Human Resource Managment

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International Review of Business Research Papers
Vol. 4 No.3 June 2008 Pp. 35-44
Human Resource Functions And Activities In The 21st
Century To Attain Competitive Advantage
Andries du Plessis, Andrew Hobbs, Rebecca Marshall
and Sherrol Paalvast
This article reports on human resource functions and activities in the 21st century and how it should assist organisations to maintain their competitive advantage. By adding value to the organisation in which it exists, HR can secure its place for the future. Global organisations are being forced to become more competitive. Globalisation of markets, changing customer demands and increasing product-market

competition, people and the way they are managed acquire greater importance in the 21st century. Globalised human resource
management (GHRM) should be prepared to take the best skilled people worldwide regardless of their nationality. Recommendations are given: HR managers will have to build a standard framework that allows flexibility to develop and manage all different workforce options. HR managers need to develop their existing workforce that will be the workforce of tomorrow so people would want to stay with the

organisation to keep their competitive advantage in the 21st century. The conclusions form the last part of this paper

Field of Research: Human Resource Management

1. Introduction
This article reports and discusses some critical issues and trends facing human resource management (HRM) in the 21st century. The main trends and issues revealed are HRM operating in a global organisation, the future generation and shortage of talented workers and the transformation of organisation structures in the 21st century. The aim of this article is to address these HRM issues through a variety of literature and views of authors in regards to the management of expatriate labour, diversity, cultural differences, retaining of employees and recruitment in a global environment to maintain sustainable competitive advantage. Some of the main issues having a significant impact on an organisation’s aspirations in the marketplace are globalisation, capitalism, technological change, international exchange rates, supply and demand, and aging

populations.
_________________________
Dr Andries J. du Plessis, Unitec Business School, Unitec New Zealand, Email: aduplessis@unitec.ac.nz

Plessis, Hobbs, Marshall & Paalvast

36

Andrew Hobbs, Rebecca Marshall and Sherrol Paalvast, Unitec Business School, Unitec New Zealand, Private Bag 92025, Auckland, New Zealand.

Organisations are faced with making important decisions every day, related to these issues and countless others, that affect their ability to generate profit in a competitive environment. Successful organisations are always looking for a way to out-smart, out-produce or out-sell their competition; they are always looking for a way to attain competitive advantage. What are the future priorities of the human resource (HR) function? The answer to this question is not simple; there is no one 21st century priority for HRM. Rather, there are many different factors contributing to the HR functions and activities and these are constantly changing, as is business itself. HR needs to embrace these changes, and use them to its advantage. By adding value to the organisation in which it exists, HR can secure its place for the future. Byars & Rue (2006) are of the opinion that to meet the challenges of the future, tomorrow’s HR’s departments must be much more sophisticated than their predecessors.

The next section of this paper is a literature review with a discussion of the different views of researchers. A range of different perspectives on HR and HRM will be identified and discussed, with particular attention to the resource-based view (RBV) of the organisation. The many ways that HR contributes to an organisation’s competitive advantage will also be examined in great detail. Discussion includes mention of how encouraging...
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