International Management and HRM
The Overall Task
For this assignment you are required to select an International company where you can access published data about a specific area of HRM practice and produce a report that critically assesses the extent to which your chosen organization’s approach appears to address the know limitations/criticisms about that aspect of HRM in the academic literature.
As some HRM practices are underpinned by theories drawn from the field of management and organizational studies, you will need to refer to these theories in your report too.
Choose one of the HRM topics below, as the basis for your report:
1. Reward strategy: this area of HRM practice is often considered one of the more difficult and complex areas to get right. Reward strategies in financial services companies in particular have been subject to much criticism of late, as the focus has been on short-term gains for a limited group of people. Issues of equity and fairness thus appear to have been ignored. Reward in public sector organizations has equally been subject to much criticism, given the austerity measures introduced by governments due to the latest economic crisis.
2. Talent management: this is reportedly anarea of HRM that keeps Chief Executives awake at night, howeverthe concept has been strongly criticised as one that lacks a clear definition and purpose. If you choose this topic then you could explore some of the myths relating to talent management, including the extent to which your chosen organization adopts an inclusive, or excusive, approach to talent management.
3. Employee engagement: this topic has become a key area of activity in many organizations, especially where there are reported issues of productivity and performance. Reportedly in the UK, an ‘Employee Engagement’ movement is taking place, fuelled by the government backed McLeod investigation. But again the concept of employee engagement is one that is not clearly defined, yet none the less organizations appear to be exerting lots of energy in building an engaged workforce. For this topic, you could explore tensions with the concept and practice of employee engagement in an organization that employs predominantly low-skilled workers, or you could look choose to focus how employee engagement is addressed in a knowledge intensive firm.
4. Management development:The UK has always been perceived in comparison to some of its European partners to have not invested enough in management development. As the UK economy has shifted from a manufacturing based economy to be primarily based in the service and knowledge economies the need for effective management and management development strategies has become more acute. In 2013 an All Party Parliamentary Group with the support of the CMI, BAM and ABS produced a report Management 2020. In particular this reported noted the following challenges: Younger generations will drive new ways of working, Managers will need to be adequately trained, new technology requires better people skills, Globalisation will drive diversity and more cross cultural working, sustainability is key. Your report could evaluate an organisations approach to management development and how it seeks to address these and other challenges.
Your report needs to be submitted in two stages:
Stage 1 (Formative Submission): This is due in Week-7 (2nd November, 14.00), The purpose of this formative submission is to get you engaged in the process of academic research and writing early and give us the opportunity for some early feedback on this. In the past this has helped us identify where students may need additional help with either general study skills, or academic wiring, or English language support. You will get feedback on this submission and an indicative mark. This mark will count for 20% of the final mark for the individual assessment.
The formative submission is 1,200 words (excluding References). This should include:
a) Introduction:this needs to be quite short at this stage, but you need to make it clear what the focus of your report is, and say something about why this topic is worthy of investigation. So you will need to set your chosen topic within a wider macro level context.
You will also need to give a short overview of the case study organization that your full report will be based on. Before you choose you case study organization, you will need to do some background research about the company, drawn from different sources. It is unlikely that you will be able to gather the information that you need from a single source. An over-reliance on a single source is likely to lead to a rather descriptive account.
b) Working draft of your literature review:in this section you will need to define and critique key concepts/theories drawing on a wide range of academic sources, contrasting these with insights gained from more practitioner-focused sources.
The purpose of the literature review section of your report is to draw out what appear to be key theories/models that relate to your chosen topic and what seem to be some of the contemporary debates. This will then provide the critical lens through which to then go on to review the approach adopted in your chosen case study organization in stage 2 (Summative submission). You will need to make sure that your ideas are fully and correctly referenced (both in-text citations and in your full reference list).
Your literature review should not include any details about your chosen case study organization. This type of information is included later in a different section of your full report submission.
Potential case study organizations
Reward Management: Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, John Lewis, Virgin Money, British Gas.
Talent Management: Fujitsu, KPMG, Legal Services Commission, Unisys, Tata Group.
Employee engagement: Standard Chartered Bank, McDonalds, Vodafone, Ernst &Young
Management development: Public sector organisations (NHS, Education), Google, Marks and Spencer
When choosing a case study organization you need to select one where there is information in the public domainabout the company and its HRM practices. You are unlikely to find the information that you need for this section in one source, so you will need to draw together information about the organization and the HRM practice that you are focusing on from multiple sources e.g. text books, journal articles, research reports, professional journals (People Management or Management Today), websites of HR professional institutions (www.cipd.co.uk, www.shrm.irg, www.hrmasia.com, online databases (EBSCO). Avoid relying on information on company websites.
Stage 2: Final Submission: Due in Week-13 (8th January 2016, 3,000 words (excluding References), to cover an extended/revised Literature Review, critical discussion around the chosen area of HRM policy/practice linked to a specific case study organization, and conclusions and recommendations for practice.
Guidance on what to cover in each section
Introduction: you need to set out the strategic importance of the HRM topic that you are focusing on for businesses in general before you go into more detail about the specific organization that you plan to base your full assignment on. So what is the significance of the HRM practice that you are investigating? Why has it emerged as a strategic issue for organizations more generally and for the specific organization that is the basis of your report. What contextual factors have contributed to the strategic significance?
Then provide a short overview of your case study organization. A more in-depth account of your chosen case study should be provided later in section 3.
Literature review: you need to discuss concepts, definitions and issues with the area of HRM that you are focusing on, linking to broader management/organizational behaviour theories. You will need to consider differences in the way that academics and practitioners conceptualise your chosen area of HRM practice – to what extent do these seem aligned? What are some of the key issues/tensionsraised in the literature?
So if you have chosen Talent Management, you would need to consider: how is Talent Management defined in the literature (academic and practitioner literature), is there agreement on what Talent Management is, why the growing interest in Talent Management and what seems to be some of the main criticisms/limitations addressed in the literature.
Discussion of chosen case study organization’s HRM practice:in this section you will need to provide background detail about your case study organization, including some details about the strategic objectives, or specific business issue being faced, before describing the specific approach HRM approach adopted. So for example, if you have chosen Talent Management, you will need to include details about: what does the company’s Talent Management approach consist of; who is involved: what categories of employees are included; how do they evaluate outcomes. Then you can move on to critiquing the organization’s approach, linking back to the literature and/or reference to other examples.
Conclusion and recommendation for future practice: what broader conclusions can be drawn from analysing the gap between theory and practice and thus what broader recommendations might you make with regard to management.
The following assessment criteria will be used to assess your formative submission.
Assessment Criteria 80 – 100% 70 – 79% 60 – 69% 50 – 59% Less than 50%
Introduction – setting assignment topic in a broader context (20%)
Critical Analysis of supporting theory and research (70%)
Presentation, structure and referencing (10%)
You will find below my formative submission, it might help you. My case study is about Waitrose.
Note: in my feedback there were some comments about it not being focus and the lack of recent views on the topic, in addition, there was a comment about my over reliance in Kahn’s work.
International management with HRM
Employee engagement: Waitrose
The concept Employee Engagement (EE) is relatively new, having emerged in the early nineteen nineties by William A. Kahn, the idea took shape as we know it today. Before that, a pre-existing concept was in its place “job satisfaction”.
Employee engagement (EE) surpassed job satisfaction; it has become one of the pillars of modern day human resource management (HRM) it is an essential part in enhancing the performance of employees in an organization (J. Arrowsmith& J. Parker 2013). In essence, EE is the development of a relationship between the employee and the organization, where the employee believes in the values and goals of the organization and is more loyal, passionate, enthusiastic, satisfied and overall more willing to work hard and perform to his/her best, leading to a better attitude, behavior and outcome. The benefits are not limited to the organization, engaged employees are happier, more satisfied and healthier than disengaged employees.(CPID)
Therefore, EE is an excellent method for increasing the productivity and efficiency in an organization, in addition to insuring sustainability of its performance at the highest level possible thus offering a competitive advantage over rivals in the market.
Moreover, research conducted by organizations involving more than five million employees worldwide showed that in 2010 organizations with high engagement levels outperformed the total stock market index. On the other hand, companies with lowengagement levels had a total shareholder return that was significantly lower than the average return in 2010 (The evidence, Bruce R,2012), this goes to show the immense impact of EE on the success and profitability of an organization.
Waitrose is an ideal example of an organization that has implemented the EE model, as part of the John Lewis Partnership, all of Waitrose’s employees are given the title of “Partner”
, co-owners of the business. By making the employees “partners” in the organization, their attitude and behavior isinstantly more positive.
In 1990 William A. Kahn conducted a study on the Psychological status of personal engagement and disengagement at work, he examined the work conditions which contribute to both engagement and disengagement. Since then, EE has gained attention and interest in the field of HRM and many theories and approaches are available.
Employee engagement definition:
There is no accurate definition to EE, each definition of EE varies depending on the perspective and point of view of the academics, experts and researchers of HRM.
Kahn defines EE as “The harnessing of organization members’ selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances.” (Kahn, 1990, p. 694). On the contrary, he defines employee disengagement as: “The uncoupling of selves from work roles; in disengagement, people withdraw and defend themselves physically, cognitively, or emotionally during role performances” (Kahn, 1990, p. 694).
Truss et al (2006) define employee engagement simply as ‘passion for work’, a psychological state which is seen to embrace the three elements of engagement discussed by Kahn.(Kular et al 2008)
ManagementDirect defines EE as: “Employee engagement is about how people behave at work and their emotional and intellectual commitment to their organization and its success. An “engaged employee” is one who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work, and thus will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interests. It incorporates aspects of job satisfaction and motivation, but is more than both. Engagement is about what the employee has to offer. It may be seen as a commitment to the values of the organization and the achievement of its strategic objectives.”
Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter were the first to take over from Kahn’s concept of EE (1990) and significantly develop his theory, in their book Job Burnout, they define EE as “positive scores on the Maslach Burnout Inventory (a scale developed to indicate burnout levels)”.
Whereas Schaufeli defined EE as “a persistent, positive affective-motivational state of fulfillment in employees that is characterized by high levels of activation and pleasure”(Maslach et al., 2001, p. 417).
EEtheory, models and approaches:
According to Kahn, EE means to be present when occupying and performing a role in the organization, on both a psychological and physical level. (Kahn, 1990)
Kahn’s study shows that engagement is encouraged by the following three elements:
• Meaningfulness, described as “the sense of return on investments of self in role performance” (Kahn, 1990, p. 705).
• Safety, which is “the ability to show one’s self without fear or negative consequences to self-image, status, or career” (Kahn, 1990, p. 705).
• Availability, explained as follows: “the sense of possessing the physical, emotional, and psychological resources necessary” (Kahn, 1990, p. 705).
In Kahn’s model, employee’s engagement levels increased in environments that provided more meaningfulness and safety, and when employees were more available psychologically. In Kahn’s (1990) model, May et al. (2004) establish that meaningfulness, safety, and availability were strongly associated to engagement. Furthermore, they establish that job enrichment and role fit had an excellent influence on meaningfulness;rewards and recognitionto employees and supportive supervisor relations were positive indicators of safety while devotion to co-worker standards and self-consciousness had a negative influence; and resources available was a positive indicator of psychological availability while participation in outside activities was a negative predictor. (Saks:2006)(Wollard, K: 2010)
The other model of engagement originates from the burnout theory (Maslach et al., 2001); job burnout is a negative mental state that converts energy, involvement, and productivity to exhaustion, distrust, and ineffectiveness. (Maslach et al., 2001)
Maslach et al (2001) describe EE as the opposite of burnout. By comparing the characteristics of burned out employees and engaged employees they found that they are the opposite of oneanother, which contributed further to understandingEE.
EE is characterized by energy in the work place, involvement in the task in hand, and efficacy in performing, the direct opposite of the three-burnout dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. Moreover, six areas of work-life were found to have a profound effect on burnout and engagement levels: workload, control, rewards and acknowledgment, community and social support, fairness, and values.
EE isdirectly proportional with a sustainable workload, feelings of choice and control, rewards and recognition, a supportive work environment, fairness and justice, and meaningful and valued work.(Saks:2006)
in spite of the fact that both Kahn’s (1990) and Maslach et al.’s (2001) models brought to light the psychological conditions and the factors that are necessary for EE, their models lack the explanation to why would employees respond to these conditions with varying degrees of engagement.(Saks:2006)
Considering all of the above, there is no set of rules or procedures to implementing EE practically; different approaches have been appliedby different organizations, the reason behind it is clear. EE is subject to the employees as much as the organization, in addition to the culture, environment, and other factors in which the organization exists.In my opinion, each organization should build its own approach and customize it based on its own mission, nature of work, and goals, in addition to the feedback of its employees andtaking into account the relevant social, psychological, cultural and economical etc., factors that are Incentive to engaging employees, inside and outside the organization. By constructing this approach, each organization will have the most effective model of EE.
• CIPD Employee engagement, factsheets. Revised December 2014. [Online]. [Accessed 20-10-2015] Available from: http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/factsheets/employee-engagement.aspx
• Bruce Rayton, THE EVIDENCE Employee Engagement Task Force [Accessed on 20-10-2015] available from: http://www.engageforsuccess.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/The-Evidence.pdf
• Employee Engagement – An Overview [Online]. [Accessed 09-10-2015]. Available from:
• Kahn, W. 1990 Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work. Academy of journal management. P: 692-724 [Accessed on 25-10-2015]
• Leiter, M. Maslach, C. Schaufeli, W. 2001 Job Burnout. P: 398-420. [Accessed on 25-10-2015] Available from: http://www.wilmarschaufeli.nl/publications/Schaufeli/154.pdf
• Sandeep Kular, Mark Gatenby, Chris Rees, Emma Soane, Katie Truss Employee Engagement: A Literature Review [Accessed on 23-10-2015] available online at: http://business.kingston.ac.uk/sites/default/files/6_rp_emplyengag.pdf
• J. Arrowsmitha* & J. Parkera, The meaning of ‘employee engagement’ for the values and roles of the HRM function. P 2692-2712 [Accessed on 22-10-2015]
• Saks, A. 2006 Antecedents and consequences of employee engagement. Journal of Managerial Psychology. P: 600-619 [Accessed on 26-10-2015]
• Shuck, B. Wollard, K. 2010. Employee Engagement and HRD: A Seminal Review of the Foundations. SAGE. P: 90-110 [Accessed on 14-10-2015]