The "Delta Forces" Causing Change in Human Resource Management

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The "DELTAForces" Causing Change in Human ResourceManagement Allen 1.Kraut Abraham K. Korman

The world ofwork in which human resource management


operates has changed dramatically in thelast half century. Not surprisingly, therefore, the HRM concepts and practices being created and carried Ollt today are also increasingly different from those of the past. Planners and practitioners who understand this and who also have a way LOanticipate the coming changes and needed HRM a practices of the future will provide thcir organizations Wit11 strate. gic competitive advantage. It is our view that virtually all the changes we see in HRM concepts and practices are in response to changing social, economic, and business environments. We therefore need to understand these influences on our work setting because many of t1lOsefactors that have affected us in the recent past will continue to do so in the future, though perhaps in different ways. By examining these forces, we will be better able to understand what challenges we need to cope with today and those that are likely tomOITOw. In this chapter, we look at the major forces affecting the world of work. We will also layout a framework to help examine them. Although much ofwhat we present can be seen as a description of past events, the framework will also be useful as a blueprint for ~







periodically doing an environmental "sean" of the forees that are likely to have an impaet in the future.

Exhibít 1.1. The DELTA Forces of Change. on the Human Resource Enviroriment. ""

The Five DELTA Forces
We believe that the signifieant environmental HRM policy and pracúce faIl into five sets: forces influencing ~ ~


DemograPhics refers to those aspeets

of the quantity

and quality

· ·

of the workforce itself that are determined by birth rates, participaúon by women and minorities, immigration, migration, and edueation. Economicscovers issues like the basis of the national economy, productivity and labor rates, inflátion, and the increasing importanee of competition and participation in a global economy. Legal and regulalary issues include civil rights legislation and laws eovering safety and health, pl;¡.nt cIosings, and so on, as well as govemment deregulaúon in some industries. Technology involves the obvious and the subtle shifts eaused by


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Workforce makellp, age, cdllcalion, bil'lhralcs gcndcr Migrati. 11I, immigrdtion.

· · ·

EcoDomics Wage rales, inflation. compctition

· Growth, level of devdopment LegallUld Regulatory Issues Equal opportunity, safety.benefits Labor relations, plant dosings, dismissals
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new products sueh as computers, fax machines, cellular phones, fiber opúes, robots, space satellites, and various drugs and medicines. Attitudes and values refer to subjects as varied as the psychol~gi-

· ·

Communications and transportation Computers. lase'rs, fiber optics, and breakthroughs

cal "tc:~ntractsorm~d with employers, notions about eareers f and commitment, feelings about extending to cover unmarried partners, and so on.




employer benefits


Attitudes and Values
Work ethic, business conduct guidelines
LoyaIty to company, career views

· · · ·

These five forces can easily be remembered by the acronym DELTA. This seems appropriate beeause the symbol for the Greek letter delta is used in mathematics to represellt change. This fivepart framework, as shown in Exhibit 1.1, wiIl help us to grasp the relevant issues. But al the same úme, we must reeognize that many of these forces are complex and often all are operaúng at the same time. It may be useful to examine each of them now.

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The flow of people, recorded in a society's vital...
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