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Week 1: HRM in contemporary organisations and their principal environments. Dr Thomas Calvard (


1) 16th Sept 2012 Introduction: HRM in contemporary organisations and their principal environments. The managerial Resources. HRM strategy. Market and competitive organisational environments facing leaders and HRM. Globalisation and the world economys impact on HRM. Government policy and HRM. Regulation, legal issues, and HRM. Demographic and social trends affecting HRM. Technology and HRM. Ethics, social sustainability and HRM. Overview.

2) 23rd Sept 3) 30th Sept 4) 7th Oct 5) 14th Oct 6) 21st Oct 7) 28th Oct 8) 4th Nov




9) 11th Nov 10) 18th Nov 11) 25th Nov


Course Tips
1) Do the reading get familiar with online journal articles 2) Any questions/help ask me sooner rather than later! 3) Peer interaction welcome inside and outside class, but be constructive and civil 4) Engage with material on your own terms rather than trying to memorise everything 5) This specific course is to give you a taste of many aspects of business and HR breadth more than depth 6) My perspective is that a broad social sciences approach is key to taking HR forward 7) The future of the HR profession is you be independent, be radical, be proactive! (within reason) 8) Be reflective, critical, and balanced for almost every argument, there is a counter-argument evidence is contested

Objectives for todays lecture

Understanding organisations: environments, structures, strategies Some basic, broad ways of analysing organisational context Tools and models Types, components, and elements of the above Appreciating why context is important in general

Think HRM, Think Bigger Picture

Business/HRM analogous to other large-scale scenarios, e.g. Iraq & Vietnam wars The HRM problem: best-fit/contingency; best practice; high performance workplace; resource based view The turbulent video rental market The bankruptcy of GM government ownership Galanz microwaves supplying Europe cheaply/efficiently Swissair and poorly chosen global alliances Hatfield rail crash and Britains messy postprivatisation of rail system The National Trust: outsourcing, updating, bringing in new leaders

The Environment
Two levels: general and task; reciprocal influences Nations, history, science/technology, legal, economic etc. Customers, suppliers, competitors, local labour, specific tech etc. Open system: input, output, and regulatory environments The holy interlinked trinity: environment; structure; strategy HR strategy and practice nested in wider org strategy

So many types of organisation

MNCs or global conglomerate Public/private sector blur NGOs or n-f-p/charity SMEs Start-ups/entrepreneurial High tech Customer service sector Financial Fast or slow-changing Natural resources (e.g. mining) Quango Cooperative Traditional or historical Informal or unregulated Consultancy Supply chain or manufacturing Web-based or e-business Government or local council University Creative or innovative Legal Green or climate-driven Private equity firms

Environmental Analysis
PEST, PESTLE, STEEPLE (general environment) Short-term reactive vs. long-term proactive Placid/static vs. turbulent Catalysts for organisational change Contingency planning, scenario building Stage models of environmental analysis SWOT or TOWS contingency model Best practice? Prioritise, sample wide opinions, be specific, map carefully, be decisive

External Contexts of HRM

SOCIO-CULTURAL (macro): ageing population, increasing inequality SOCIO-CULTURAL (micro): divorce rates, drug/alcohol use TECHNOLOGICAL: social networking, cloud/smart computing ECONOMIC: international competition, recession, EU single market ENVIRONMENTAL: place/community, well-being, travel, paper POLITICAL: free markets, privatisation, lobbying, campaigns LEGAL: discrimination, health & safety, minimum wage ETHICAL: fat cats, shareholders only, whistle-blowing


International HRM
Harvard soft model versus Michigan hard model Convergence towards US model due to market forces? Yet clearly divergence in contexts also Rhineland European model: collective, political, secure social partnership, pluralistic integration Belgium, France, Spain: tight, thorough labour market legislation Supply chains and MNCs expand into other countries for variety of reasons: labour costs, natural resources, better taxation, economic centroids Reverse diffusion: learning new HRM from new subsidiary countries


Transnational Firms
*Greenwood et al. (2010). Complexity, customization a multiplex design New levels of governance (e.g. global headquarters) Essentially balancing coordination/differentiation Knowledge on multiple axes Nascent, overlapping communities Client management systems/teams provide another axis Partner level is key global threshold (Surprising?) culture of loyalty and reciprocity

Chit-chat: Trends Reports

Turn to person(s) next to you CIPD (2013); SHRM (2009) What trends have you experienced in work? Which most interest/stand out in reports to you? How can HR help engage such contextual issues?


Internal context
Organisation studies What is an organisation for? From mangerial orthodoxy through to radical postmodernism Taylorism, (post-)Fordism, Human Relations, human factors, positive psychology Managing culture and excellence Post-bureaucracy Casino capitalism CLIPS: culture, layout, innovation, power/control, social The formal/informal iceberg


Organisational Structure
Bureaucracy: line and staff. Iron cage or safety net? Divisionalisation: GM from 1920s, MNCs, internal markets Matrix: US aerospace from 1960s Network: boundary spanning, communities of practice (e.g. CIPD), T-shaped role of managers Virtual: mobile, boundaryless, outsourced, flexible Other hybrids? (e.g. Ambidextrous) Morgans metaphors/images of organisation Multiple teams and multiple roles Integration, cross-functional, self-managing Beware zeitgeist, fads, clich!


Morgans organisational images

Machines Brains Organisms Cultures Political systems Psychic prisons Flux/transformation Instruments of domination


Hierarchy (Halevy et al., 2011)

Love or hate hierarchies? 1) Psychologically rewarding and meets needs (e.g. fairness) 2) Acts as a powerful incentive system 3) Provides groups/collectives with complementarity 4) Increases coordination 5) Reduces conflict, enhances cooperation in contexts where: Interdependence is linked to performance Legitimacy (e.g. merit or seniority, or both?) Alignment of basis (e.g. power AND status)

Strategic Alliances
Increasingly common, but many may be failures Can be between competing or non-competing firms Partnerships, supply chains, and outsourcing Outsourcing: IT and many aspects of HR Partial outsourcing: shared-service centres Tricky combination of flexibility, innovation, integration


Legal, financial, moral, or mix Parties who may wish to influence mission, objectives, and strategies Stakeholder mapping; power x interest. Power, legitimacy, urgency. Mitchell: latent expectant definitive Having a stakeholder board Principles of public life; public service assumptions Positive-sum games? E.g. Gain-sharing


Corporate Governance and CSR

Survival, sustainability, and reputation Optimise stakeholder contributions Europe: two-tier boards of shareholders and employees Shareholders increasingly other companies Scrutinising annual reports, sharing in profits, and appointing/removing directors Employees statutory rights Consumer protection laws, Office of Fair Trading Land use, pollution control, noise levels Private vs. public. Public sector much more obliged Professional codes of ethics (BMA) Complaints commissions (IPCC) CSR, ethics: weighs in against short-term profit max.

Models connecting the dots

EVR congruence model (Thompson) Competitive strategy model 3 ways (Porter) Miles and Snow model 4 systems Basic mechanistic-organic dichotomy Pendulum swing as CEOs change Contingencies Approaches have implications for HR and change



Strategy for 2015?


Context (Johns, 2001; 2006)

Academics often downplay context Constraints and opportunities for action Levels of analysis Person x situation interactions Explains exceptional companies Turning conventional wisdom on its head Deadly combinations or bundles of HR Context affects base rates/prevalence Reverses causality (e.g. customers affect employees) Positives become negatives, curvilinear effects Tipping points


Where does HRM fit in?

Soft versus hard HRM Generic: Staffing, performance, change management, admin Wolf in sheeps clothing, rhetoric, at the whim of context? History: from Taylorism to high-commitment The new HR: global, legal, networked, psychological, and customer-focusedoutsourced? Debates over theory, value added, business case HRM context itself is complex and dynamic Divisionalisation, budgetary devolution, internal markets Critiques, stress/well-being, lack of evidence Difficult relationship with line managers


Top 10 Future HR issues?

1) The economy/unemployment 2) Millennials generation Y 3) Online recruiting-networking 4) Made-to-order employment relationships 5) The Big Blur 6) The (continuing) rise of technology 7) Training and development upgraded 8) Government intervention (good/bad) 9) Crises in health care 10) Globalization, outsourcing, offshoring, multinationals

Context: environment, strategy, and structure Levels of analysis: from global down to individual Tools help to focus, but risk of over-simplifying Strategy can follow structure: reciprocal links Beware clich, play the skeptic Contingency, contradiction no one best way HRM and performance; context the moving target Alignment/convergence vs. pluralism/divergence Rest of this course maps specific domains of context


Choose and outline: A country (or set of countries) A sector/industry 3-5 contextual issues (see weeks of the course) Implications for and responses from HR

Draw on MULTIPLE areas of this course. 2000 words


Kew & Stredwick (2010) HRM in a business context (Chap.1) Farnham (2010) HRM in context (Chapters 1-2). Morgan (1997). Images of Organisation [Library copies] Johns, G (2001). In praise of context. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 22, pp.31-42. Johns, G. (2006). The essential impact of context on organizational behavior. Academy of Management Review, 31, pp.386-408. Halevy, N., Chou, E., & Galinsky, A. (2011). A functional model of hierarchy. Organizational Psychology Review, 1, p.32. Gladwell, M. (2002). The Tipping Point. Greenwood, R., Morris, T. et al. (2010). The organizational design of transnational professional service firms. Organizational Dynamics, 39, pp.173-183.