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IN FOCUS: Does Globalization of HRO Mean “Americanization?”

When we started HRO Today back in 2002, we knew that taking it to Europe meant a separate magazine—and that was how HRO Europe was started in 2003. Fast forward to 2007, and Europe is now 23 countries and 23 official languages. What does that mean for HRO Europe? Read on.

by Harry Feinberg, Jay Whitehead

Think of it: there are now 23 official languages in the European Union. That means that every time an official gives a speech in Brussels at an European Community event, it has to be translated 22 times. The New York Times reported on December 6, 2006, that the EC will spend €1.3 billion Euros (about $1.8 billion) on translation services alone this year. You would think that official language glut would also mean a boom in language training courses. But no. Instead, out of desperation, more Europeans are speaking English—American English, the language of business.

When the quarterly HRO Europe magazine launched in 2003, we had plans to print some pages in French, German, and Dutch, in addition to American English. Out of exasperation (we couldn’t get our advisory board to agree on the right mix), we apologetically stuck with American English.

Since then, more than one-third of HRO Today and HRO Europe cover stories have been on multinational companies with significant European operations—Unilever, BASF, Sun, P&G, Boeing, BT, ISS, and a dozen more. At the same time, we have made an immeasurable number of trips to Brussels, London, Manchester, Paris, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Copenhagen, Madrid, Basil, Munich, and Goteberg to make sure we picked up the local vibes. During virtually every one of those trips, we would be asked to explain the HRO trends in North America.

European readers would also ask for copies of HRO Today, the U.S. magazine. Of course, we gladly doled out copies (after all, they’re heavy, and we were glad to not have to carry them in our luggage). But until now, we did not really understand the underlying market demand behind these inquiries.

But now we understand. HRO Europe readers also want to read HRO Today. They realize that American HRO practices eventually find a home in Europe. And the fact that an increasing number of HRO clients are multinationals underscores the need for readers in Europe to get the benefit of both magazines’ coverage.

So in 2007, we are answering the demand. In three issues of HRO Today—March, May, and September—there will be a special, bound-in edition of HRO Europe. The cover stories of those three issues will focus on multinational companies with significant European operations. And the issues will all feature the unique editorial you have come to expect. We apologize that it will all be in American English. We realize that American English is not as elegant as many of your mother tongues (our French friends remind us that a group of Americans talking sounds like a pack of dogs barking). But it’s the best we can do to serve the largest number of readers.

That means readers of HRO Europe will also get the full March, May, and September editions of HRO Today. The May edition will provide coverage of the annual HRO World Conference in NYC, and the September edition will preview the proceedings of the HRO World Europe Conference in Brussels. HRO Europe will continue to feature the annual Resource Guide listing of Europe’s HRO providers. And it will always include the HRO Europe Superstars listing, which highlights those in the market who are making a difference.

A side benefit of binding HRO Europe into HRO Today three times a year will be that our North American readers will get a little taste of what’s happening in Europe. We are constantly amazed that less than nine percent of Americans have ever visited Europe. In fact, fewer than one-third of Americans even own a passport. So maybe in our own small way, we can help shed light on the fact that America is, in reality, just one small country in this increasingly small world.

Tags: Contributors, Multi-process HR, Sourcing

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