The management of human resources is a delicate balance, especially when dealing with challenges of managing host county employees and the expatriates. The need to attract and retain expert employees regardless of their nationalities is a critical role of the human resource management. The resistance from host country employees when dealing with expatriates is the perceived special treatment accorded to the expatriates as they get greater benefits and higher salaries even when they are doing the same jobs as the host country nationals. This resentment can lead to a reduction of productivity as well as workplace conflicts due to these perceived disparities in how organizations treat the two groups. In this case, the employees at Arik Airlines especially the pilots feel that the expatriates are paid more than the local pilots. Arik Air must, therefore, develop a human resources strategy to address this organizational conflict and improve relations as well as the outlook of the organization from the perspectives of all employees.
Comparison of cultural values
After the acquisition of Arik Airlines by an American Company strategic human resource plan must be implemented considering the cultural values of Nigeria and the United States. As Identified by Hofstede (2012) through his cultural dimensions theory there are distinct differences between one culture and another. Individualism is the dimensions which focus on the questions about whether persons prefers to work together or be left alone to achieve their objectives. Uncertainty distance is defined as the degree to which a member of this society feels uncomfortable about uncertain situations or ambiguity. Power distance identifies the degree to which individuals within a society feel that there is an unequal distribution of power especially from the perspectives of the less powerful. When analyzing the differences national cultures of Nigeria and the US various concepts emerge for example in terms of power distance the Nigerians are ranked high in this perception at 80 points while the American rank low with 40 points. When it comes to individualism, the US ranks very high at 91 points while Nigeria Ranks Low at 30 points. In the concept of uncertainty avoidance the US and Nigeria are ranked close to each other with both scoring 55 and 46 points respectively.
The major difference identified is that the Nigerians accepted that there is a hierarchical order and that resources are distributed unequally while the Americans perceive that resources should be distributed equally. The two culture also identify that Nigerians prefer to work together than working alone as compared to the culture of the US citizens. Both cultures share similar perceptive on uncertainty avoidance. The implication of these differences can be effective in the management of the Nigerian employees in various ways. For once since the Nigerians believe that resources are distrusted unequally when it comes to power distance it would be easy to justify the high payments made to the expatriates if effective communication is implemented to create buy-in within the organization. It is also important to develop and communicate transparently human resource policies to be implemented in the organization now that it has been purchased and this will help to reduce the fear of the unknown and uncertainty among the employees. It is also important to promote cohesion and team based working procedures since they favor group dynamics as compared to individualism.
Human resource strategy
By learning from mistakes that have occurred in the airline industry in Nigeria can help to develop an effective human resource strategy. One of the major failings is the high losses incurred due to the accommodation of expatriate pilots as noted by Eze (2014) where he stated that Nigerian airlines lose over N500 billion by paying these pilots. The human resource strategy, therefore, will be evaluated based on the cost as well as addressing the soaring Arik Air customer bases as identified by Ifeanyi (2013). The airline has shown to receive over 2,745,400 passengers in 2013 and therefore the human resource strategy must address this critical factor.
The integration of two HR approaches would be effective in this case. The two HR approaches to be utilized in the organization include the polycentric approach which involves hiring parent country employees to fill the positions and manage operations within the country while the parent country natives manage the headquarters. The combination of the polycentric approach, as well as the regiocentric approach, would be effective in effectively managing the human resources at Arik Air. According to Dlabey & Scott (2006), the polycentric approach is advantageous as it helps the locals to manage the airline reducing the resentment felt by the pilots which would only be increased if the new managers at the airline were expatriates as well. The polycentric approach would not only help the Nigerians feel like part of the organization but also feel that the leaders are one of them which will create greater commitment. The managers from Nigeria understand the needs and interests of the native employees better than the expatriates. The regiocentric approach aims to attract expatriates from the geographic regions which reduce the resentments as the Nigerians will feel better working with pilots from neighboring countries than those from Western countries who they feel undermine them due to a long history of colonization and white supremacy. The organization seeks to reduce the losses experienced by the organization by paying expatriates from Western countries yet there is still professional and qualified pilots in the African region who can deliver quality service at a lower cost while reducing the strife and resentment between expatriates and the local employees.
Staffing strategy mix
Dias (2012) identified three types of staffing options that are host country nationals, home country nationals, and third country nationals. The best staffing mix for Arik Air is the hiring of host-country nationals and third country nationals. When hiring host country nationals, there is no language barriers and also do not need cultural awareness training. The hiring costs are also less as compared to when hiring expatriates. They also understand the local laws and regulations better being more adept at their work and therefore hit the ground running when hired. Since the host country may not necessarily have the adequate skills and competencies needed by the organization, there is need to hire third party nationals especially those from the same geographic that is the North African region or the African continent as well. The cost of hiring pilots from neighboring countries such as Cote d’Ivoire. Cameroon or African countries such as South Africa is cheaper than when bringing host country nationals from America. The pay is lower for geographic third party nationals as well as bring different perspectives to the business. This staffing mix is not without its flaws, and the disadvantage of hiring employees from the host country is that it may create the “us” versus “them” mentality which results in greater organizational conflicts and reduced productivity especially when different employees have to work together. The host country management or employees many not effectively understand how to run the organization without proper training. The downside of hiring third party employees’ especially using the geographic approach is that traditional national hostilities must be addressed. Another disadvantage is that there may be regulations difficulties which limit the employment of the third party nationals in the country. This identifies that there is a need to effectively evaluate the national culture of the host country when conducting business in the internal environment.