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International Human Resource Management UMPD7G-15-3 Portfolio Assessment 2021/22


International Human Resource Management UMPD7G-15-3 Portfolio Assessment 2021/22

 Overview of the IHRM Portfolio Assessment

The aim of this assessment is to help you to develop the knowledge and understanding that is required by today's HR professionals working in global environments.  The 2020/1 Coronavirus global pandemic had a significant impact on managing people, both domestically and internationally; therefore, this assessment also gives you the opportunity to analyse the effects of Covid-19 on organisations working internationally.   By working through the activities in this portfolio, you will be engaging with the theory presented to you on the module and applying it to an international case, as well as doing your own reading of the academic and practitioner literature.

On successful completion of this portfolio, you will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the following:

  • The role of the international HR function in contributing to the broader objectives and strategies of international business
  • Key challenges faced by international managers and the IHRM function.
  • The theory and practice related to the full range of IHRM functions (training and development, selection, performance management, reward).
  • The ethical implications of human resources management in international business.

Outline of the IHRM Portfolio Assessment

The portfolio is built around the case study of a Chinese construction firm, Beijing Rail Construction (BRC), working in Pakistan as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.  BRC’s project has been held up by the Coronavirus pandemic and plans for sending out international assignees has also been affected.

Six portfolio tasks explore a variety of IHRM-related issues covered in the weekly lecture and seminars/tutorials. As the portfolio counts towards 100% of your grade for the IHRM module, it is important that you spend a significant amount of time preparing each of the tasks carefully.  You will be expected to draw on the theory presented to you in class and to apply it to the organisation issues. However, you are also expected to engage in further reading and to do some research, in order to provide fully referenced responses to the questions in each of the tasks.   Remember to provide a reference list at the end of each task.

The table below provides an outline of the 6 tasks:




National Culture


Virtual Teams


International Staffing


Pre-departure Training


Managing expatriate performance  


Expatriate Risk


The tasks are equally weighted and your final grade for the portfolio will be based on your average mark for all 6 tasks.   The word count for the assessment is 2500 words, which means that you should aim to write roughly 400 words for each task.

How we will support you to succeed

We will be putting some time aside each week to support you with this assessment. The case will be presented to you at the beginning of the module and, thereafter, there will be some time available each week in the workshop sessions for you to discuss the portfolio task and to get some feedback from your tutor. PLEASE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS!   Please also bear in mind that this is a piece of individual coursework.   A marking criterion is available in the Blackboard folder marked Assessments, as well as at the end of this document.  Please make sure that you have looked at this before submission. The Assessment folder also contains other materials to support you to succeed in this assessment task, including guidance on plagiarism, Harvard referencing information and information about where you can get help with writing.

Week 11 will be dedicated to supporting you with the portfolio.  We will devote the lecture to covering the portfolio in depth and we’ll offer a series of drop-in sessions for you to come and talk to us about your work.  These drop-in sessions will be face-to-face and online to make sure that everyone is able to speak to the module team.

The portfolio is to be submitted electronically on 11th January 2022.  Please note that you will also be informed via Blackboard when you are able to submit the portfolio. Please only submit the work to be marked.  This means that you only need to submit your answers to the tasks (and your reference lists for each task), along with the task questions and task numbers (so that it is clear to us which tasks you are answering!).  In other words, you do not need to submit the whole portfolio document e.g., the information pages, the case, marking grid etc. Also, please do not provide a cover page or a contents page.  You will not get extra marks for this and it makes our marking easier if we do not have to scroll past unnecessary pages.


Some Helpful Hints for Success in the IHRM Portfolio Assessment

As this is a large piece of work, we have put together some tips and hints for approaching the IHRM Portfolio.  We hope that you will find them useful!

  • Consider the tasks carefully and plan your answers. 
  • For each task, the number of marks available and a suggested word count have been provided.
  • The overall word limit for the assessment is 2500 words.   Please do not exceed this.
  • Each task will require some research on your part.
  • Being able to apply academic theory is one of the important assessment criteria!  If your answer is purely descriptive, then you need to go back and think about how you can approach the question from a more critical angle. 
  • Make sure that each of your answers draws on the academic literature.
  • Do not write short notes.  We expect full sentences.
  • Use an appropriate tone in your writing.  Avoid using the first person. 
  • Remember to spell check and proofread your work.
  • Use tables charts and diagrams wisely (these do not need to be included in your word count for this assessment).
  • Read the questions carefully.  Some questions may contain several parts which need to be addressed in your answer.
  • Make sure that you use appropriate referencing. 
  • Provide a reference list at the end of each task.  Do not produce one reference for the whole portfolio.
  • Use your time wisely.  Work through the tasks methodically.  Do not leave the portfolio until the end of the module and then rush to finish.
  • Remember that this is an individual piece of work.  Whilst we are happy - and, indeed encourage! - you to work within a group, you must produce your own responses.
  • Ask for help when you need it!
  • Read the marking criteria and check your work against it.

Case study: CPEC

Since its launch in 2015, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has been associated with investment in local development, job creation and an improvement in the infrastructure of Pakistan.  From the Chinese side, the project seeks to strengthen China’s economic and security interests, as well as boosting its overseas development and global connections.

Amongst the projects underway in Pakistan is an upgrade to the country’s elderly railway network.   In 2019, prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Chinese firm, Beijing Rail Construction (hereafter known as BRC) successfully won a bid to work on the challenging scheme to complete a rail link over the Khunjerab Pass in the Karakoram Mountains, on the northern border of Pakistan and the southwest border of China.  The planned railway is intended to provide direct access for Chinese and East Asian goods to Pakistani seaports at Karachi and Gwadar and will require 5 years to complete. 

Despite delays to the project, due to the Coronavirus, BRC is currently in the planning process.     Among the considerations are the relocation of Chinese workers to scope out the work to be done and prepare the groundwork for the project to begin on time in 2025. 

The following tasks in this portfolio address the challenges faced by BRC in preparing to send international assignees to Pakistan for the first phase of the railway link project.  It is expected that the expatriates selected for this assignment will spend at least one year in Pakistan.

Task 1

National Culture

As BRC is planning to send a group of Chinese assignees to Pakistan, it is inevitable that these expatriates will experience challenges due to differences in culture.  Drawing on the wider literature, as well as the models of culture presented to you on this module, outline some of the differences between Chinese and Pakistani culture.  You should critically analyse how these differences may impact on the Chinese assignees abilities to work effectively in Pakistan and potentially lead to expatriate failure.

Task 2

Virtual Teams

One of the major changes to the organisation of work since 2020 has been the rise of online working and an increase in virtual teamworking.  Due to constraints posed by the Coronavirus, the Khunjerab Pass railway project has been delayed, especially since BRC has been unable to send large numbers of engineers, construction workers and other employees to Pakistan.  Therefore, much of the planning stage has been conducted virtually, with teams comprised of members located across China, as well as in Pakistan. 

With reference to the appropriate literature, provide a short literature review, outlining key debates around the challenges of managing virtual teams.

Task 3

International Staffing

A major goal of CPEC is job creation for local people and a greater provision of training opportunities. However, there has been widespread debate around the extent to which Chinese organisations have been unable to recruit Pakistani workers with specific and specialised skills.  This means that many companies have continued to rely on bringing Chinese workers onto CPEC projects in Pakistan to meet deadlines. 

BRC is keen, as far as possible, to offer work to local people.  To make this possible, BRC would like to offer training and development opportunities to locals so that they will obtain the relevant skills for taking on roles as team leaders and managers and, thereby, leading on aspects of the railway project.

Drawing on the work of Perlmutter (1969) and other authors, critically analyse BRC’s approach to their plans for international staffing.

Task 4

Pre-departure Training

In order for the first stage of the railway project to be successful, BRC is looking to prepare its international assignees in China as much as it can.  Whilst there is a budget for some formalised training, the organisation is keen to keep costs as low as possible.  Moreover, as the project is already behind schedule due to the Coronavirus pandemic, BRC want to send people to Pakistan as quickly as possible.

Some discussion has taken place at BRC suggesting the expatriates should take responsibility for their own pre-departure preparation and engage in informal learning in their own free time.  BRC agree that this would be a very cost effective solution to pre-departure training.

Drawing on the academic literature, provide a discussion of the benefits of pre-departure training and comment critically on the value of informal versus formal learning for overcoming cultural challenges on assignment.

Task 5

International Performance Management

Much of the international performance management literature – both academic and practitioner - is based on a Western best practice model, emphasising, for example, individualised goal setting and high-performance work systems. 

With reference to relevant literature, compare and contrast Chinese and Western performance management and critically discuss how managers at BRC could display (culturally-based) assumptions around performance, autonomy and accountability when managing the performance of expatriates.

Task 6


A key consideration around expatriate management is the assurance of safety.  BRC is aware of reports of increased threats of terrorism and sabotage aimed at Chinese expatriates working on CPEC projects.

Drawing on the literature around expatriate risk, outline some of the risks that BRC need to be aware of when sending employees into Pakistan and design a risk management plan to be implemented.

Marking Criteria – IHRM Portfolio







Evidence of analysis and critical evaluation (i.e. apply theories/discusses strengths and weaknesses of selected theories)

Excellent, thorough and rigorous analysis of the literature. Exceptional attempt to select appropriate literature. Exceptional insight and understanding. Good originality of application of further sources


Good attempt to incorporate a range of relevant theoretical insights as a means for analysing the issues raised by the task.

Some theoretical explanations have been described but may not have been fully applied or evaluated.

Theoretical insights are very limited and need to be developed.

Little evidence of engagement with theoretical explanations. The assignment is overly descriptive

Awareness of the international context and implications on management practice

Excellent awareness of the impact of cultural differences as well as wider changes in the global business environment on IHRM practices. Exceptional consideration of these indicated in suggested actions

Good awareness of the impact of cultural differences and attention given to wider changes in the global business environment on HRM practices. Good consideration of these indicated in suggested actions


Some awareness of the impact of cultural differences but this may not have been fully applied in suggested actions

Limited awareness of cultural differences and it has not been fully applied in suggested actions.

Little attempt to discuss cultural differences and its implication on management practice has not been considered.


Use of course and additional materials

Course materials are critically examined and applied to an outstanding level.  Outstanding originality of application of further sources, using a critical approach to develop arguments.

Good use is made of course materials and there is evidence of good wider reading.


Good use is made of course materials but there is limited evidence of wider reading around the topic.

Limited use has been made of the course materials and there is no evidence of wider reading.

Insufficient use has been made of the course materials. The assignment is overly descriptive and anecdotal.


Structure that is coherently organised and presents the argument in a logical way

Discussion provides an exceptionally robust and concise synthesis and interpretation. Exceptional attempt to create flow and fluency.


The assignment follows a clear structure with an introduction, main arguments and concluding remarks.


There is an introduction and concluding remarks but there may be some structural weaknesses in the assignment

There is an introduction and concluding remarks but there may be some structural weaknesses in the assignment.


Structure is extremely muddled, and it is difficult to follow the argument.

Good quality writing (engaging, clear and succinct) and appropriate use of referencing



Highest standards of literacy and professional presentation, following the structure specified in the brief. Exceptional use of external sources, referencing that conforms precisely to Harvard requirements.


Writing style is clear with few grammatical/spelling errors. The referencing is accurate and complete for the most part and follows the Harvard protocol.

Writing style is generally clear although there may be grammatical /spelling errors that detract from the meaning in places.  Referencing does not always follow Harvard style and/or there are some inaccuracies /omissions.

Writing style is unclear in places and this detracts from the content. Referencing does not follow Harvard style and/or there are major inaccuracies / omissions.

Poor standards of literacy, presentation, and structure.

Poor use of external sources, referencing that does not conform to Harvard requirements.



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