, Ernst & Young surveyed 500 board members and chief executive officers (CEOs) globally and found that only Online publication date: 2 June 2020 International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. 20% of the executives surveyed believed their The field of IB has long accounted for the companies were prepared to respond to a large challenges associated with significant global threats adverse risk (EY, 2020). A few short months later, and issues concerning geographical distance. From the COVID-19 pandemic crisis arrived and proved the lens of IB generally, and international human that their concerns were well founded. Concerns resource management (IHRM) specifically, we can related to global supply chain vulnerabilities and recast the issues emerging from the current COVID- financial resilience have come to the fore during 19 pandemic in terms of the existing academic the COVID-19 pandemic, along with significant knowledge base. By holding up this theoretical strategic human talent concerns. BCG has called mirror, we can more clearly see the issues and offer the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic a ‘‘people-based insights to MNE managers facing challenges in crisis.’’ We agree. leading their people through this crisis. In this The Economist noted that just as the financial Editorial, we will distil the knowledge and experi- crisis in 2007–2009 highlighted the role of talented ence IB scholars, and more specifically IHRM, have Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), the COVID-19 accumulated over recent decades to offer some key pandemic is highlighting the role of Chief Human learnings on managing people from a distance. Our Resource Officers (CHROs). They wrote: accumulated body of knowledge in IHRM has helped us understand the challenges people face ‘‘When the financial crisis rocked the business world in when placed in a wide range of MNE work 2007–2009, boardrooms turned to corporate finance chiefs. A good CFO could save a company; a bad one might bury it. arrangements, such as expatriate assignments, vir- The COVID-19 pandemic presents a different challenge – tual international work, global project teams, and and highlights the role of another corporate function, often frequent international travel (Shaffer, Kraimer, unfairly dismissed as soft. Never before have more firms Chen & Bolino, 2012). This academic knowledge needed a hard-headed HR boss. is particularly useful for human resource managers The duties of chief people officers, as human-resources heads are sometimes called, look critical right now. They must today, as they face new challenges and difficult keep employees healthy; maintain their morale; oversee a decisions during this pandemic. vast remote-working experiment; and, as firms retrench, The purpose of this Editorial is not to conduct a consider whether, when and how to lay workers off. Their comprehensive review of the literature; rather, the in-trays are bulging.’’ (The Economist, March 24th, 2020). goal is to select a few key themes and opportunities for ‘quick wins’ that could be immediately applied The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed a massive in MNE managerial practice. At the end of this number of employees, who were already facing Editorial, we go back to the academic literature and stress from the health risk itself, to working from offer suggestions for future research in IHRM. These home. Compounding this stressor, many managers suggestions represent the topics where practice are now leading remote teams for the first time. would be better served from a deeper knowledge This sudden change has exacerbated the challenges base. Thus, our suggestions for future research in of collaborating and leading from a distance, IHRM relate to the broader gaps in the IB literature challenges we in the field of international business that, if filled, could help answering the next ‘big (IB) understand well, but that have remained questions’ in IB (Buckley, Doh, & Benischke, 2017). largely unaddressed in management practice. In 2018, RW3 surveyed 1620 employees from 90 countries regarding their experiences working on HANDLING THE COVID-19 CRISIS ‘global virtual teams’ in multinational enterprises (MNEs). While most of the respondents identified Insights from IHRM’s Selection, Training, and Employee Support Literature their work on global virtual teams as important for The field of IHRM has long understood that when job success, only 22% received training on how best employees are in novel or uncertain contexts, they to work in their geographically distributed teams, experience stress (Anderze ´ n & Arnetz, 1997; 90% of which had two or more cultures repre- Richards, 1996; Stahl & Caligiuri, 2005). To respond sented. The picture is not much better at the to such stress, employees leverage their disposi- leadership level. Among the virtual team leaders, tional traits and coping responses (Shaffer, Har- only 15% described themselves as ‘‘very effective’’ rison, Gregersen, Black, & Ferzandi, 2006; Stahl & with less than 20% receiving training on how to Caligiuri, 2005). Stress affects employees’ ability to lead from a distance (RW3, 2018). empathize with others, consider plausible Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. alternatives, remain open-minded, engage in cog- Employees working, even virtually, with clients, nitively challenging tasks, and expand one’s expe- vendors, or colleagues from different cultures will riences to learn and grow. As the literature suggests, now, more than ever, need these competencies to when individuals encounter periods of stress and be effective. Selection is key. Companies can also anxiety, they have a tendency to seek out and find use this time to better assess their bench strength comfort in the familiar, the people, places, and for culturally agile talent in order to understand even food that are the most predictable; this is the who will be most effective in situations of growing reason there are expatriate communities, demo- novelty and uncertainty. graphic faultlines, and comfort food in every Training culture around the world. Research suggests that a state of anxiety fosters a The COVID-19 pandemic has produced tremen- natural desire for affiliation (Sarnoff & Zimbardo, dous novelty and uncertainty which is affecting the 1961; Schachter, 1959), especially amongst those mental health of many people around the world who are living the same anxiety-inducing experi- (World Health Organization, 2020). Even as the ence (Gump & Kulik, 1997; Schachter, 1959). For health risks of the pandemic begin to wane in some global teams in MNEs that have existing familiarity, countries and the probability of a vaccine appears the COVID-19 pandemic offers an ideal time to high, the novel ways of working remotely and the foster cross-cultural team cohesion and to validate fears around the global recession will continue to expectations of reliability since the health-related produce a state of uncertainty. In their stress- stress is present everywhere in the world. Training induced, cognitively reduced state, employees will to support relationship formation would be well- have a particularly difficult time working effectively received at this time when every team member, in different countries and with people from differ- irrespective of country, is experiencing a similar ent cultures, especially in instances of high unfa- stressor. The shared stress, anxiety, and frustrations miliarity. There is not enough bandwidth, so to can create ties that further bind already collegial speak, for even greater novelty and more uncer- global teams. This shared experience has the tainty. Based on knowledge from the IHRM litera- potential to enhance cohesion going forward. ture, a number of selection, training, and support For the many team members who have not yet practices can positively mitigate the concerns at received cross-cultural training on relationship hand. formation across borders, any lessons learned Selection through training, (if offered today) would land on IHRM has taught us that some people are naturally fertile soil, because team members already have a better than others at managing stress and uncer- shared ‘‘enemy’’ in COVID-19. This cross-cultural tainty, enabling them to make better decisions and training in MNEs would help reduce ambiguity for work more effectively across countries and cultures cross-cultural differences by offering skill-building (Shaffer et al., 2006). Employees with a higher on how to collaborate across cultures; how to tolerance of ambiguity are less likely to experience actively seek similarities with colleagues from dif- the negative effects of stress caused by working in a ferent cultures; how to use technology inclusively; context with greater uncertainty (Frone, 1990). how to set team-level ground rules for communi- Employees with resilience not only bounce back cation and work-flow, and the like. This training after stressful situations but also find positive could also help colleagues from different cultures meaning from them (Tugade & Fredrickson, become mindful of situations where they might be 2004). Likewise, employees with natural curiosity rushing to judgement because of their ‘‘reduced can adapt better to novel situations, thrive in situ- bandwidth’’ state. It could also teach them how to ations of anxiety and uncertainty, and be more add respectful questioning into cross-cultural work creative and open-minded (Hagtvedt, Dossinger, groups to thwart the negative aspects of Harrison, & Huang, 2019; Kashdan, Sherman, Yar- stereotypes. bro, & Funder, 2013). Just as the shared stressful experience among During this period of global stress and uncer- colleagues can facilitate their emotional bonding, tainty, organizations (and especially MNEs) should there are other HRM practices that would land well select for these three critical, cultural agility com- if offered in this current COVID-19 climate. For petencies: tolerance for ambiguity, resilience, and example, employees’ need for professional growth curiosity for all employees working multiculturally. is likely to strengthen many employees’ desire to Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. receive additional training. The psychology litera- MNEs need to foster cohesion during this time of ture offers substantial evidence that one of our uncertainty by using the above selection, training, fundamental human motivators is the need for and support practices. competence (Deci, Olafsen, & Ryan, 2017). During Insights from IHRM’s Management of Health the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of professional and Safety stimulation while working from home is fostering The COVID-19 pandemic has brought health and more self-directed knowledge-seeking to satisfy the safety issues to center stage and has placed a need to learn, grow, and demonstrate competence. spotlight on the role of the HRM function in For example, LinkedIn Learning courses have seen a managing the health and safety of the interna- threefold increase in usage since the start of stay-at- tional workforce. While management researchers home orders (Forbes, 2020). With a growing inter- already know well that employees’ health and est in self-directed learning, companies should safety are linked to the demands (such as a heavy actively harness this time to invest in the skill workload) and resources (such as a supportive development of employees. At a time when manager) at work, the international HRM field employees’ desire to learn, grow, and demonstrate offers specific learnings about managing health and competence is heightened, companies that offer safety for a spatially dispersed and mobile work- access to, or reimburse, employees’ online training force. In IHRM, we understand the challenges of achieve a clear win–win; they increase talent capa- protecting employees, and their families, from bility and, concurrently, foster employee injury and illness across national boundaries and motivation. in different work arrangements (Gannon & Para- Support skevas, 2019; Shaffer et al., 2012). Research in In IHRM, we understand how an individual’s IHRM, alongside scholarship in fields such as comfort or fit within a given environment can health and psychology, has shown that globally mobile employees face specific job demands that affect their success, and also that organizational support can positively affect adjustment in a novel can affect their health and safety (Anderzen& environment (Takeuchi, Wang, Marinova, & Yao, Arnetz, 1997; Druckman, Harber, Liu, & Quigley, 2009). Those who work on global cross-national 2014). Frequent travel, high workloads, long work teams in MNEs face health risks due to require- hours, and job pressure lead to negative health consequences (Bader, 2015) and also negatively ments to operate across time zones, with flexible schedules, and expectations of availability around affect psychological well-being and family relation- the clock (Lirio, 2017). In the ambiguity of both ships (Jensen & Knudsen, 2017). We also know, global work and current COVID-19 pandemic, the however, that globally mobile work can be stimu- issues for which support is needed will vary lating and rewarding in many positive ways (Ren, Yunlu, Shaffer, & Fodchuck, 2015). depending on the person’s work-life issues, but organizational support remains critical (Kraimer, During the pandemic, life has changed a lot for Wayne, & Jaworski, 2001; Shaffer, Harrison, & many who were international business travelers Gilley, 1999). Companies should offer support and globally mobile employees in MNEs; their practices to help mitigate stress such as webinars current ‘‘grounding’’ may mean they are experienc- ing a sense of loss. Their frequent travel, hotel on resilience, tutorials on mindfulness (De Cieri, Shea, Cooper, and Oldenburg, 2019), employee accommodation, and business dinners have been assistance programs, and virtual counseling ser- replaced by stay-at-home restrictions and virtual vices. These stress-mitigating offerings would be meetings. The stress caused by the demands of particularly helpful for employees who engage in virtual global work is real; many employees are experiencing long work hours to accommodate virtual work at the international level, as they face additional stress. time zones and performance challenges in less than The world is experiencing a collective state of ideal remote working conditions. These tangible stress, but the global economy will not pause for work challenges all occur with the backdrop of job insecurity and future economic uncertainty. The employees requiring time to be ready to come out changed work conditions during the pandemic of their comfort zone to work again in different countries and with people from different cultures. present new challenges for employees’ health and More than ever, human resources managers in safety. Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. Communication and support for health and safety employees to work from home during the COVID- IHRM activities such as international family relo- 19 crisis (Gartner, 2020). Because this shift has been cations provide a knowledge base that is of partic- involuntary, continues over a lengthy period, and ular value in the pandemic because IHRM is more requires entire households to be house-bound, likely than other functional areas in the MNE or there is more potential for employees to experience domestic HRM to deal with the interface between increased work hours, as well as increased work-life employees’ professional and private lives (Mayer- conflict. For employees who were globally mobile, hofer, Mu ¨ ller, & Schmidt, 2010). We know that and now find themselves working from home understanding work-related demands and resources during the pandemic, the shift is particularly is important for all managers, and particularly for significant and borders between work and family HR professionals, to support and maintain employ- may require re-negotiation and re-organization. ees’ health and safety. Clear and consistent com- There are several specific ways by which man- munication from managers and HR about health agers and HR can help their employees to work risks and available health resources is important. from home in a safe and healthy manner. There are Research on managing expatriate assignments in many simple and cost-effective ways to encourage MNEs shows that communication and support healthy lifestyle habits. For example, encouraging from managers is an important buffer against job healthy work practices such as working within stress experienced by employees (Kraimer, Bolino, regular hours and taking regular work-breaks will & Mead, 2016; Stroppa & Spiess, 2011). This help employees to switch off from work (Adamovic, knowledge can be applied to the pandemic situa- 2018; Chen & Fulmer, 2018). Communicating tion of working from home. For some people, social clearly and managing work expectations will help isolation as well as uncertainty about their health, employees to maintain their family responsibilities. job, and future will have a negative impact on their The pandemic offers an opportunity for managers mental health. Any stigma linked to mental health to explore how to implement flexible work arrange- might prevent some employees from seeking help, ments that can enhance the health and safety of and MNE senior managers should therefore com- employees well into the future, particularly that of municate with empathy, encourage wellness globally mobile employees. resources, and offer practical support for employ- Over a decade ago, Collings, Scullion and Morley ees’ health and safety. (2007) identified health and safety as an important area of IHRM practice and pointed out the impli- Flexible work arrangements cations of employee ill-health for organizational Many managers will be familiar with flexible work performance as well as for the employee and their arrangements (FWAs) that formalize where, when, family. Applying the insights from IHRM to the and how employees do their work (Chen & Fulmer, pandemic situation, managers should give priority 2018). FWAs, such as flexible scheduling of work to protecting and managing employee health and and working from home, have been shown to safety now and in the future. Overall, our goal for deliver positive benefits for employees’ health (e.g., employees is not only to protect and manage their Anderson, Kaplan & Vega, 2015). IHRM has unique health and safety but to enhance positive outcomes insights into FWAs; for example, people working in such as thriving and engagement with their work. global teams are accustomed to working from home and outside standard business hours. IHRM Insights from International Leadership in MNEs research has highlighted the importance of prac- During this pandemic, leaders in MNEs have tices such as FWAs that help MNE employees to needed to make swift decisions with far-reaching maintain their health and wellbeing to cope with consequences, communicate effectively to diverse the demands of working across geographical and stakeholders, manage resources judiciously, inte- temporal boundaries (Adamovic, 2018). grate organizational and local demands, and inspire In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many expectations of reliability via authenticity. The MNEs have been forced to rely on one type of FWA: competencies needed for leadership during the employees working from home. This is a new COVID-19 pandemic in general are mirroring the challenge for many, including IHRM scholars and competencies of effective leaders in MNEs because practitioners. A survey conducted with 800 global the uncertainty, ambiguity, and importance of HR executives in March 2020 found that 88% of context are present in both leadership situations. organizations had either encouraged or required Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. Those MNE leaders who succeed in situations of in decisions involving safety standards, codes of novelty typically command three cultural-agility conduct, quality standards, fiscal controls, corpo- related responses that they can leverage like tools in rate values, and codes of ethics. a toolbox (Caligiuri, 2012; Caligiuri & Tarique, During this COVID-19 crisis, we can observe a 2016). First, they have the skills to adapt to the number of highly effective leaders, setting clear demands of the context when needed, relying on direction, and using their transparency and authen- those familiar with the local context to influence ticity to effectively communicate the chosen course key decisions. Second, they know how to integrate of action. These leaders are also acknowledging and diverse perspectives and demands; even when the communicating the trade-offs necessary to create demands are conflicting, they can work to find an plans that are responsive to public health concerns integrated solution. Third, they know when to and economic imperatives. The ability to use provide direction, even if it is not welcome or effectively each of the three above responses is a popular. A leader’s ability to read the demands of hallmark of good leadership in complex MNEs. The the situation and respond, as needed, using the leaders able to navigate the tensions among these appropriate response out of the three alternatives three possible responses during the pandemic will above, are proving to be especially relevant during likely also be the best MNE leaders going forward. the pandemic. Insights from the Literature on Virtual Adaptation International Collaboration More suddenly and widely than ever experienced Whether leaders in MNEs adapt to the demands of a situation by wearing a face mask in public during before, the COVID-19 crisis has moved collabora- the COVID-19 pandemic, or follow to the tee other tive work into the virtual sphere. Large sections of local public health recommendations affecting society now find themselves relying exclusively on organizational functioning, they are acknowledg- virtual communication media to complete collab- orative tasks. IHRM research teaches us a lot on ing that they understand, appreciate, and are willing to abide by the norms of the situation. In how managers should support virtual collabora- some situations (but not all) adapting to the norms tions to facilitate success during the current crisis of the context will enable leaders to persuade, and beyond. We do not know how long this virtual instill confidence, and influence those whose value set-up, spanning the entire world will need to last, but now is a good time for managers to learn from system fosters certain behavioral expectations. mistakes or at least imperfections in this realm, and Integration to strengthen the quality of virtual work for the In some circumstances, adaptation is the wrong future. approach and MNE leaders need to integrate mul- The current crisis sheds light on challenges of tiple, sometimes conflicting, perspectives to create virtual collaboration that confirm long-standing a course of action. Leaders in MNEs do this when research insights. For those who had not built they integrate the cultures represented on their strong working relationships before the crisis, geographically distributed teams. During the working and managing at a distance and through COVID-19 crisis we are observing highly effective virtual communication media has made it hard to leaders use the same approach, balancing health maintain (and even more so to build) strong social demands to protect employees with urgent, firm- ties and networks (Hansen & Lovas, 2004), realistic level requirements for economic performance. expectations of reliability (Gibson & Gibbs, 2006) and a team identity (Maznevski, Davison, & Jonsen, Direction 2006), thus impeding a common understanding of In other situations, neither adaptation nor integra- norms, goals and tasks as well as effective commu- tion is the correct approach. In some cases, a leader nication and knowledge sharing (Cramton, 2001; will need to decide and ‘‘stick by it’’ – even when Fulk, Monge, & Hollingshead, 2005). Research on the decision is unwelcome or unpopular. During global teams tells us that these challenges are the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw this when busi- amplified when working internationally in MNEs, ness leaders quickly shifted operations, and made where boundaries must be crossed between coun- difficult decisions to close facilities, lay-off workers, tries, regions, cultures, institutional contexts, firms, or alter supply chains. In the international leader- and firm units (see Zimmermann, 2011). ship context, we see this response used frequently Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. As we know from research in IHRM and other contexts that may cause misunderstandings in the disciplines, virtual work also has potential benefits. virtual collaboration. Rotational assignments and It can, for example, attenuate the effects of obvious short-term projects abroad serve to enhance the cultural differences in demeanors, reduce misun- collaboration in global virtual teams by allowing derstandings due to verbal language struggles and members to develop a better shared understanding accents, create electronic trails that document of their tasks, goals, and social norms, and to build decision making processes, and save on meeting stronger social ties and a shared team identity time. Moreover, geographic distance is not always a (Zimmermann, 2018). For this purpose, the orga- measure of psychological distance, as virtual team nizational design must allow for the movement of members who communicate frequently and share a staff in all geographic directions. professional or personal identity can even feel Research on virtual collaboration also suggests closer to each other than people collaborating what measures managers can take to alleviate face-to-face (O’Leary, Wilson, & Metiu, 2014). obstacles to virtual work; to create a more positive In the current crisis, managers have an excep- work experience for employees; and to increase tional opportunity to learn, or refine means of employees’ motivation to make good on their mitigating the challenges and realizing the poten- commitments in the team and the firm. First, tial of virtual working, which may not have been managers can facilitate perceived proximity, by obvious before, in spite of much past work advo- allowing employees to communicate frequently cating the benefits of the virtual workplace (Il- and share personal information with remote col- legems & Verbeke, 2003; Verbeke, Schulz, leagues, including social media, to help identify Greidanus, & Hambley, 2008). One prerequisite is personal similarities and to develop stronger rela- to match the type of information and communica- tionships (O’Leary et al., 2014). Shared understand- tions technology (ICT) with the focal task (Malho- ing, in turn, must be supported by defining strong tra & Majchrzak, 2014). For example, asynchronous shared goals, a clear communication structure, virtual communication can be most efficient for interaction rules, and team member roles (e.g. information gathering whilst regular face-to-face Earley & Peterson, 2004). To give virtual working meetings (or in the current situation videoconfer- skills the attention they deserve, managers should ences) should be reserved for tasks such as problem also include employees’ effort in virtual communi- solving and comprehensive decision-making that cation and teamwork as criteria for employee requires synchronous interactions (Maznevski & performance appraisals. The process of virtual Chudoba, 2000). working, not just its outcomes, should thus become Managers can further support effective virtual relevant for rewards and promotion. working through each stage of the human resource Research on MNE headquarters-subsidiary set- management process (Zimmermann, 2018). The tings alerts us to additional challenges in managing requirement of working over distances should be virtual collaborations. In MNEs, employees at included in job advertisement and assessment headquarters and subsidiaries often compete for centers, not just for managers but also for technical interesting tasks and career prospects. Rather than staff, to attract and select employees who regard prioritizing headquarters’ employees, senior MNE this as part of their professional identity (Zimmer- managers need to create a ‘combined career pyra- mann & Ravishankar, 2011). After recruitment, mid’ which balances the career aspirations of skills of virtual collaboration can be developed headquarters and subsidiary employees. This will through formal training that covers ICT as well as help not only to motivate and commit employees intercultural knowledge and experiential exercises at different locations, but also to break down (Li, Mobley, & Kelly, 2013; Sit, Mak, & Heill, 2017). collaboration barriers. For example, in offshoring As mentioned, cross-cultural training is important settings, distributing widely the more attractive for those who work virtually across countries, tasks and career paths across sites may help allevi- supporting cross-cultural relationship formation ate headquarters employees’ fears of contributing and teamworking skills. On the job, new recruits to the ‘offshoring’ of their own jobs. The wide can early on be given the opportunity to work on distribution of attractive tasks and career paths will virtual teams and visit remote offices to develop an make them more willing to provide support to awareness of different cultural and organizational offshore colleagues, which can in turn reinforce Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. offshore employees’ work motivation and affective Strategic positions and continuance commitment (Zimmermann & The key point of departure is the focus on strategic positions (Becker & Huselid, 2006), especially those Ravishankar, 2016). Importantly, HR and general managers in the different MNE sites need to work organizational roles that can have an above-average together rather than in silos, so to co-design career impact (Boudreau & Ramstad, 2007). As Minbaeva paths and achieve better virtual collaboration. and Collings (2013) explain, such positions: (1) In sum, research on virtual collaborations can relate to company strategy and have a direct impact on the effectiveness of strategy implementation; (2) teach managers much on how to handle the challenges and reap the benefits of collaborating exhibit high variability in the quality of the work at a distance, which the COVID-19 crisis has completed by the various people occupying these brought to the fore. To cope with virtual collabo- positions; and (3) require unique, firm-specific ration on a large-scale during this crisis, managers know-how, tacit knowledge and industry experi- ence that cannot be easily found in the external must develop and reward employees’ virtual col- laboration skills, foster perceived proximity, and labor market (see also Evans, Pucik, & Bjorkman, design ICT, work goals, and the communication 2011). structure in a way to foster collaboration. If man- Becker et al. (2009: 51) further explain that the agers now use the opportunity to take on these process of identifying strategic positions begins with ‘‘the development of a clear statement of the insights, they can build their firm’s capability of virtual working for the future. In the long run, firm’s strategic choice (how will we compete?) as virtual collaboration skills will become a more well as the firm’s strategic capabilities (what must important part of employees’ professional identity. we do exceptionally well to win?).’’ The answers to In an international setting, this also implies that these questions will be different after the crisis for managers in different MNE subsidiaries will need to each MNE. Hence, what are considered strategic collaborate to design career paths that balance the positions must be re-evaluated. In doing so, man- aspirations of employees at different sites and foster agers may still be guided by the second and third their motivation to work with each other. elements listed above (high variability in perfor- mance and unique, firm-specific know how), but Insights from Global Talent Management the first element may need to be reconsidered. In The COVID-19 crisis has stretched organizational defining strategic positions, now and in the post- resources and has accentuated key organizational Corona crisis, the emphasis needs to shift from a capabilities. The crisis has exposed ‘holes’ in sup- static and reactive strategy implementation role posed core competencies, both at the individual towards a more agile understanding of positions and collective levels, but it has also revealed new that have a direct impact on how fast the company talents. In our conversations with managers we can change its direction and adapt to new consistently heard the message of some surprising situations. performances, emerging stars, or someone who Notably, the strategic positions will seldom be at really showed their new side. These stars are not the top of the MNE hierarchy. According to Mark the usual, more gregarious, employees, but those Huselid: ‘‘the sorting and selection process used to who tend to be more reserved. This, more intro- choose senior executives is very extensive. Each verted group of employees now feels comfort- step of this process is based on a variance-reduction able suggesting new ideas and proposals in the system in which poor performers are sorted out or format of virtual meetings (see the benefits of developed into good performers. However, at the virtual collaboration described in the previous bottom and middle of the organization, such section). The crisis had pushed MNEs to reconsider variability can still exist.’’ Again, the COVID-19 the key question as to whether they have the right crisis revealed some unexpected and surprisingly people in the right places. Extant research on key, pivotal positions. Global Talent Management (GTM) has become particularly salient in answering this question. In Talent pool In GTM, the next step entails the creation of a pool GTM we have long been arguing the necessity of establishing a differentiated HR architecture for of high-potential talents who can occupy the managing talent globally (Minbaeva & Collings, strategically important positions (see for example 2013), starting with two key decisions around Bjo ¨ rkman, Ehrnrooth, Ma ¨kela ¨, Smale, & Sumelius, strategic positions and talent pool. 2013; Collings, Mellahi, & Cascio, 2019). Usually, Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. nomination decisions are made by representatives of MNE subsidiaries or sub-units, and based on a IMPLICATIONS FOR IHRM RESEARCH: combination of data on individuals’ competencies, LOOKING BEYOND THE PANDEMIC past performance, and development potential (Fer- In the first part of this Editorial, we have drawn nandez-Araoz, Roscoe & Aramaki, 2017). In the attention to several key insights from IHRM schol- future, the evaluation of potential should also arship that provide the foundation for understand- include cultural agility competences as highlighted ing, interpreting, and addressing COVID-19 related above: tolerance for ambiguity, resilience, and workplace challenges. The insights we have out- curiosity. lined could serve to guide senior MNE managers in In the context of the current crisis, the talent HRM and beyond as they address novel, people- pool is changing, expanding and being reconfig- related challenges in their organizations. However, ured. Handling the crisis has become an overnight the pandemic has also highlighted some gaps in stretch assignment and employees’ response to this our research: answers to questions we wish we had stretch assignment has changed many MNEs’ per- in the academic literature but, to date, do not. ceptions of their talent pool. With the additional This section of our Editorial turns to recommen- information on how well employees handled the dations for future IHRM scholarship in the post- crisis, variance across strategic positions has pandemic reality. We think that novel and multi- increased. The current situation will test all previ- disciplinary research will be needed to address the ous decisions regarding the leadership pipeline and context, processes, and outcomes of work post- talent management such that, on the other side of pandemic. Below we focus especially on sugges- the crisis, the high-potential pool may well consist tions for research on: (1) how to manage with of a different group of employees. global uncertainty; (2) how to facilitate global Prior research has shown the potential correla- work; and (3) how to redefine organizational tion between personalities and nominations to the performance. talent pool. For example, Caligiuri (2006) has Managing with Global Uncertainty explained how different personality traits (e.g., The concept of volatile, uncertain, complex, and extroversion) may be favored in global settings. ambiguous (VUCA) environments has been recog- Mellahi and Collings (2010) have argued that social nized for some time (Schoemaker, Heaton, & Teece, and geographical distances may lead talented 2018; Van Tulder, Verbeke, & Jankowska, 2019), yet employees in foreign MNE subsidiaries to be in the health and economic crises resulting from ‘‘blind spots’’ because they are less visible. In COVID-19 have given the concept further signifi- contrast, talent located at the headquarters may cance. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed be more visible to – and more valued by – key extraordinary vulnerabilities arising from wide- decision makers in the MNE. The virtual reality spread global uncertainty. Uncertainty is no longer imposed by COVID-19 has had a levelling effect. the context experienced by just senior MNE leaders Introverts have been given an equal chance to involved in managing complex global supply participate in the virtual interactions and discus- chains, volatile financial markets, and unpre- sions. Everyone, regardless of location, has had dictable geopolitical relationships. Rather, uncer- equal access to decision-makers in virtual meetings, tainty has become the context for numerous MNE and has had an equal opportunity to contribute. employees who are working from home for the first The work reality fostered by the COVID-19 pan- time, experiencing job instability and financial demic has helped to supersede structural, geo- insecurity, and worrying about their and their graphic, and social barriers that previously limited loved ones’ health and safety. talent management decisions. The context, as we know in IHRM, sets an In sum, the insights from GTM are especially important boundary condition in understanding relevant for companies during the crisis period, and the efficacy of our theories (e.g., Brewster, Mayrho- they will be even more relevant in the next stage – fer & Smale, 2016; Cooke, 2018; Cooke, Wood, the Restart. The crisis has redefined not just where Wang, & Veen, 2020) and this context of uncer- we work but has altered the work we do and how tainty, which has been exacerbated by the COVID- we do it. To succeed in the next ‘new normal’, 19 pandemic, cannot be ignored. Our view is that MNE senior managers will need to revisit the IHRM should explore new avenues of managing prevailing definition of talent and their under- global uncertainty and that it can thereby standing how economic value is created. Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. contribute to answering some of the ‘big questions’ performance criteria for an MNE’s talent pool. in IB (Buckley et al., 2017). While the context of Despite recent advances in recognizing the impor- uncertainty has created opportunities for many tance of context (Vaiman, Sparrow, Schuler & streams of IB research, we would like to focus on Collings, 2018), the GTM research assumes that three key ones: leadership and talent management, what makes talent a talent is universal across collaborating under stress, and managing health and cultures and homogeneous for all MNE units. safety. Contrary to this, Morris, Snell, & Bjo ¨ rkman (2016) identified four types of human capital underlying Leadership and talent management the talent portfolio of MNEs and explained that The United States War College was the first insti- different configurations of the talent portfolio tend tution to coin the term VUCA. For decades, military to be emphasized in different contexts. Future institutions globally have been developing leaders research should examine whether different config- who could lead through a VUCA reality. Partnering urations of the talent portfolio should be empha- with scholars from the military, future research in sized in the context of global uncertainty, and IB could advance how leadership styles and behav- whether different types of human capital could iors might need to vary during situations of high contribute differently to organizational resilience uncertainty, and how specific interventions might (see next section). In addition, as Minbaeva (2016) lead to vastly improved outcomes (Adler, Bliese, points out, what constitutes ‘talent’ in the fluid McGurk, Hoge, & Castro, 2009). This could be context of emerging economies and developing especially important when the high uncertainty countries differs significantly from the definition of context creates an emotional fear response, as we ‘talent’ in the (comparatively) stable environment saw with some employees who were forced to work of developed economies. Following the traditions without adequate protective equipment during the of extreme context research (Hallgren, Rouleau & COVID-19 pandemic. If employees are sensing true de Rond, 2018), GTM research needs to revisit its fear, a leader’s role would be to help employees assumption that internal MNE talent systems func- process the context, allowing the rational response tion in a globally uniform way, using a single, to supplant the emotional response. Universally standardized understanding of what good perfor- effective leadership skills might be in play during mance and high potential entail. fear-inducing situations. However, given that both Geert Hofstede and the GLOBE study identified Collaborating under stress ‘‘uncertainty avoidance’’ as a primary cultural dif- The COVID-19 pandemic is a globally shared stress- ference, culturally bound leadership styles might be producing experience which can, according to warranted for situations of high uncertainty and social psychology, foster a natural desire to connect fear. Future research should examine this further. with others (Gump & Kulik, 1997; Sarnoff & In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, members Zimbardo, 1961; Schachter, 1959). Future research on a global team might be experiencing the same should examine whether collaborating through the tangible level of uncertainty but might have vastly COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened relation- different reactions. Just as uncertainty might be ships among colleagues from different cultures or, experienced differently across cultures, so might had the opposite effect, by creating a greater the responses to fear, stress, and anxiety. Thus, emotional distance because the ability to support future research should examine whether global one another was limited to virtual interactions leaders are able to identify (and respond effectively) filtered through diverse cultural lenses. Delineating across cultures. For example, the same leadership the circumstances under which fear facilitates communication to address employees’ uncertainty cohesion (or division) among culturally diverse might have differentially effective responses, colleagues would be important for generating depending on their cross-cultural context. IB schol- interventions. ars could partner with scholars in neuroscience to IHRM has long understood that certain compe- understand differences in cross-cultural emotional tencies affect success when working under stress in responses and how to recognize and address these different countries and with people from different in an international business context. cultures (Shaffer et al., 2006). Future research The ever-growing global uncertainty shapes should examine the extent to which this new way assumptions beyond talent management, especially of collaborating under stress in a context of uncer- with respect to the choice of selection and tainty will require additional competencies. In Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. addition to competencies, future research should Global teams and virtual collaboration examine whether employees’ experiences have For IHRM, the COVID-19 pandemic has high- lighted the importance of how employees can work better prepared them to succeed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It might be the case that effectively across borders while remaining at home. employees who have lived and worked abroad The focus on global teams has become particularly would be better able to collaborate effectively in a salient. With employees sharing the same global high-uncertainty environment. stressor, future studies should examine whether their experience of getting through it together has Health and safety fostered greater cohesion and, if so, whether those The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that manag- MNEs that have spent time to train their employees ing employees’ health and safety is a key challenge on cross-cultural virtual collaboration now have for IHRM, and this is an important component of global teams with greater expectations of reliability the grand challenge faced by MNEs in understand- among the members. Working from home has ing how to deal with social responsibility (Buckley exposed employees’ full selves as conference calls et al., 2017). However, IHRM scholars (and practi- are bringing colleagues into each other’s homes, tioners) are unlikely to command the entire reser- possibly seeing each other’s pets, children, and voir of requisite knowledge to investigate all the home de ´ cor. Future studies should examine mental, physiological, and even physical problems whether the COVID-19 pandemic has fostered that employees may experience during and after greater global virtual team cohesion by providing the pandemic. As for other complex challenges, our visible evidence of each other’s true selves. understanding of health and safety issues would The crisis also offers a new opportunity to look at benefit greatly from multidisciplinary collabora- the fundamentals of virtual collaboration. IHRM tion, particularly with scholars in fields such as researchers could use the current situation of large- health. For example, we could apply health-based scale virtual working as an ‘extreme case scenario’ knowledge about the long-term health conse- to examine the extent to which virtual collabora- quences of risk exposure, to investigate the long- tion can be effective. They could ask whether the term consequences of travel bans and stay at home methods that we have derived from virtual collab- orders on employees’ mental health. IHRM scholars orations amongst managers or technical experts must also broaden their scope of attention. To date, (e.g., information systems engineers) suffice for IHRM scholars have largely focused on a narrow achieving effective work in the types of collabora- range of sub-clinical aspects of psychological well- tions that were previously not virtual, for example being and adjustment. Yet, the extreme situation of among administration staff inside the MNE. the pandemic challenges us to support managers Future research should thus use the current who are dealing with health matters that include context of the COVID-19 pandemic to study those serious outcomes among employees, including who are working from home for the first time. This depression, substance abuse, or suicidal ideation, group would uniquely enable us to examine the which are already well understood by health cross-national, generational, functional, etc. differ- scholars. Future research should also give more ences in predicting employees’ preferences for attention to the positive aspects of global work. working from home in the future, post-pandemic. While most IHRM research has focused on global For example, are relationship-oriented or collec- work as a context with negative consequences for tivist cultures more likely to want to return to the health and safety, future research could investigate workplace? IHRM researchers can also use the antecedents in global work that lead to positive extreme case scenario to study the pitfalls and outcomes such as thriving and resilience (Ren et al., levers of large-scale virtual conferences that have 2015). now been held for the first time. Whilst this type of research may bring to the surface new psycholog- Facilitating Global Work ical and practical barriers to virtual collaboration, The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified new ways which set its boundaries, it also promises to show that global work can be accomplished, encouraging how virtual collaboration can be expanded both in us to rethink how MNEs use global teams and virtual scale and scope – to different types of work and collaboration and international assignments. forms of collaboration. Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. So far, insights into virtual collaboration have approach in the expatriate adjustment literature been gained in different academic disciplines that to determine who is best able to adjust to the have largely operated as silos. Besides IHRM and IB, various facets of this novel work environment and important findings on international or global vir- to what extent the support practices offered have tual collaboration stem from the areas of informa- fostered employee adjustment to various facets of tion systems (IS) – which has studied dispersed IS work-life during these uncertain times. For exam- collaborations for a long time – organizational ple, some employees might have adjusted well to studies, and strategic management. The last two working from home – even preferred it. Others areas have highlighted the role of the organiza- might adjust to working from home only after tional and strategic contexts respectively. IHRM employer support practices were implemented, researchers, therefore, need to draw on insights such as regular team meetings or training on how from these disciplines to achieve a better under- to work virtually. The experience of working from standing of virtual collaboration and practices in home during the pandemic could open new oppor- order to optimally support these. tunities for IHRM research to examine flexible work arrangements for expatriates. While the IHRM International assignments literature has begun to examine flexible work With countries’ borders closed for fear of the arrangements in the context of global teams COVID-19 virus spreading further, the idea of an (Adamovic, 2018), there has been little attention upward trajectory of international assignments to date to the FWAs used in other types of seems highly unlikely. Assuming that fewer international work. employees will be sent abroad to live and work in Rethinking how MNEs use global teams and virtual the context of international assignments, future collaboration and international assignments, could research will need to investigate alternative control constitute important elements in a reconfiguration MNE mechanisms for subsidiaries, alternatives for of the IHRM function. There is an opportunity for developing future global leaders, and alternatives IHRM research to collect relevant and useful evi- for addressing skill shortages in host countries. For dence to facilitate global work in the future, by example, could technology-driven control mecha- examining the role of the IHRM function during nisms successfully replace an expatriate leader sent and after the crisis. Even large organizations with from headquarters to oversee operations? Could sophisticated pre-pandemic IHRM policies are domestic-based experiences in culturally diverse likely to be re-writing the rules. For example, as settings also foster cultural agility competencies the travel restrictions ease, employers and individuals way a high-quality international assignment will make decisions about whether, when, and would? Could skills be taught to host country where they feel safe to travel. IHRM scholarship can nationals through virtually means, so as to prepare offer an evidence-base for global mobility policies them for anticipated skill shortages in host coun- that will help employees to adjust to new ways of tries? With fewer expatriates living abroad, those working in teams and the inevitable stress and who are sent abroad will need to achieve greater uncertainty of post-pandemic travel. success faster than previous generations of expatri- ates did because the stakes, so to speak, will be Redefining Performance higher. Speed of adjustment for those expatriates Minbaeva and De Cieri (2015) wrote about the need who are still going abroad will be of utmost for IHRM scholars to rethink their key dependent importance. variable – organizational performance. They The expatriate literature has evolved to under- referred to enterprise resilience – the ability of an stand cross-cultural adjustment as an idiosyncratic enterprise to respond or ‘‘bounce back’’ from shock person–environment relationship based on how events (e.g., Branzei & Abdelnour, 2010; De Cieri & people uniquely experience living abroad (Haslber- Dowling, 2012) – as an important outcome variable ger, Brewster, & Hippler, 2013; Hippler, Caligiuri & for IHRM in the context of large-scale disasters. The Johnson, 2014). Various facets of the host country COVID-19 crisis adds to the long list of shock environment – when compared to the home coun- events in the twenty-first century that have try – are individually determined for their influence included terrorism, corporate scandals, the global on an individual’s level of adjustment. For some, financial crisis that began in 2007, natural disasters the change might be better or worse – or having no (e.g., the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004; the real effect. Future research should mirror the Icelandic volcano eruption in 2010), and Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. environmental disasters (e.g., the BP/Deepwater In the above expose ´ , we have outlined how IHRM Horizon oil rig explosion off the US’s Gulf Coast) researchers should use the current extreme scenario (Minbaeva & De Cieri, 2015). The global pandemic of virtual working to scrutinize the boundaries of once again stresses the importance of understand- effective virtual collaboration and find means to ing the role of IHRM in building enterprise support it at a broader scale (without compromis- resilience. ing on organizational effectiveness or employees’ The crisis also brings home the point that mental health). During the ‘lockdown’, people sustainability, and more specifically organizations’ have experienced improvements in air quality, contributions to the United Nation’s sustainable noise levels and congestion, and have at the same development goals (SDGs), should become a depen- time tested and practiced their virtual collaboration dent variable in IHRM research. The UN’s 17 SDGs, skills. Through this, many of us may have become adopted as a non-binding agreement in 2015 by more open to the idea of reducing unnecessary 193 countries, are relevant not only to govern- travel, which at a larger scale contributes to reduc- ments but also to all stakeholders in employment ing the environmental destruction that has fed into relationships (Fowler & Biekart, 2017; Sachs, 2015; the crisis itself. Even if unexpected barriers to UN General Assembly, 2015). These goals are part virtual working surface, IHRM researchers may be of the ‘big picture’ of global development, with more inclined than before to search for new environmental, humanitarian and economic impli- avenues to capitalize on virtual working and to cations. HRM scholars have been criticized for foster sustainable management practices in this being slow to respond to these goals (Alzola, 2018). realm. As is the case with other environmental disasters Recognizing that much of the IHRM literature today, the COVID-19 crisis has been directly linked has focused on high-status professional employees, to the unsustainable ways in which humans treat future research should give attention to the MNE’s the world’s ecosystem (The Guardian, 2020; WWF, entire workforce and beyond in the context of its 2020). When seen through this (albeit debatable) CSR strategy, to address the needs of individuals for lens, the COVID-19 crisis should alert us to the whom the pandemic has exacerbated conditions of need to rethink our working practices to help insecurity, disempowerment and vulnerability. address environmental sustainability. Unintention- This is particularly important given that the SDGs ally, IHRM research may in the past have con- highlight the eradication of extreme poverty and tributed to environmentally unsustainable working hunger, and reduction of inequality, which are practices, e.g., by promoting frequent international issues that will be exacerbated as we enter a likely travel in instances where such travel could have post-pandemic global recession. IB needs to better been easily avoided and replaced by more environ- understand the role of globalization from the ment-friendly modes of professional interaction. perspective of job creation and job loss globally. The current crisis now provides an opportunity for Buckley et al. (2017) have identified the potential IHRM researchers to guide MNEs towards con- for IB scholars to collaborate with scholars in tributing to achieving the SDGs. They could do disciplines such as health economics and epidemi- this especially by examining how virtual working ology to address grand challenges such as the can be optimized to reduce the extent of commut- impact of ‘‘poverty and child mortality, on local ing and travel. In addition to examining the employees and subsidiaries’’ (p. 1055). We suggest sustainability of global HR policy and practice, that IHRM scholars have both a responsibility to future research could address the SDGs with respect join these conversations and an opportunity to to global health and safety, e.g., by examining how contribute their insights about people in the global global mobility practices integrate health and workforce. safety matters. Specific areas where the IHRM Table 1 presents a summary of our suggestions function could demonstrate its relevance might for future IHRM scholarship, informed by our include management of risk exposure in MNE extant knowledge base, our direct learnings from subsidiary locations and travel destinations, antic- responses to the pandemic and new questions ipative management of emergencies such as med- raised by the pandemic as we enter into the post- ical evacuations, and the reduction of work-related pandemic ‘next normal’. injuries and illnesses. Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. Table 1 Recommendations for Future IHRM Research How to manage under global How to facilitate global work How to redefine performance uncertainty (context) (process) (outcomes) During What role does communication and How have international work What matters most at the time of a pandemic support from MNE managers (or lack arrangements changed during the pandemic, and how can IHRM thereof) play in in the way employees pandemic? contribute to it? cope with the demands of work Has the shared experience of the crisis Which bundles/configurations of during the pandemic? affected cohesion in global teams, IHRM practices have enabled Which bundles/configurations of and has virtual team training made a effective organizational adaptation IHRM policies and practices are difference? and prioritization, and which ones associated with safety and health To what extent have the support have caused organizational failure to outcomes, both positive and practices offered, fostered employee respond? negative, during the pandemic? adjustment to various facets of How can MNEs recognize and reward Are there culturally nuanced work-life during these uncertain leaders who are able to foster a spirit approaches to assuage employees’ times? of shared humanity during the fears during the pandemic? Which management interventions will pandemic? What can MNEs do to communicate be most effective during the What can MNEs do within their difficult decisions during the pandemic for improving health communities during the pandemic pandemic, to help employees better outcomes for employees? to address growing challenges manage expectations and feelings of around food insecurity, mental uncertainty about the future? wellness, and health education? General (in How is the reality of growing Will global work arrangements in the What should be the key performance the ‘new uncertainty reflected in selecting, ‘new normal’ revert to pre-pandemic indicators of the IHRM function? normal’) developing and retaining global patterns or new ones? How can IHRM help MNEs to build talent and international employees? What are the boundaries to virtual organizational resilience? How do leadership styles and working: Do we need new methods What is the future role of IHRM in behaviors need to vary across to scale-up virtual collaboration in corporate social responsibility? cultures under high uncertainty? its different forms? How can IHRM help MNEs contribute Under which circumstances does fear Are there any cross-national, to SDGs, including health and facilitate cohesion or division among generational, functional, etc. safety, and mitigate unintended culturally diverse colleagues? differences in employees’ effects of current practices, such as To what extent do new ways of preferences for working from home? high-volume global mobility and collaborating under uncertainty- Are there alternative control commuting, on the ecosystem? induced stress require additional mechanisms for subsidiaries; How can IHRM contribute to competencies, and how can these alternatives for developing future addressing the ‘grand challenges’ be developed? MNE leaders; and alternatives for and ‘big questions’ of IB? What are the long-term consequences addressing skills shortages in MNE of the COVID-19 pandemic for the host countries? mental health of employees? Which IHRM practices are associated How do global threats change the with the thriving and higher way we manage the global resilience of globally mobile workforce? employees? What are the associations between flexible work and organizational outcomes? ideas and knowledge across disciplines (Andersson CONCLUSION et al., 2019). The experience of the COVID-19 crisis Buckley et al. (2017) have pointed out that a has showed again that useful knowledge of IHRM, which could inform and support management ‘‘narrow scope of research has potentially hindered practice, remains dispersed and fragmented. There IB scholars from studying more impactful research are many reasons for this, yet we cannot answer the questions’’ (p. 1048). The same can be said of IHRM. Despite the intrinsic multi-disciplinary ‘big questions’ unless we share knowledge and nature of the topics in which IHRM scholars are collaborate in multidisciplinary research. interested, there has been little cross-pollination of Journal of International Business Studies International HRM insights for the COVID-19 pandemic Paula Caligiuri et al. This Editorial has hopefully demonstrated that 2 Professor Mark Huselid (D’Amore-McKim School the most useful knowledge for management prac- of Business, Northeastern University, USA). Presen- tice is derived from IHRM research with the tation at the mini-conference on ‘‘Human Capital following features: multidisciplinary in nature, Analytics’’, Copenhagen Business School, October multi-stakeholder oriented, multilevel, and methodologically pluralist. This is what the future 3 As one senior executive explained: ‘‘Some 5 s of IHRM should look like, for it to perform a become 9 s, but other 5 s failed to 3 s’’ (the valuable role in IB scholarship (Buckley et al., company is using the performance scale ranging 2017). The COVID-19 crisis, as a global shock, from 1 (min) to 10 (max)). illustrates once again that IHRM researchers have 4 https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/ an opportunity – but also the shared responsibility strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/the-restart? – to make a difference. They can do so by providing cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck&hlkid=17bde39d07df446 inspired responses, grounded in state-of-the-art db8ee005b1edb0404&hctky=9992611&hdpid=d7377 scholarly work, to the grand challenges of our time. 876-06d5-4721-83eb-57e9fccaebf4. https://hbr.org/2020/04/how-the-coronavirus- crisis-is-redefining-jobs. NOTES https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8928700/. REFERENCES Adamovic, M. 2018. 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