In order to compare human resource management practices (HRM) between Brazilian and Italian subsidiaries of three multinational corporations (MNCs), the convergence versus divergence debate in international HRM is addressed. The recent analysis of the relation between the head quarter (HQ) and the subsidiaries enhance this theoretical framework. Afterwards, common features of recruitment, training and compensation policies are observed in the two national contexts where subsidiaries are embedded. Substantial differences are highlighted: an outstanding dualism in Brazil between strategic profiles and unskilled workers, in contrast less dicothomic practices prevail in Italy. To explain these empirical evidences, the attention is devoted to two influent institutional sub-systems: education system and industrial relations. The first, in Brazil is structured by a dichotomic path, elite versus popular classes, whilst in Italy represents an accessible possibility of social mobility. The second, in Brazil is deeply corporative, on the contrary in the Italian subsidiaries unions and employer associations play a relevant role in the definition of HRM practices. The most relevant contribution of this research is to enrich the debate about HRM in MNCs through the uncommon observation of practices in subsidiaries placed in two dissimilar environments, like Italy and Brazil.
Keywords: Best practices, multinational corporations, human resource management, Italy, Brazil.