strategic human resource management case study

The role of human resource management in business organisations has attracted great attention from researchers. In recent decades, there has been an increasing focus on transforming the Human resource (HR) role in organisation into a strategic one (Kane & Palmer 1995; Fisher, Dowling & Garnham 1999). In an increasingly competitive business environment, organisations are concerned about maintaining the functions that offer them a competitive advantage hence an opportunity to add value to their investment. HR departments in this respect are challenged to move from a paper-handling business function to a value-creating unit of the entity (Haines & Lafleur 2008; Fisher, Dowling & Garnham 1999). With the critical role of HR in the development and protection of the entity’s human capital, the transformation to such a strategic role would help it improve the long-term competitiveness and performance of the entity (Haines & Lafleur 2008).

1.10 Background

Human resource departments have a critical role to play in an organisation. According to the organisational strategy, for instance, an entity could institute different human resource practices that help it achieve its business strategy (Kane & Palmer 1995). Such HRM strategies include those that emphasize empowerment, flexibility of employees, career development and staff appraisal aspects (Kane & Palmer 1995). With an effective HR department, the entity can align its HR strategy to the organisational strategy to better organisational outcomes (Kane & Palmer 1995). Despite such importance of HR in strategic business aspects, its use as a strategic function has been limited globally (Kane & Palmer 1995; Haines & Lafleur 2008). In Australia, particularly, there has been a relatively slow integration of the HR philosophy in comparison to countries with same level of economic endowment and political ideology (Fisher, Dowling & Garnham 1999, Kramar 1992). To assess this state of HR, a case study on Australia about value added HR is considered in this paper.

Australia presents a good case through which the role of HRM in business organisations can be evaluated. Apart from its large geographical size and a good economic rating that has attracted many investors to the country, the country also boosts of a strong cultural diversity characterised by a large migrant population (D’Netto & Sohal 1999; Patrickson & Hartmann 2001). In this respect, HRM management issues such as managing a culturally diverse workforce and expatriate managers’ efficiency may be evaluated. Additionally, Australia workforce is indicated to be aging (Patrickson & Hartmann 1995; Patrickson & Hartmann 2001), an aspect that bears a significant HRM implication particularly in respect to fresh talent recruitment and development of existing talent. Other aspects that are significant to HRM in respect to Australia include the changing characteristics of jobs, de-regulation of industrial relations and wage determination following the 1980s’ industrial reforms and the general organisation culture that exist in the country (Hartmann & Patrickson 2000; Patrickson & Hartmann 2001). This paper thus aims to assess various HRM aspects in an Australian context.

1.20 Aim

The aim of this paper is to evaluate current HR practices in Australia and subsequently evaluate competencies that would help the HR managers in organisations resident in the country play a strategic role in the organisation. The paper uses a case study about value added HR to assess the HR practices in the country. According to the case study, the increasing focus of entities to strategic business functions has led to a wide transformation of the HR department in organisations resident in Australia. Cases of heads of HR department being generalist management professionals rather than specialist HR managers have become more common. Such a transformation has arisen out of the need for HR managers to demonstrate their contribution to the business value considering their high remuneration. As such, the focus has increasingly become the efficiency gains, with recognized HR managers being those who provide visible outcomes for the business within a short period. This transformation has led to a business-minded focus on HR practices rather than a strategic focus. This paper thus assesses the HR practices in firms resident in Australia to identify the aspects that would help transform the HR unit into a strategic one.

1.30 Scope

The paper will cover issues affecting strategic human resource management practices with respect to entities resident in Australia. The critical components of this study are assessing the changes in HRM practices that are highlighted in the case about value added HR, identify the core competencies that entities require in their HR professionals for success, and assess how such competencies, best HR policies and practices help address the core issues brought out in the case. Based on the identified aspects, the paper makes recommendation on the factors that would help the HR department play a strategic role in the organisation. Go to part three here.

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