Embracing the ‘human environment’ in international business: A retrospective and prospective analysis of international human resource management research


  • D. Fan The University of Western Australia, Australia
  • C. J. Zhu Monash University, Australia
  • X. Huang University of Western Australia, Australia
  • V. Kumar University of Sydney, Australia


‘Human environment’, raised by John H. Dunning about a decade ago, refers to all human-related factors affecting the cognition, intentions, strategies and behavior of individuals and organizations involved in global business activities. Embracing this concept in research on international business (IB), this study serves two purposes. One is to explore how IB research is affecting and constructively interacting with human resource management (HRM) to collectively generate a relatively new body of knowledge: international human resource management (IHRM). The other is to take stock of the research on IHRM. Based on an extensive review of 1454 articles, including 172 articles in the flagship IB journals (77 articles in Journal of International Business Studies and 95 articles in Journal of World Business) in the field of IHRM, using scientific mapping tools, we confirm three key clusters of existing knowledge: (a) expatriation management; (b) global human capital; and (c) international human resource policies and practices. We classify sub-themes in each cluster, and examine issues and deficiencies in the research literature. Based on our analysis, we propose a series of implications for future IHRM research.
Keywords: Human environment, international business, international human resource management, expatriation management, human capital, visualization of similarities