A Critical Discussion and Evaluation of the Approach Apple (Headquartered in the US) Could Take in Implementing Human Resource Development Strategies and Practices of Performance Management in Its Subsidiaries in South Africa (Sa)


This paper analyses and examines potential methods that Apple Inc., headquartered in the United States, can use to introduce performance management tactics and techniques to its SA affiliates as part of its human resource development efforts. This topic is central to examining how cultural, environmental, and regulatory variations between the US and SA affect the efficacy of various human resource development strategies and practices. The term “human resource development” (HRD) is used to describe the methodical approach taken towards fostering in workers a deeper understanding of their jobs and a more expansive set of competencies that will help them succeed in them (De Cieri, 2017). In contrast, performance management is an ongoing method of monitoring and enhancing individual and team efforts toward organizational objectives (Brown et al., 2019). Apple, a worldwide firm with operations in several countries, including South Africa, needs to execute strong human resource development (HRD) and performance management techniques to fulfill its goals. However, there are a number of obstacles unique to HR management in an international context. Therefore, it is essential to weigh the efficacy of alternative approaches.

This paper offers an analytical assessment of the methods Apple may use to introduce HRD concepts and practices of performance management at its SA affiliates. In this paper, I will discuss and then argue against many scholarly and ethical criticisms of a potential IHRM strategy for Apple’s human resources department. In light of Apple’s business and unique organizational structure, this essay will examine the difficulties of overseeing HRM globally. The essay will also investigate the cultural and environmental factors that affect Apple’s HRM function in the US and South Africa, and it will assess whether an ethnocentric or polycentric strategy is more appropriate for Apple.

Comparative Analysis of IHRM Strategies

Organizations can take several approaches to manage their human resources on a global scale by implementing International Human Resource Management (IHRM) techniques (Tarique et al., 2022). A company’s size, industry, corporate culture, and the cultural, legal, and economic climate of the country in which it operates all play a role in determining which IHRM approach is best. The ethnocentric approach to IHRM involves a company’s HR policies and procedures being identical in every one of its overseas branches (Dickmann, 2021). This strategy presumes that HR practices established in the parent company’s country can successfully be implemented in overseas affiliates. However, due to cultural and legal variations, this strategy may not be helpful when dealing with cross-cultural difficulties. As an example, Apple’s HR policies and practices in the United States may not be suitable for its SA subsidiaries due to the country’s unique employment laws and regulations.

Another IHRM tactic that emphasizes regional adaptation is called the polycentric approach (Andersson et al., 2019). This method considers the cultural and legal distinctions between nations and adjusts HR policies accordingly. The polycentric method may be useful in dealing with cross-cultural issues since it takes into account and accounts for regional differences. On the other hand, if HR policies and procedures are not standardized across divisions, there may be confusion and extra work for everyone involved. Additionally, the geocentric strategy combines host and home countries’ best human resources (HR) practices. This method considers the potential benefits and drawbacks of both the HR practices of the home nation and the host country. This method may prove useful in handling cross-cultural issues by recognizing and using the finest practices from different cultures (Kornau et al., 2022). It may be challenging to implement this strategy because it calls for a lot of communication and cooperation between regional offices and the parent company.

There are several scholarly and ethical arguments in favor of and against specific IHRM techniques. Ozbilgin (2020) agrees with the ethnocentric view if they suggest that HR procedures and policies should be standardized to streamline administration and strengthen company culture. Many say that the ethnocentric method isn’t as effective because it doesn’t consider cultural and legal differences between countries, which can lead to discrepancies and unhappiness among workers (Hjartardóttir & Lundeborg, 2017). Scholars may back the polycentric approach if they believe that tailoring HR practices to local conditions boosts employee satisfaction and the company’s reputation. However, detractors of the polycentric model point out that it might make it harder for a company to accomplish its strategic goals and lead to inconsistencies among its subsidiaries. Scholars may back the geocentric strategy if they can prove that adopting the most effective human resource strategies from around the world increases creativity and productivity in the workplace. However, some who disagree with the geocentric approach point out that implementing it could be challenging and lead to increased administrative expenditures.

Cultural, legal, and economic variations among nations all play a role in determining the most appropriate IHRM approach (Alsheikh et al., 2017). Management of cross-cultural challenges in international business operations can be aided or hindered by adopting either an ethnocentric, polycentric, or geocentric perspective based on the nature of the company’s industry, the nature of its corporate culture, and the cultural and legal environment of the country in question (Ererdi et al., 2022). Suppose Apple will use the best human resource practices when implementing its human resource development plans and practices surrounding performance management in its subsidiaries in SA. In that case, the geocentric strategy may be the best option.

Ethical Dilemmas in IHRM

Managing a global workforce effectively requires thoughtful planning that takes into account employees’ varied backgrounds and perspectives (Buller & McEvoy, 2017). This has produced a wide variety of moral challenges for businesses as they work to achieve their strategic HRM goals. The problem of cultural imperialism is just one of the ethical quandaries that can arise when HRM practices are applied in overseas branches. When one culture tries to impose its norms and values on another, it is said to be engaging in cultural imperialism. This problem occurs when companies try to implement uniform human resource management across all of their branches without first considering how those branches may have different cultural norms and values. The problem of cultural relativism also presents itself as an ethical conundrum (Clarke & Boersma, 2017). To adhere to the theory that all civilizations are equally valid and worthy of respect is known as cultural relativism. This problem emerges when companies modify HRM policies and procedures to fit the cultural norms of their various branches rather than basing those decisions on the universal ethical principles that should underpin all HRM actions.

Adopting an ethical framework that accounts for both universal ethical principles and the cultural environment of each subsidiary is one way to deal with the ethical difficulties that arise during the implementation of HRM initiatives in subsidiaries (Dowling et al., 2017). One such framework is the human rights approach, which accounts for the cultural setting of each subsidiary while recognizing the universality of human rights. The transnational strategy seeks to strike a balance between global integration and local responsiveness and can be used to solve these ethical concerns in a similar fashion (Kancharla & Dadhich, 2021). Therefore, when managing a worldwide staff, businesses must strike a balance between pursuing strategic HRM goals and being sensitive to employees’ cultural backgrounds and values. To strike a balance between global integration and local responsiveness, Apple’s SA subsidiaries have used HRM development strategies and practice revolving around performance management (Clarke & Boersma, 2017). Nevertheless, this method has moral problems, including cultural imperialism and relativism. To solve these moral problems, businesses can either adopt a standardized approach across all of their locations or take a more individualized one in accordance with local customs and values.

Cultural and Environmental Factors Impacting HRM Practices around performance management.

PESTLE analysis

Apple’s worldwide approach to HRM is heavily reliant on performance management. Different factors influence how Apple’s headquarters in the United States and its subsidiaries in South Africa apply performance management practices. PESTLE analysis can be used to analyze these elements and the implications they have for a global HRM strategy centered on performance management (Perera, 2017). Politics play a significant role in how Apple manages employee performance. The political atmosphere in the US, for instance, is stable, and the government encourages industry. In contrast, South Africa’s economy and industries have suffered political instability recently (Bushe, 2019). This uncertainty may affect HRM methods implemented in South Africa, particularly in employee relations and labor regulations. There is also the matter of the economy to consider. The United States, with its advanced economy and status as a global commercial hub, illustrates how favorable conditions can facilitate the development and implementation of HRM policies and procedures (Pradha, 2021). However, South Africa’s economy is still in its early stages of development, and businesses there face difficulties due to infrastructure gaps, skill shortages, and income inequality.

Consideration of social aspects is also crucial. Employees in different countries hold values, beliefs, and standards of conduct. Human resource management (HRM) strategies in the United States are affected by the country’s diversity and the vast immigrant population (Steers & Sánchez‐Runde, 2017). The country’s culture places a premium on hard effort, independence, and meritocracy. Human resource management (HRM) strategies, like recruiting and diversity, may be impacted by South Africa’s racial and cultural differences, despite the country’s diversified population (Nixon, 2022). There is also an effect of technological considerations. Through the use of automated systems and online instruments, technology can help with the implementation of performance management practices. The United States is a global leader in HRM innovation because of its position at the forefront of technological advancement. However, South Africa’s technological infrastructure is still developing, which may hinder the country’s ability to implement cutting-edge HRM practices.

Implementing performance management practices also requires consideration of legal factors. The application of performance management strategies may be impacted by national differences in HRM law and regulation (van Dyk & Van Belle, 2020). Human resource management (HRM) practices in the United States are governed by well-established laws and regulations. Companies in South Africa may find it challenging to apply HRM strategies, particularly in labor regulations and employment fairness, due to the country’s complicated legislative system (Van der Merwe, 2022). Consideration of environmental issues is also warranted. For instance, the United States has been at the forefront of addressing environmental problems, and many organizations have implemented green HRM practices, both of which can be influenced by the local environment. Water scarcity and global warming are only two environmental difficulties South Africa is still trying to overcome (Johnstone, 2022). Finally, considerations of ethics should not be overlooked. For instance, Apple must guarantee that its performance management procedures are moral and align with its beliefs and principles.

Hofstede cultural dimensions

Cultural differences can affect performance management HRM methods. Apple, with its US headquarters and South African operations, is a good example. Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions—power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation—show cultural differences between the two countries (Huang & Crotts, 2019). The US has a minimal power distance. Therefore, leaders are expected to be approachable, and their judgments can be disputed. South Africa has a large power distance. Therefore, leaders are respected, and their judgments are accepted (James, 2019). This can result in more hierarchical structures and stricter performance management in South Africa than in the US.

Individualism is highly valued in the US. South Africa, meanwhile, is more collectivist (Beugelsdijk et al., 2017). Performance management, awards and recognition, and team-building may be affected by this discrepancy. The US may emphasize individual performance, while South Africa may emphasize team performance (Zhang, 2017). The US also emphasizes competitiveness, aggressiveness, and wealth. South Africa is feminine, valuing cooperation, empathy, and quality of life. This variance may affect job design, leadership, and employee engagement. Performance management in the US may emphasize individual achievement, while South Africa may emphasize teamwork.

The US accepts uncertainty and risk-taking (Milliman & Clair, 2017). South Africa prefers strict rules and is risk-averse. HRM practices, including hiring, training, and decision-making, may be affected by this variance. South African performance management may be more goal-oriented than US performance management. Finally, the US prioritizes short-term results and investment returns (Dimitrov, 2018). South Africa values sustainability and future-building. This may cause US performance management to prioritize short-term goals, whereas South Africa prioritizes long-term development. The US prioritizes personal freedom and life happiness. South Africa values self-control and moderation. Benefits, bonuses, employee well-being, and work-life balance may be affected by this discrepancy.

The Fit between HQ in the US and the Subsidiaries in SA HRM Practices around performance management

Apple Inc. has expanded its activities to South Africa in recent years, and the ramifications of the company’s HRM policies at its US headquarters need to be considered in light of the cultural differences between the US and South Africa. In particular, those related to performance management (Spring, 2021). Employee performance can be measured and managed through performance management. At Apple’s headquarters in the United States, employees are encouraged to establish personal performance targets, receive regular feedback, and develop their performance objectives (Steers & Sánchez‐Runde, 2017). It is possible that cultural differences make these methods inappropriate in a South African setting. In the United States, performance management tends to center on each employee’s stats, while in South Africa, it’s more common for teams to be evaluated.

Furthermore, relationships and the concept of Ubuntu, which stresses the interconnectedness of the community and the importance of kindness and cooperation, tend to be prioritized in the workplace in South Africa (Nixon, 2022). Therefore, Apple’s practices at its US headquarters may not be appropriate for the South African context because they may not value relationships among employees as highly. In addition, Apple’s headquarters in the United States and its South African affiliates have different performance management processes. Performance management in South Africa tends to be more collaborative and relationship-based, which may be at odds with Apple’s procedures in the United States (Adamovic, 2018). This could cause misunderstanding and friction between Apple’s headquarters in the United States and its businesses in South Africa. The cultural variations mean that Apple’s performance management approaches developed for the US headquarters may not work well in South Africa (Littlewood & Holt., 2018). Since the United States and South Africa have such different cultural norms, Apple needs to adapt its performance management strategies accordingly.

Application of the geocentric approach

In a geocentric view of HRM, the company actively seeks out and nurtures the best talent available, regardless of where it may be geographically located. That is to say, the geocentric strategy strikes a middle ground between the ethnocentric and polycentric models by aiming to transmit best practices worldwide while still catering to specific regions’ requirements (Ererdi et al., 2022). As part of its human resources management, Apple Company uses a geocentric strategy for evaluating employee performance in its South African operations (Brown et al., 2019). All of the organization’s divisions use the same global performance management system. The approach ensures that workers are evaluated according to their performance on predetermined measures that align with the company’s aims.

The corporation understands significant cultural differences between South Africa and the United States, where its headquarters are located (Lockamy, 2017). Since this is a problem in South Africa, Apple has adapted its performance management system there. The organization has adapted its leadership strategies to account for cultural differences, such as the wide gap between the rich and poor in South Africa. Compared to their American counterparts, South African leaders are held to higher standards of authority and directiveness. Apple also understands the significance of adapting its performance management system to each country’s culture (Chen et al., 2021). Considering the greater prevalence of collectivism in South Africa compared to the United States, the corporation has modified its performance management system to include group targets. Employees’ contributions to the team’s overall success will be taken into account as part of their evaluations.

The geocentric approach in HRM services, particularly performance management, has helped Apple balance global standards and local adaptation in its South African affiliates (Ererdi et al., 2022). Aware of the cultural differences between the US and SA, the company has reworked its performance management system accordingly. As a result, Apple can be sure that the subsidiary will adopt the same performance management procedures as the parent company.

Recommendations

As a global company, Apple Inc. must adapt to local customs and regulations in each country it operates in. These considerations may have an impact on the company’s ability to implement HRM fully practices relating to performance management in its SA affiliates. However, it is suggested that Apple use HRM practices that are culturally sensitive to improve the cultural fit (Diamantidis & Chatzoglou, 2019). This necessitates considering regional HRM norms and modifying performance management approaches accordingly. By doing so, the organization may be confident that its human resource management practices reflect local customs and values (Liu et al., 2021). Apple should also adopt HRM policies that value and encourage diversity among its staff. This can be accomplished by providing staff with diversity training and fostering a welcoming and accepting work atmosphere for people from all walks of life (Khan et al., 2019). The morale and output of the workforce will both rise as a result.

Apple should promote good communication and coordination between its headquarters and subsidiaries to ensure HRM practices are aligned and uniform across multiple geographies (Spring, 2021). Meeting and instructing regularly can help with this. As a result, employees in different branches will be better able to learn from one another and adapt to local customs. Furthermore, Apple may adopt a geocentric approach to HRM, which places equal emphasis on local and global HRM practices because of the variations in cultural and environmental elements between the US and SA (Kehm et al., 2022). This method might be better at fostering group cohesion and productivity. By taking this tack, the company can be confident that its HRM procedures are locally relevant and in line with international best practices. Apple should also prioritize ethical factors in HRM. A code of ethics that encourages moral action and the creation of an ethics board to uphold those standards are two ways to bring this about (Buller & McEvoy, 2017). This will boost the company’s credibility and win over more investors.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Apple Inc. is a global business that must consider regional differences when implementing human resource management (HRM) strategies and performance management practices. This paper has discussed the various IHRM strategies and ethical dilemmas Apple must consider when introducing performance management in its South African subsidiaries. It has also examined the cultural, legal, and economic factors that affect Apple’s HRM strategies and practices in the US and South Africa. Based on the evidence presented in this paper, the geocentric strategy appears to be the best approach for Apple when implementing its human resource development strategies and practices of performance management in SA. This method allows for considering local customs and regulations while still adhering to the company’s global goals and standards. To ensure that its performance management procedures are effective and ethical, Apple should prioritize communication and coordination between its headquarters and its subsidiaries, adopt HRM policies sensitive to local customs and values, and establish an ethical framework that encourages moral behavior. By taking these steps, Apple can be sure that its performance management practices are appropriate for the South African context and that it is taking the necessary steps to ensure the success of its HRM strategies.

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