The yield expected from successful human resource management (HRM) or development (HRD) differs greatly depending on where the organisation is based, its’ culture, resources, size and socio-economic climate. Therefore, it is imperative that the development and delivery of improved human capital via HRM is rooted in the needs of the organisation rather than opting for an ‘off the shelf’ closed option such as ‘Best Practise’ or high performance work practices. Theorists have yet to settle on a definitive model for best practise, which itself suggests a certain degree of flexibility is built into the interpretation of what it could be. Here lies the first contradiction to the pro best practise argument as these rigid principals are yet to be defined. Debatably, best practise principals should be enforceable regardless of the organisational context and strategy.
Effective HRM is, undoubtedly, influenced by factors which include culture, global, national and local context, size, wealth, product or service industry. These factors will determine the organisational strategy and influence how HRM is delivered within it. Schuler and Jackson (1987) argued the case for the Competitive Strategy to underpin the delivery of HRM with particular emphasis on cost, quality and innovation leading to firm performance. Theorists such as Storey (1992) and Ulrich et al (2005) endeavour to map how HRM is administered citing the importance of strategically aligned Business Partner’s and Change Makers who can readily covert to changing contexts and employment law. These HR models are contradictory to the best practise concepts of ‘one size fits all’ due to the requirement for in built flexibility and rapid change concepts.
HRM and its’ links to improved performance has, in itself, been difficult to measure. In Britain, Cully et al’s (1998) Workplace Employee Relations Study in 1995 lead the way by surveying a random sample HR professionals in 2100 workplaces. A further 28,000 employees also contributed to the study. The purpose was to identify, define and measure the contribution of HRM in increasing the engagement and motivation of the workforce, assuring optimum contribution and enhancing competence. The outcome was widely hoped to provide empirical evidence and give credence to the previous assumption that HRM contributes positively to the organisational bottom line. The secondary outcome was to provide a blueprint for the most effective practises that lead to monetary results. Unfortunately, the employee and the HR professional surveys were compromised by inconsistency how questions were posed leading to answers that were difficult to analyse, amongst other flaws. The results, though questionable, do indicate a tenuous link between the number of the human resource practices in place and the success of the organisation though it would be ambitious to conclude which of these practices are most successful.
Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, a raft of Universalists’ including Huslid, Pfeffer and Veiga championed the argument for gaining competitive advantage and increasing the productivity of any workforce by introducing a set of agreed principals regardless of the organisational context, cost of implementation and bureaucratic aftermath. They argued that either fifteen, twelve or, more commonly, seven human resource principals would cumulatively remedy and enhance the performance of the individual and the organisation. None of these principals were weighted as having more importance than the other and, arguably, the more complimentary processes imposed, the more successful and committed the workforce should become. It could be argued that, depending on the organisational context, the implementer could choose either of the fifteen, twelve or seven bundles of principals to suit their own purpose. Again, contradicting that ‘best’ is best if the choice of three bundles are in existence.
Using the example of ‘Job Security’,...
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