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So true Chuck. And that is why for many years Intel had no high tech companies to compare to in Vietnam and had to figure out how create salary structures using data from Volkswagen and other non high tech companies.

Excellent points, Chuck. The socialized nature of many national pay systems also dictate so many constraints on individual pay that (a) there are virtually no "benchmark" job rates; (b) employers have very little discretion over compensation amounts and (c) the few optional forms of variable remuneration they can apply become prized secrets not to be shared with rival peer enterprises.

Many if not most plant managers in Central Europe demand bribes to produce survey answers. And what they do supply is highly suspect, too. The world does not operate according to US or Canadian HR values or compensation practices. Other nations have their own laws, customs and traditions.

In Russia employees receive "white" wages that are reported on the books and taxed. But employees also may get "black" wages which are not reported so they won't have to pay taxes. Bonuses are usually in the "black" category.

Great reminders of what I call 'Rewards in the jungle.' Practices in the jungle are all over the map, if you can lay hands on a map. It's often uncharted but getting better thanks to increased penetration by well-established participants and survey providers alike. In one instance, just about five years ago, for a sector with 6 players in a country of 25 million people, the best available survey data showed great reticence to report data for CEO direct reports by function. That made sense in the context. You could practically identify the incumbent by name if you had the data at that level of detail. We ended up having to make 'informed' judgments using data that reported just the minimum and maximum for that level for all functions in each company (very wide ranges indeed). As you indicated there is a fear of poaching. The custom survey (in the absence of regular surveys with wide participation) had to co-opt selected companies from cognate industries to let it all make 'sense' for running some kind of stats. It's always interesting trying to explain this kind of context and the related proposals to bosses at headquarters located in London, Denver, Minneapolis, or Toronto (real HQs of companies in this context). From the field, the HQ questions sounded like: 'What do you mean you don't have percentile pay data on green-eyed, left-handed Lutherans with red-head spouses and three autistic children under age 10?' It requires patience and strong intestinal fortitude to weather the questions and to get buy-in. Thanks again Chuck.

THIS is why international comp is fun - challenging but fun.

Thank you so much Chuck, I recently worked on creating compensation structures for a few countries in different regions, and faced exact same challenges. This article and comments on it, validate everything I experienced in the process. Its not easy to pinpoint compensation for an international position, especially the ones rare to find. Even disparity among surveys exist for the same role. Local HR sometimes can provide useful feedback on narrowing down the data per their experience, and may also be able to share a quality local survey available to validate our proposals.

Chuck, totally agree with your points. We've been facilitating the establishment of salary structures in a wide range of countries around the world. Though its not just isolated to international compensation (its just a bit more obvious). In the US we've found the pursuit of the 'perfect' data set while interesting is fraught with the same issues as international compensation. Survey systems may have great ability to slice and dice data but what you end up with fragmented, non-representative data sets. Ultimately, though its a matter of bringing folks along with you on the journey...and encouraging a focus on being market informed and not necessarily lead. Sometimes its a quick journey ... sometimes its takes a bit of time.

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