Book Review - Global HR: Challenges facing the function

A guidebook not a GPS; Global HR both demands, and rewards, readers’ engagement. Peter Reilly and Tony Williams acknowledge the messiness of large global organisations without avoiding or simplifying the human resources challenges of the international business environment. The book is however tightly written (302 pages) and well structured so the reader does not get lost.

The introduction and conclusion are very useful in setting the book’s scope and highlighting the key points made in the text. Each of the remaining chapters follows the same pattern with the issue identified and considered based on the author’s research before challenges and success factors are discussed.

The balance of theory and practice is reassuring as it demonstrates the authors’ research and the academic and practical bases for their discussion. Peter Reilly’s global HR experience was as an HR manger with Shell working in the UK and internationally. He is now Director of Consultancy at the Institute for Employment Studies. Tony Williams is the Director of HR, global banking & markets at the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. This is their third co-authored book.

Covering ground which includes whether HR can, and indeed should, add value to organisations, issues of culture, diversity, employer brand, talent management, HR governance and a global service delivery model, Peter Reilly and Tony Williams give examples from a range of industries and geographic locations. These provide useful insights. Occasionally the positioning of boxed examples is confusing. I also found the use of acronyms a distraction from the authors’ otherwise clear style.

Peter Reilly and Tony Williams identify their target audience as practitioners of organisations with (or moving to have) multi-national operations. However, because of its scope and clarity this book is worthy of a wider audience with a timely reminder to senior managers of the strategic role that HR can usefully play to ensure business success. The authors’ enumeration of the real and significant challenges facing the global HR function and the breadth of their vision means this book will also be valuable to students and less experienced practitioners of HR and business more broadly.

Global HR is likely to highlight areas for more consideration within readers’ organisations, whether they are global or more local yet operating in an increasingly international environment.

first published in HR Monthly August 2012

Published on Friday, April 12 2013 by RS5059-GANDI