IHRM Case Study: Kidnapping of Reinhardt in International Assignment

Reinhardt case entails an employee who was assigned to an international engagement. Terramundo Drilling Inc. assigned Edward Leonard of British Columbia to drill core samples for Greystar Resources Ltd. During the assignment, Leonard was kidnapped by members of FARC. Terramundo’s Norbert Reinhardt decided to purchase the freedom of his employee by paying $100,000. However, when they realized that Reinhardt was superior in the company, they kidnapped him also.  This raises questions on how companies should hire and select employees on international assignments.

The right decision for Terramundo to operate in a region that was well known for being controlled by FARC and kidnapping was rampant was to be others-oriented and become careful not to give its employees dangerous assignments without setting precautions to keep them safe.

In International Human Resource Management, there are four dimensions for successful selection of international assignments. One of them is o be others-oriented. In this case, the company should care about host co-workers and affiliates with them. Reinhardt should have identified the danger of kidnapping because the area was well known for kidnapping.

One important thing that Reinhardt could have done as a manager and employer was to adopt duty of care responsibilities. One of key duty of care obligations which should have been used by Reinhardt is to make the employee aware of every known foreseeable safety hazard and provide measures to prevent them. It is the duty of the employer to provide a workplace that is free of dangers that could harm employees.

An employee such as Leonard should be selected for an international assignment based on the work-environment related factors due to the dangerous nature of the work environment.

Reinhardt knew from the beginning that what Leonard undertook was dangerous, so he should have evaluated the work-environment related factors to see if it is really safe for the employee to engage in the kind of duty that he was given. If the employer had no precautionary measures in mind to ensure the safety of his employee, then he should not have appointed him in the job in the first place, so the decision to engage him in that job was not right.

When Leonard was kidnapped, Reinhardt decided to purchase the release of his employee from the kidnappers. This is also unethical decision, so it was not a right decision to make. It was unethical because it encourages kidnapping. It is an equivalent of supporting the action of the kidnappers.

Instead of solving the problem, Reinhardt made it even worse. It seemed like a kind of bribery offered by Reinhardt to the kidnappers. That is why he became a victim of kidnapping. As a manager, Reinhardt should have used other mechanisms to save his employee without buying his freedom.

There are various alternatives and options that Reinhardt should have considered. One of them is negotiation. Managers who deal with international business should have good negotiation skills. In Reinhardt’s case, negotiation would be done based on the demands of the kidnappers.

The manager could therefore negotiate with the kidnappers for Leonard to be released. The manager should aim at having Leonard released in terms that are least harmful to the business. However, if the safety, health or life of the employee is in danger then he could relinquish the mining shares demanded by the kidnappers because the life of the company’s employee.

Another option that the manager can choose is to report the kidnappers to government authorities of Canadian government to pursue them as criminals. This can be a dangerous move for the company because they may kill the employee when they learn that they are pursued by superior authorities. Therefore, negotiation such as the one that led to the release of Reinhardt in the second case of kidnapping should have been used in the first place. This should involve various stakeholders including contact persons, Canadian government and other important people.

Companies operating in industries such as the mining or oil business should protect their international assignees by carrying out due care responsibilities. HRM function should prioritize the health and safety of their employees in dangerous industries and oil business. Human resource managers should provide a good working environment for their employees in order to keep them safe.

HR managers should also follow the safety and health standards of OSHA. They should be able to identify and correct safety and health problems (Claus, 2009). Employers should also inform employees engaged in international assignments about the dangers and hazards they are likely to face in international assignments. This can be done through training, alarms, etc.

HR functions may also protect employees by hiring and placing them in the right jobs depending on their skills and abilities. HR managers should choose the right person for international assignment. The international assignee should be someone who is suitable for cross-cultural environment, has suitable technical ability, understands the language of the international countries, and is willing to leave his /her family to travel abroad (Claus, 2009). This combination of factors in international assignee selection will ensure that the right person who can deal with dangers in international business such s kidnapping is chosen.

When sending employees to remote and dangerous geographic regions, all employees should be given the same employment support and workplace safety and security support. OSHA (2011) suggests that employers should not discriminate against their employees while giving them their rights to access a safe and healthy environment.

In other words, employees should be provided with equal protection from hazards and problems in dangerous engagements. Employers should not take adverse action against employees in order to retaliate or discriminate against them. If an employee refuses genuinely to engage in a dangerous business, the employer should protect him/her from subsequent retaliation (OSHA, 2011). This should be done for all employees equally. Despite this requirement for employers and HR managers to protect employees equally, the reality of the situation is not in line with this suggestion.

In fact, many companies fail in one or more obligations to protect employees equally. Some of the common practices of employers which show inequality in employees’ protection are: blacklisting, denying benefits, intimidation, firing or laying off, and disciplining (OSHA, 2011). Sometimes whistleblowers are not protected equally as other employees.

In conclusion, this essay notes that Reinhardt case is an example of a situation in which the employer fails to carry out his responsibilities to provide a safe and healthy working environment for his employees in international assignments. Employers should assign their employees with international assignment which will not expose them to dangers. If there is a danger known by the employer, he should inform the international assignee about it and allow him to choose whether he/she should take up the job. All employees should also be protected equally in international assignments, and the selection process should consider the necessary factors of international assignee selection and hiring including technical ability and cross-cultural ability.


References list

Claus, L. (2009). Duty of Care of Employers for Protecting International Assignees, their Dependents, and International Business Travelers. International SOS White Paper Series.

OSHA (2011). Workers’ Rights. Accessed from www.osha.gov.

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