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The HR function in Australia : supports and barriers to strategic HRM integration
thesisposted on 2023-05-27, 17:09 authored by Sheehan, C
The transition from personnel management to Human Resource Management (HRM) has activated considerable discussion and debate within the academic literature about the strategic positioning of, and responsibility for, HRM activity (Beer, 1997; Dyer & Holder, 1988; Guest 1987; 1989). Specifically, effective HRM integration involves active HR representation in strategic decision-making processes, HR policies that cohere and the acceptance of HRM responsibilities by line managers and employees as part of their everyday life (Schuler, 1992). Despite the evidence that there has been some shift towards this goal, there is good reason to believe that the HR function is yet to make the full transition from administrator to strategic partner (Johnson, 2000; Kochan & Dyer, 2001; Storey, 2001;). In an environment where core competencies and competitive advantage are being increasingly linked to effective HRM activity (Boxall & Purcell, 2000), it is critical that barriers to the full realisation of HRM integration be understood and investigated. The two broad aims of this thesis are to analyse the status, and processes underlying, strategic HRM integration in Australian organisations and to contribute to the theory development in strategic human resource management (SHRM). First, the analysis of strategic HRM integration involved an initial large-scale survey of the membership of the Australian Human Resource Institute (AHRI). The results of the survey revealed that senior HR managers were supportive of strategic FIRM initiatives. Using a more qualitative approach, follow-up in-depth interviews with senior HR, finance and line managers in 13 case organisations helped to clarify the variables that impact on the success or otherwise of FIRM integration. Results revealed that although it may be important that senior HR managers agree with strategic FIRM initiatives and that organisational structures are put in place to facilitate strategic HRM integration, unless there are deeper shifts in levels of strategic HRM commitment by HR managers and other senior business executives, the transition to strategic HRM integration may not be successful. The second broad aim of the thesis, theory development, draws from the thesis results. Using ideas from the change literature, a model is developed of the proposed influences on strategic HRM integration. The argument supporting the model is that the decision to implement a strategic FIRM approach requires a certain set of symbolic gestures and ritualistic changes. These symbolic changes, however, do not always necessarily result in desired outcomes: symbolic adjustments must be accompanied by deeper levels of change. The research holds a number of practical implications for HR professionals and senior business executives.