Designing a Human Resource Management Simulation to Engage Students

[Professors Andrea North-Samardzic of Deakin University Victoria and Marlize de Witt of the University of Waikato recently published a research article in the Journal of Management Education which is entitled “Designing a Human Resource Management Simulation to Engage Students“. We are delighted to welcome them as contributors, and their article will be free to read for a limited time. Below they reveal the inspirations and influences behind their research.]

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

I wanted to use a simulation in my classes but couldn’t find one that fit my needs as well as being proven to lead to positive student outcomes. So in the grand tradition of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ I created one myself.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

I thought that the students who navigated the software in the simulation program would find it more engaging. But the findings showed that we have tremendous capacity to create new and interesting simulations in traditional learning management systems. You don’t always need new and shiny technology to engage students.

The biggest challenge was finding students to participate in the lab tests and focus group. We can’t provide credit to students for research participation.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

The roadmap we provide for designing, developing and testing the simulation will hopefully inspire others to create their own simulations. Buying software licenses can be expensive. So why not create your own and test it to show how and why it works?

What did not make it into your published manuscript that you would like to share with us?

There was a lot more attention to design science in the earlier drafts. I was a bit too hung up on this and it took awhile for my co-author to convince me to let it go. Kathi Lovelace was also an incredible editor and helped us with really refining the contribution too and advising us on what to play down and what to emphasise.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

Make sure you share your work with others in development stages and rewrites no matter how rough the drafts or embryonic the ideas. If things get stuck, you may like to bring on another person as a co-author. I tried to publish the work as a sole author but it didn’t quite hit the mark. Working with Marlize to rewrite and reposition the paper made the world of difference.

Also it took a long time to bring this article to publication. That’s ok. Hang in there. Scholarship is a marathon, not a sprint.

What is the most important/ influential piece of scholarship you’ve read in the last year?

Kathy Lund Dean and Jeanie M. Forray’s editorial ‘Teaching and Learning in an Age of (In)credulity: Facts and “Alternative Facts” in the Classroom’ really spoke to me even though they said some things I didn’t necessarily want to hear at first. It has lead me to do a lot of critical self-reflection about my role as educator and ‘expert’ in the room and how I need to adapt to better address current concerns. For me, a great piece of scholarship not only makes you think about the topic but makes you think about yourself.

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HRM and Small-Firm Employee Motivation – Before and After the Great Recession

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Alex Bryson of the University College London and Dr. Michael White Emeritus Fellow at Universty of Westminster.  They recently published an article in the ILR Review entitledHRM and small-firm employee motivation – before and after the Great Recession,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Bryson reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

Controversy surrounds the role of high-performance, or high-involvement, management practices in small firms. Many believe these practices only ‘deliver’ in larger firms. So we wanted to see whether this was the case by looking at links between the intensity of what we term ‘human resource management practices’ and job attitudes among employees in small firms.

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

The additional motivation was to establish whether hypothesised links between HRM in small firms and employee job attitudes would differ pre- and post-recession, as some have suggested. So we produce estimates pre- and post-recession.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

The most challenging aspect was replicating similar data sets for 2004 and 2011 given changes in the design of the survey we were using. The surprising result is that findings generally replicate those for larger firms.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

It is innovative because nobody has examined the links between HRM intensity and job attitudes among employees in small firms using large-scale linked employer-employee data.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

Think hard about motivating your analyses based on sound theory and then search or construct good empirical data to test your hypotheses.

 

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Management Practices: Complementarity is the Key

[We’re pleased to welcome Arthur Grimes of Motu Economic and Policy Research and University 16296308759_8149d18c99_zof Auckland. Arthur recently published an article in ILR Review entitled “The ‘Suite’ Smell of Success: Personnel Practices and Firm Performance” with co-author Richard Fabling of Motu Economic and Policy Research.]

Throughout the world, we see firms in the same industry in the same country having very different productivity outcomes. We have long been fascinated in why this is the case, and whether management can do anything to place their firm in the top quartile of performers within their industry.

It turns out that management practices are key to firms’ productivity outcomes. But the key is not a simplistic application of performance pay or any other single management practice to the firm; a holistic approach is required. Recent analysis ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointbased on longitudinal data for New Zealand firms across all sectors of the economy, shows that having in place a suite of complementary high-performance management practices can raise productivity by over 10% for firms that are in the top quartile of management practices. This is the case for firms in manufacturing, services and other sectors. The suite of management practices includes having processes for staff consultation, clear firm values, performance reviews coupled with performance pay, room for autonomous staff decision-making and staff training opportunities.  What this means for firms is that there are no ‘magic-bullet’ management practices that can be introduced quickly to transform most firms. Management need to introduce a comprehensive suite of management practices if they wish to raise their productivity to be in the top rung of firms.

The abstract from the paper:

The authors use a panel of more than 1,500 New Zealand firms, from a diverse range of industries, to examine how the adoption of human resource management (HRM) practices affects firm performance. The panel is based on managerial responses to mandatory surveys of management practices in 2001 and 2005 administered by the national statistical office, linked to objective longitudinal firm performance data. The authors find that, after controlling for time-invariant firm characteristics and changes in a wide range of business practices and firm developments, a suite of general HRM practices has a positive impact on firm labor and multifactor productivity. Conversely, these practices tend to have no effect on profitability, in part because the adoption of performance pay systems raises average wages in the firm.

You can read “The ‘Suite’ Smell of Success: Personnel Practices and Firm Performance” from ILR Review free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from ILR ReviewClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Meeting image credited to Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken (CC)

Book Review: Voice and Involvement at Work: Experience with Non-Union Representation

Voice and Involvement at Work Book Cover

Voice and Involvement at Work: Experience with Non-Union Representation. Edited by Paul J. Gollan, Bruce E. Kaufman, Daphne Taras, Adrian Wilkinson . New York and Oxford: Routledge, 2015. 420 pp. ISBN 978-0-415-53721-6, $135 (Cloth).

Rafael Gomez of University of Toronto recently took the time to review the book in the October Issue of ILR Review, which you can find here. From the review:

The editors spend a considerable amount of time in the introductory chapter not just laying out the structure of the book and offering a redacted synopsis for the time-constrained reviewer, but in really fleshing out where NER [non-union employee representation] sits in relation to the human resource management (HRM), economics, and industrial relations literatures. This chapter also offers arguably one of the strongest defenses of why we should be interested in NER and for abandoning many preconceived notions of what NER does. For too long, as the editors note, employee representation schemes that were either mandated (much work has existed on the rise of statutory works councils, for example) or set up by an employer were deemed to be of second order significance and/or lacked legitimacy in some quarters of the IR discipline. Likewise in the HRM literature, an ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointoverriding concern was on the bottom-line impact of such schemes and how they linked up to the broader high-performance paradigm. The editors quite rightly point to the real intrinsic value of providing voice to workers (free from any associated efficiency benefits) and how workplaces should still be viewed, by implication, as the crucibles of industrial democracy. The other perspective of course that is given short shrift by the editors is the view held among many traditional labor studies scholars that NER is everywhere and always a trade union substitute. This is indeed one of the motives behind some employer NER designs—the editors acknowledge as much—but equal precedence can be found for seeing NER systems as platforms for employee engagement and eventual trade union representation.

You can read the rest of the review from ILR Review for free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Like what you read? Click here to sign up for e-alerts and have all the latest research and reviews like this sent directly to your inbox!

Fostering Shared Leadership in Teams

JLOS_72ppiRGB_powerpoint[We’re pleased to welcome Amelie Grille of Braunschweig University of Technology. Dr. Grille recently published an article with Eva-Maria Schulte and Simone Kauffeld, also of Braunschweig University of Technology, in Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies entitled “Promoting Shared Leadership: A Multilevel Analysis Investigating the Role of Prototypical Team Leader Behavior, Psychological Empowerment, and Fair Rewards.”]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

Ample empirical evidence exists that shared leadership is able to increase team performance. We were interested in exploring how shared leadership in teams can be facilitated in order to provide practitioners wishing to advance team performance with information about how to foster shared leadership in their teams. So our research was stimulated by the aim to help practitioners to make use of a concept that has previously been proven to be successful in recent research findings.

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

We were surprised to find that traditional forms of leadership, that is, leadership through one leading individual, could foster shared leadership behaviors within the team but that this only happened under certain circumstances: Only as long as team members felt that their leader was representative of the team in terms of representing the team’s values and characteristics, they engaged in the same leadership behavior as their leader. As expected, shared leadership could further be fostered through empowering and rewarding team members.

  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

The results from our study indicate that empowering and rewarding individuals can help to foster shared leadership in teams. In addition, our results indicate that the role of formally appointed leaders may swift away from being responsible for actually leading the team more towards taking a coaching role demonstrating important leadership behaviors which can hence be picked up by team members. Meanwhile, our findings also point towards the importance that those team leaders should be aware of representing and living up to those values and characteristics their team members identify with in order to facilitate learning processes.

One direction for future research is to explore at what stage of team development individuals with a formal leading role are particularly influential and important for facilitating shared leadership within the team. This would help to understand when team leaders should particularly be conscious of their role as models for team members and should be encouraged to focus on spending their time with the team to reflect on effective leadership behaviors.

You can read “Promoting Shared Leadership: A Multilevel Analysis Investigating the Role of Prototypical Team Leader Behavior, Psychological Empowerment, and Fair Rewards” for free in Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research like this from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!


grilleAmelie Grille is a research associate at the Department of Industrial/Organizational and Social Psychology, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany. Her research interests include teamwork, leadership and the development and evaluation of human resource practices.

eva mariaEva-Maria Schulte is a research associate at the Department of Industrial/Organizational and Social Psychology, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany. In her research she particularly focusses on teamwork (i.e., processes taking place in team meetings and team leadership), employee wellbeing and coaching.

kauffeldSimone Kauffeld is a full professor for Industrial/Organizational and Social Psychology and vice-president for teaching, studies and further education at Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany. She also owns the business consultancy 4A-SIDE GmbH which belongs to the university. Her main research foci are team interaction, competence management and development, coaching, and leadership. In cooperation with medium and large sized companies she has conducted multiple studies on these topics.

Throwback Thursday: How HR Impacts Organizational Performance

[In honor of #ThrowbackThursday, we’re pleased to bring you one of our most read posts on Human Resource Development Review‘s article “HRD and HRM Perspectives on Organizational Performance: A Review of Literature.”]

 Victor1558 (cc)

Victor1558 (cc)

Managers rely upon HR departments for services such as recruitment, payroll, and employee relations, but experts have found that HR plays a much more significant role in organizations. To explore this role, Meera Alagaraja of the University of Louisville published HRD and HRM Perspectives on Organizational Performance: A Review of Literature in the Human Resource Development Review June 2013 issue:

HRDR_72ppiRGB_150pixWA systematic review of literature on the relationship of human resources (HR) and organizational performance (OP) revealed a dearth of contribution from human resource development (HRD) in establishing the linkage. This linkage, which refers to the significant relationship between HRD and OP, is an important topic relevant to research and practice. The review utilized OP as the dependent variable to survey the state of human resource literature and thus, includes contributions from human resource management (HRM). The literature review revealed similarities and differences in the conceptualization of OP as a dependent variable between the two fields. On further analysis, the similarities and differences reveal convergence in specific areas of inquiry as well as emphasize the underlying differences in the philosophical assumptions of HRD and HRM. The independent contributions of HRD and HRM in establishing the HR–OP linkage also reflect the utilization of diverse research designs, methods of data collection, analysis, and findings. Both fields have focused on strategic contributions for improving organizational performance and are very much connected in practice. Much of the separation therefore, appears to be academic where competing views highlight a tension that exists in theory, research and what we know about effective HRD or HRM in practice.

Continue reading the article here, and get e-alerts about the latest research published in Human Resource Development Review.

Ashly H. Pinnington on Competence Regimes in Professional Organizations

[We’re pleased to welcome Ashly H. Pinnington of the British University in Dubai. Dr. Pinnington and Jörgen Sandberg of UQ Business School at the University of Queensland recently published “Competence Regimes in Professional Service Firm Internationalization and Professional Careers” in Group and Organization Management.]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

I developed an interest in professional’s careers when studying different promotion systems in law firms (e.g., Morris & Pinnington, Human Relations, 1998). The GOM 39(6)_Covers.inddinterpretive approach adopted by my co-author, Jörgen Sandberg, examining the management of competence in Volvo (Sandberg, Academy of Management Journal, 2000), seemed promising for examining how professionals, such as lawyers, understand their professional work and their careers. Moving from living in the UK to Australia, I was struck by the very different ways that senior lawyers described their firms’ business plans and sense of commercial opportunities in relation to the internationalization of business. Therefore, I felt it would be interesting to examine a group of high performing lawyers’ understanding of their competence in their professional work and their views on how the firm manages them and seeks to gain their commitment to organizational strategies, particularly the internationalization of business.

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

On reflection, I am surprised by the areas of commonality in the findings in this study and my co-author’s highly cited AMJ (2000) paper. The two studies both reveal a higher proportion of the longer tenured group of professional workers having more sophisticated and integrated approaches to competence. The findings in both studies reveal a hierarchy of competence, where the higher levels subsume the lower levels. I was also surprised that we could not identify more unique and distinctive approaches relating to business knowledge and skills in the area of international legal work. These commercial approaches appear to be directly associated with professional work identities.

  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

I hope that our study encourages researchers to design research which successfully reveals more instances of discontinuity and dissimilarity in professional self-understanding and commercial competence. I anticipate that this study will contribute to others which theorize and evaluate ways that the professional institutes and associations have had a number of their roles in career induction, training and development supplanted by the global field of competing professional organizations. Also, it may encourage other researchers and practitioners to think more insightfully into ways that competing organizations contribute positively to the collective group of professionals and their competences.

You can read “Competence Regimes in Professional Service Firm Internationalization and Professional Careers” from Group and Organization Management for free by clicking here. Want to keep up on all the latest research from Group and Organization Management? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

ashlyAshly H. Pinnington is a Professor of Human Resource Management and Dean – Faculty of Business at the British University in Dubai. Pinnington received his PhD in Management from Brunel University in 1991. His current research interests include Professional Service Firms, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Ethics and HRM.

jorgen-sandbergJörgen Sandberg is Professor in Management and Organisation at UQ Business School, The University of Queensland, Australia. Sandberg received his PhD in 1994 from Gothenburg School of Economics, Sweden. His research interests include competence and learning in organizations, leadership, practice-based research, qualitative research methods and philosophy of science.