This article reports the results of an investigation into the transfer of HR concepts and practices in MNEs within Romania. Using qualitative research approaches the article analyses patterns in the implementation of international HRM. It focuses particularly on cultural factors in exploring how HR is interpreted, applied, adapted, ignored or resisted in the Romanian context. We consider the point of balance between ‘country of origin’ and expatriate influences as against the impact of ‘host country’ practices rooted in national culture. The paper concludes with the observation that whilst HR values are being transferred through the medium of MNEs, the legacy of history still carries significant weight, shaping and sometimes undermining MNE initiatives. Whilst the study focuses on the context of a single country, there is suggestive evidence that the issues of HR transfer considered here may be echoed in other post-Communist cultures struggling with the challenges of managerial modernisation.