Human Resource Management (HRM) has become established as an alternative perspective on personnel management. HRM takes many forms, but its basis is the link between personnel practices and business strategy leading to overall organizational effectiveness by encouraging strong commitment among workers. The recent desire of many companies to start or increase their international activities has given rise to questions about the applicability of HRM in cross-border operations. Although business leaders are well aware of its merits, HRM seems difficult to apply in countries outside Europe and the US. Differences in organizational structure, cultural values and legislative regulation account for difficulties in establishing desirable HRM practices abroad. By analyzing the context and employment policy of joint ventures in the People's Republic of China, it is argued here that insight into these three elements contributes to more successful international ventures. Copyright © 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd.