Human Resources Systems in the BRIC Countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China)


How does industrial work develop in the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC)? The project examines whether multinational companies contribute to a convergence of the development paths of industrial work in the triad countries and the emerging markets through standardization of human resource systems, or whether a divergence of separate “worlds of work” can be recorded.

The point of departure is the hypothesis that the matching between the human resource system and the production system is an important factor for the successful development of companies. This is exemplified by the Toyota Production System (TPS) which is imitated by a large number of companies globally. Important factors for the effectiveness of TPS in Japan are carefully matched processes of recruitment, team organization, human resource development and incentive design. Current research on human resource systems only marginally includes the interdependence of human resource and production systems; in addition, it almost exclusively focuses on companies from Europe and the USA.

The research project combines two comparisons: between German, Japanese and domestic automotive producers in each of the BRIC countries, as well as between the BRIC countries themselves. Japanese manufacturers were chosen because of the standard-setting role of TPS in the sector, and due to the reputation of Japanese companies as heralds of a successful transnational standardization of production systems. By including local car manufacturers, domestic human resource practices are also to be examined. International human resource research, looking at the transfer of management standards within multinational companies, as well research on the transfer of production systems serve as the most important theoretical points of reference.

Following research on human resource-related causes of TPS, the questions guiding this project focus on four central aspects of human resource systems:

  • The role of human resources: what is the role and influence of the parent company’s and of the subsidiary’s human resource management in formulating standards? How is the cooperation between human resources and production?
  • Incentive systems and human resource development: are there structured career paths within the company, also for workers? How are development paths and careers regulated (evaluation and selection processes) and what kind of incentive effects can be expected with regard to performance, learning, and cooperation? What are the employees’ expectations concerning development opportunities, rewarding performance, and fairness of incentive systems in BRIC countries?
  • Cooperation between status groups and functional groups: how do German, Japanese, and domestic companies shape work organization and process optimization in the BRIC countries? How are socialization, social cohesion and control in teams supported by cultural norms and operational processes? How do styles of leadership and cultural status differences (workers/clerical workers, semi-skilled labor/skilled labor) affect cooperation among teams and superiors, as well as between direct production teams and indirect areas?
  • Participation and organized interests: are cooperative forms of work organization transferred from companies to BRIC countries, or do traditional images of authority prevail? How do employees view self-organization and hierarchies? How do domestic industrial relations institutions affect the companies?
Main content

Selected Publications

Krzywdzinski, Martin (2017): "Accounting for Cross-Country Differences in Employee Involvement Practices. Comparative Case Studies in Germany, Brazil and China". In: British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 55, No. 2, S. 321-346. (vorab online publiziert 03.03.2017)
Jürgens, Ulrich/Krzywdzinski, Martin (2016): New Worlds of Work. Varieties of Work in Car Factories in the BRIC Countries. Oxford ; New York, NY: Oxford University Press, XVII, 345 S.
Jürgens, Ulrich/Krzywdzinski, Martin (2016): Neue Arbeitswelten. Wie sich die Realität in den Automobilwerken der BRIC-Länder verändert. Frankfurt a.M./New York, NY: Campus.
Krzywdzinski, Martin (2017): "Methoden und Daten zur Erforschung spezieller Organisationen. Multinationale Unternehmen". In: Stefan Liebig/Wenzel Matiaske/Sophie Rosenbohm (Hg.): Handbuch Empirische Organisationsforschung. Reihe Springer Reference Wirtschaft. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler, S. 723-745 (zuerst erschienen als Living Reference Work Entry 23.07.2016, online:…).
Jürgens, Ulrich/Krzywdzinski, Martin (2015): "Competence Development on the Shop Floor and Industrial Upgrading. Case Studies of Auto Makers in China". In: The International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol. 26, No. 9, S. 1204-1225. (Vorab online publiziert 16. Juli 2014)
Mählmeyer, Valentina (2015): "Demokratisierung von außen. Warum das deutsche Modell der Mitbestimmung in Russland auf Widerstand stößt". In: WZB-Mitteilungen, H. 149, S. 24-27.
Krzywdzinski, Martin/Jürgens, Ulrich (2014): "Varianten der Annäherung. In Chinas Auto-Industrie sind globale Standards erkennbar - und eigene Traditionen". In: WZB-Mitteilungen, H. 144, S. 26-28.
Jürgens, Ulrich/Krzywdzinski, Martin (2013): Globale und lokale Strategien. Die Autobranche in den BRIC-Ländern modernisiert sich. WZBrief Arbeit 17/September 2013. Berlin: WZB.
Jürgens, Ulrich/Krzywdzinski, Martin (2013): "Breaking off from Local Bounds. Human Resource Management Practices of National Players in the BRIC Countries". In: International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, Vol. 13, No. 2, S. 114-133.
Jürgens, Ulrich/Krzywdzinski, Martin (2013): "Global oder lokal? Produktions- und Personalsysteme lokaler Automobilhersteller in den BRIC-Ländern". In: Martina Maletzky/Martin Seeliger/Manfred Wannöffel (Hg.): Arbeit, Organisation und Mobilität. Eine grenzüberschreitende Perspektive - Festschrift für Ludger Pries. Frankfurt a.M./New York, NY: Campus, S. 291-321.
Jürgens, Ulrich (Eds.) (2012): Human Resource Management and Labour Relations in the BRICs. A Review of the Research Literature. AutoUni - Schriftenreihe, Vol. 29. Berlin: Logos Verlag, 129 S.
Hao, Yan (2012): The Reform and Modernization of Vocational Education and Training in China. WZB Discussion Paper SP III 2012-304. Berlin: WZB.
Rai, Soumi (2012): Human Resource Management and Labour Relations in the Indian Industrial Sector. WZB Discussion Paper SP III 2012-301. Berlin: WZB.
Shulzhenko, Elena (2012): Human Resource Management and Labour Relations in the Post-Transitional Russia. WZB Discussion Paper SP III 2012-303. Berlin: WZB.
Yu, Nan (2012): All in Transition - Human Resource Management and Labour Relations in the Chinese Industrial Sector. WZB Discussion Paper SP III 2012-302. Berlin: WZB.
Krzywdzinski, Martin (2011): "Neuordnung der Macht. Die industriellen Beziehungen in Russlands Autoindustrie wandeln sich". In: WZB-Mitteilungen, H. 133, S. 29-33.