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Human Resource Mangemnet


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Human Resource Mangemnet

  1. 1. Journal of Management Human Resources Management: Some New Directions Gerald R. Ferris, Wayne A. Hochwarter, M. Ronald Buckley, Gloria Harrell-Cook and Dwight D. Frink Journal of Management 1999; 25; 385 DOI: 10.1177/014920639902500306 The online version of this article can be found at: Published by: On behalf of: Southern Management Association Additional services and information for Journal of Management can be found at: Email Alerts: Subscriptions: Reprints: Permissions: Citations (this article cites 75 articles hosted on the SAGE Journals Online and HighWire Press platforms): Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  2. 2. Journal of Management 1999, Vol. 25, No. 3, 385– 415 Human Resources Management: Some New Directions Gerald R. Ferris University of Mississippi Wayne A. Hochwarter University of Alabama M. Ronald Buckley University of Oklahoma Gloria Harrell-Cook Mississippi State University Dwight D. Frink University of Mississippi The theory, research, and practice of Human Resource Manage- ment (HRM) has evolved considerably over the past century, and experienced a major transformation in form and function primarily within the past two decades. Driven by a number of significant internal and external environmental forces, HRM has progressed from a largely maintenance function, with little if any bottom line impact, to what many scholars and practitioners today regard as the source of sustained competitive advantage for organizations operating in a global economy. In this 25th anniversary Yearly Review issue, we conduct a less com- prehensive and more focused review of the field of HRM. In doing so, we attempt to articulate some key concepts and issues that can be produc- tively integrated with HRM to provide some interesting and important directions for future work, and consider ways to bridge the gap between the science and practice of HRM. © 1999 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved. This 1999 Yearly Review marks the 25th anniversary of the Journal of Management, and indeed, over this quarter century, the organizational sciences have witnessed an evolution of this journal from start-up phase to its present status as one of the well-respected publications in the field. It is on this auspicious occasion that we take the opportunity to review the evolution, developments, and directions in the field of Human Resource Management (HRM). If we target the Direct all correspondence to: Gerald R. Ferris, School of Business Administration, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677. Copyright © 1999 by Elsevier Science Inc. 0149-2063 385 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  3. 3. 386 HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT year 1920 as when many believe the first formal HRM function and department was initiated, then the field is nearly 80 years old. During this 80-year period, there have been considerable changes in both the science and practice of HRM. We wish to accomplish several objectives in this review. First, because more comprehensive, traditional reviews of the field have been published elsewhere in recent years, we do not wish to simply duplicate these. Instead we attempt to provide a more focused analysis of the field, articulating key directions for future work. Relying largely upon major reviews, including previous Yearly Review articles, we extract key areas of inquiry and use these as organizing mechanisms for closer examination in subsequent sections, focusing on the current status of work in each of these critical areas. Next, we articulate several important concepts and issues in the organizational sciences that have interesting integrative potential with HRM to produce innovative and insightful streams of research. Some of these have already been suggested and are underway, whereas others are newer ideas, but all could profit from more extensive development. Finally, we provide a wrap-up and some final thoughts on the present and future nature of the science and practice of HRM. Evolution of Theory, Research, and Practice The Human Resource Management (HRM) function, once responsible for record-keeping and maintenance, has evolved into a strategic partner, sharing comparable boardroom status with disciplines such as accounting, marketing, and finance (Dulebohn, Ferris, & Stodd, 1995). Despite the fact that alternative perspectives regarding the limited contribution of HRM have been suggested (Stewart, 1996a, 1996b), a positive relationship between the development of HRM as a strategic ally and company performance has been shown (Huselid, 1995; Huselid, Jackson, & Schuler, 1997; Plevel, Lane, Schuler, & Nellis, 1995; Schuler & Jackson, 1987). In line with practice has been HRM research that has grown from its largely atheoretical origins to view organizational activities from an interdisciplinary perspective (Jennings, 1994; Wright & McMahan, 1992), concerned with a progression toward methodological and theoretical development (Ferris & Judge, 1991). Significant reviews of the literature chronicle both the development of the HRM function, as well as the evolution of research designed to explain this phenomenon (Fisher, 1989; Jackson & Schuler, 1995; Mahoney & Deckop, 1986; Snell, Youndt, & Wright, 1996). Recently, the study of HRM has adopted a cross-functional approach that has expanded its breadth of analysis beyond the functional tasks of selection, training, compensation, and performance appraisal. One line of research, the strategic human resource management (SHRM) perspective, attempts to align HRM func- tions and activities with the overarching strategic goals of the organization (Butler, Ferris, & Napier, 1991). The international perspective acknowledges the importance of the global economy, as well as emphasizes the value of designing HR activities that address cross-cultural concerns (Napier, Tibau, Janssens, & Pilenzo, 1995). Finally, the political view assumes that unwritten, informal activities may have consequential effects on the design and implementation of JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  4. 4. G.R. FERRIS ET AL. 387 HRM programs (Pfeffer, 1989). Whereas each of these programs of research is important and distinct in its own regard, they share a common characteristic. Namely, research in these areas is relatively new and has historically not had the benefit of a richly developed theoretical base to build upon. However, this trend appears to be changing as researchers have arduously developed conceptual models of HRM that have moved research away from its atheoretical origins. In this section, we reexamine the comprehensive reviews of the HRM literature that have been published, with greater emphasis on those that have surfaced over the last 15 years. A survey of all reviews, as well as an inspection of all major directions of HRM research that have occurred over this time frame, extends beyond the scope of this article. Rather, the focus of the current review is to limit our discussion to major trends that have helped shape current modes of thinking in the substantive areas that are discussed more fully in the remaining sections of this review. Specifically, the paper unfolds as follows. First, we briefly review research that provided the groundwork for contemporary studies in the areas of strategic HRM, international HRM, and political influences on HRM, which appear to be the three dominant perspectives that theory and research in HRM have taken in the past 15 years. Second, we examine more current reviews that have addressed these important topics (Ferris & Judge, 1991; Fisher, 1989; Jackson & Schuler, 1995; Mahoney & Deckop, 1986; Wright & McMahan, 1992). Finally, we provide a discussion of the “state-of-the-art” research that has ex- tended the body of literature in these substantive areas. Included in this final discussion are prescriptions for integrating interdisciplinary work into future research and suggestions for moving the science and practice of HRM into the next millenium. Excellent reviews of theory and research on specific HRM practices (e.g., selection, performance appraisal, etc.) have been published in recent years in the volumes of the Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the Annual Review of Psychology, the Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management series, and other outlets. We see no reason to duplicate those reviews here. Instead, we take a more focused approach on particular issues and themes in HRM that have emerged in recent years, and which we feel can lead the field in productive directions. Theoretical Foundations Most of the early reviews of the literature were published by notable industrial psychologists, such as Shartle (1950), Brown and Ghiselli (1952), and Harrell (1953). As a consequence, these reviews tended to emphasize applied individual-level issues, such as employee testing, training, and motivation. How- ever, even at these early stages of development, precursors of what many consider significant contemporary trends in the HRM domain were defined. For example, Gilmer’s (1960) discussion of situational variables explicated the importance of matching personnel strategies with organizational strategies. Further, Gilmer (1960) invited researchers to design measures to assess the relationship between “individual personalities” and “company personalities” (p. 337). These contribu- tions, as well as those provided by organizational theorists some years later (e.g., JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  5. 5. 388 HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT Barney, 1991; Katz & Kahn, 1978; Miles & Snow, 1978), laid the theoretical foundation for the macro-level HRM (i.e., strategic human resource management) research that has proliferated in much of the current literature (Huselid, 1995; Wright & McMahan, 1992). This era also brought into focus country-level differences with respect to the development of HRM. For example, Ferguson (1961) reviewed the expansion of HRM activities in the United States, while Farmer (1958) traced the growth of practice in England. Further, Harrell (1953) suggested that the political atmo- sphere of the country in which an organization resides significantly impacted both research and practice during the early years of the field. Although these reviews were not comparative in nature, they did illustrate that different regions of the world are more (or less) concerned with some HRM activities than others. Moreover, these early reviews provided scholars a point of reference when conducting research assessing cultural implications of HRM (MacDuffie & Kraf- cik, 1992; Mendonca & Kanungo, 1994). Related to current research assessing the impact of organizational politics on HRM, Gellerman (1959) outlined the steps necessary to identify influential individuals and made suggestions regarding the tactics used to persuade others. Moreover, researchers acknowledged the value of understanding the “informal” as well as “formal” elements of organizations (Cicourel, 1958). Later, Mintzberg (1983) described politics as “individual or group behavior that is informal, ostensibly parochial, typically divisive, and above all, in the technical sense, illegitimate—sanctioned neither by formal authority, accepted ideology, nor cer- tified expertise. . . ” (p. 172). Clearly, strategic, international, and political perspectives of HRM represent three of the most significant areas of practical and theoretical concern on which theory and research in HRM has focused in the past decade and a half. As such, comprehensive reviews of the HRM literature have focused a great deal of attention surveying the existing body of literature, as well as prescribing mech- anisms for extending research in these important areas. In the following sections, research published subsequent to these prior reviews is examined, and future research directions are offered that may help the field grow even more briskly than it has in the past. Strategic Perspective on Human Resources Management Over the past 10 or 15 years, numerous theoreticians have argued that the human resources of the firm are potentially the sole source of sustainable com- petitive advantage for organizations (e.g., Dyer, 1993; Pfeffer, 1994; Snell et al., 1996; Wright & McMahan, 1992). These works have drawn on the resource based view of the firm (Barney, 1991, 1995) and have argued that few of the more traditional sources of sustainable competitive advantage (e.g., technology, access to financial resources) create value in a manner that is rare, nonimitable, and nonsubstituable. The nuances of the human resource value creation process, however, are extremely difficult, if not impossible for competitors to imitate, as they are path dependent and causally ambiguous. That is, the complexities created through the social and historical embeddedness of the human resource value JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  6. 6. G.R. FERRIS ET AL. 389 creation process cannot be reverse engineered or easily teased out. This value creation process does meet the criteria for a source of sustainable competitive advantage as set forth by the resource based view of the firm. This argument justifiably focused academic attention on the competitive imperative to strategi- cally manage the human resources of the firm. Consequently, a field of inquiry began to emerge that actually billed itself as research in strategic human resource management (SHRM). Whereas numerous studies in this area have provided substantial empirical and theoretical contribu- tions to the field of HRM, this area of investigation is still in its infancy, with scholars only recently trying to reach some common theoretical and empirical ground on which to build. Perhaps never before has Mahoney and Deckop’s (1986) commentary on the fragmented nature of HRM research been more applicable than to this area of work. Whereas the entire area of exploration is deemed to be strategic in nature, the meaning of “strategic” takes on various definitions in the literature. For instance (and addressed at more length in following paragraphs), some researchers have focused merely on the relationship of various human resource practices and systems to firm performance and have labeled this relationship as strategic in the sense that it is extremely important to the organization’s objectives of profitability and viability. On the other hand, some research has delved into examinations of “fit” of various human resource practices and systems with the organization’s competitive strategy—a quite different notion of “strategic” conceptually. It comes as no surprise, then, that there is little coherence among empirical results in the field. Chadwick and Cappelli (1999) articulate both the current state of affairs in SHRM research, and the potential reasons for the lack of consensus reflected in empirical work in this area. They argue that all current approaches to SHRM research are strategic in the sense that they focus on the relationship between sets or systems of HRM practices and policies, and organizational outcomes. This awareness contrasts earlier research that was concerned primarily with individual HRM practices and their contributions to variance explained in some organiza- tional level outcome. Chadwick and Cappelli maintain, however, that researchers have different goals with regard to their particular research in SHRM, and consequently there is considerable variance in the operationalization of the term “strategic.” Three approaches to SHRM research are examined. The first stream of research is strategic in the sense that it is concerned simply with the contribution of HRM to the financial performance of the firm. Chadwick and Cappelli (1999) speculate that this body of work is deemed strategic because it examines a chief strategic concern of organizations (i.e., the bottom line). A second approach to SHRM is concerned with organizations’ strategic choices in managing their competitive environments, and the manner in which these choices are reflected in the firms’ HRM systems. The third approach identified by the authors investigates the degree of “fit” between organizational strategy and the sets of HRM practices and policies of the firm. In these studies, it is assumed that “external fit” (i.e., fit with strategy) and “internal fit” (i.e., consistencies and synergies among practices) have an impact on organizational JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  7. 7. 390 HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT outcomes. Consequently, these studies examine the degree to which sets of HRM practices and policies are congruent with those deemed to be most appropriate for their strategic type. Given these different approaches to SHRM, it is evident that a more consolidated field of investigation would be beneficial to the development of knowledge in this area. Despite shortcomings, however, investigations to date have shown SHRM to be an intriguing and abundantly fruitful area for research. Huselid’s (1995) work reflects what has come to be known as the “univer- salistic” approach to SHRM, and it is indicative of the first approach outlined in the Chadwick and Cappelli (1999) categorization. This perspective assumes that there are certain “best” HRM practices that will contribute to increased financial performance, regardless of the strategic goals of the firm. Whereas other scholars have concurred with this assumption (e.g., Delaney, Lewin, & Ichniowski, 1989; Osterman, 1994; Pfeffer, 1994), there has been little work that provides a definitive prescription as to which HRM practices should be included in a “best” practices system. Delaney et al. (1989), for example, utilized 10 practices that related to selection, performance appraisal, incentive compensation, job design, grievance procedures, information sharing, attitude assessment, and labor-man- agement participation. Huselid (1995) added three additional practices to the list: recruiting intensity, average training hours per year, and the criteria for promo- tion. Pfeffer (1994), however, advocated the use of 16 management practices to achieve higher productivity and profits. In recent work, Delery and Doty (1996) identified seven practices consis- tently considered to be “strategic” in nature. Practices identified were internal career opportunities, formal training systems, appraisal measures, profit sharing, employment security, voice mechanisms, and job definition. These practices were utilized in several analyses to test the soundness of the three dominant theoretical perspectives in the HRM-firm performance literature: the universalistic, contin- gency, and configurational perspectives. Results of the analyses provided some support for each of the three perspectives. A number of theoreticians and researchers, however, have argued that a contingency perspective is the more appropriate approach to SHRM (e.g., Butler et al., 1991; Dyer, 1985; Dyer & Holder, 1988; Dyer & Reeves, 1995; Lengnick- Hall & Lengnick-Hall, 1988; Milkovich, 1988; Schuler, 1989; Jackson & Schuler, 1995). The contingency approach differs from the universalistic perspective in that the studies have attempted to link HRM systems and the complementarity of variations of HRM practices to specific organizational strategies (e.g., Arthur, 1994; Youndt, Snell, Dean, & Lepak, 1996). Schuler (Schuler, 1989; Schuler & Jackson, 1987) argued that HRM practices which are not synergistic and consis- tent with organizational strategy, and which conflict (i.e., with regard to intended outcomes) with other HRM practices are confounding in effect, and create ambiguity that can inhibit both individual and organizational performance. A closely related body of work calls for a configurational approach to SHRM, and argues that it is the pattern of HRM practices that contribute to the attainment of organizational goals (Wright & McMahan, 1992). Similar to the contingency approach, the configurational approach argues that fit of HRM practices with organizational strategy is a vital factor in the HRM-firm perfor- JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  8. 8. G.R. FERRIS ET AL. 391 mance relationship. However, the configurational approach takes this argument a step further in asserting that there are specific “ideal types” of HRM systems that provide both horizontal and vertical fit of HRM practices to organizational structure and strategic goals. More specifically, there are certain, specific systems of HRM practices that result in the highest internal consistency and complemen- tarity (horizontal fit), as well as congruence with organizational goals (vertical fit). The configuration of practices that provides the tightest horizontal and vertical fit with any given strategy, then, would be the ideal type for an organization pursuing that particular strategy (Delery & Doty, 1996). Contingency theorists, generally, have not gone so far as to prescribe these ideal types. All approaches are plagued by many of the same limitations. As noted in previous work (e.g., Becker & Gerhart, 1996; Chadwick & Cappelli, 1999; Dyer & Reeves, 1995), there is little consensus among researchers with regard to precisely which HRM practices should be included. Is there a single “ideal type” of HRM system that is universally effective, or does it depend on the strategy of the firm? Further, if the match of the HRM system to strategy does indeed matter, what HRM practice bundles are appropriate for achieving fit to the various strategies investigated (Wright & Sherman, 1999)? There are glaring discrepan- cies in the prescriptions made by different scholars in this area. Becker and Gerhart (1996) pointed to internal promotion systems and formal grievance procedures as examples of this inconsistency. Some studies have regarded these HRM practices as “best” or “high performance” practices, whereas others have noted the association of these practices with unionization, and have categorized them as components of bureaucratic HRM systems (Wright & Sherman, 1999). A related area that remains relatively uninvestigated is whether environmen- tal and contextual factors constrain the availability or suitability of HRM system content, and how the effects of these constraints play out at the individual and organizational levels. Jackson and Schuler (1995) suggested that variations in contextual factors act as constraints on (or enhancements of) the system of HRM practices that may be available or appropriate for implementation in any given organization. They argued that HRM systems may be contingent upon, and directed by, these contextual factors. More specifically, whereas most of the previous research in the HRM area has focused on “high performance practices” or “best practices” as the generic solution to HRM issues, they suggested that this may not be the case. Certain practices and groups of practices may be more or less effective in the attainment of both individual and organizational outcomes in varying contexts. Further, the implementation of some practices may be totally infeasible given the existence of contextual constraints. Organizational structure and culture, for instance, may pose such constraints. If the structure of the organization is highly hierarchical with an accompanying bureaucratic culture, it is unlikely that partic- ipative management could be successfully implemented without significant changes in that structure and culture. Not only is such a structure not conducive to the effectiveness and success of a participative management program, but lines of authority and chains of command might also inhibit the acceptance of such a practice by both labor and management. The potential for contextual constraints JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  9. 9. 392 HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT on the composition of HRM systems poses interesting questions for future research. Another troublesome area in SHRM research concerns the measures of strategy used in the studies to date. Whereas inconsistencies in operationalization of HRM systems contribute to the lack of congruity across studies, differences in the measures of strategy used may also account for the lack of consensus in results. Recent conceptual pieces have been critical of researchers in this area, suggesting that they have incorporated antiquated notions of firm strategy (e.g., Chadwick & Cappelli, 1999; Wright & Sherman, 1999; Wright & Snell, 1998). Most studies have utilized such typologies as those of Porter (1980) or Miles and Snow (1978). These generic categorizations have little in common with the realities of the modern competitive environment with which organizations are confronted. First, categorizations are exclusive, assuming that organizations pur- sue a certain strategic goal while ignoring other strategic concerns. Second, they depict the competitive environment, and consequently organizational strategy, as being static instead of dynamic. There is much evidence that neither of these two assumptions is valid. These typologies assume a specific and narrow strategic positioning of the organization. Whereas organizations may concentrate, to some lesser or greater extent, on any of these particular strategies, there is anecdotal and empirical evidence that many factors are strategic considerations in modern organizations (e.g., DeMeyer, Nakane, Miller, & Ferdows, 1989; Harper, 1992). Results of examinations as- suming such a restricted view of strategy are necessarily limited. As suggested by Chadwick and Cappelli (1999), future tests of the HRM-strategy relationship might be better served by considering strategy to be along a continuum, involving a number of strategic factors that are seen by the organization to be more or less important as competitive priorities. Research of this nature might provide further insight into the lack of consensus among results that currently exists in the literature. The assumption of a static competitive environment, and consequently a static organizational strategy is also an issue that is being increasingly questioned. There is evidence that very few firms operate in static, stable environments. Instead, firms are faced with multiple competitive pressures to which they must respond, and these pressures change rapidly, requiring continual adaptation if an organization is to remain viable. The fact that organizational environments are dynamic has evoked much speculation about the prescription for tight fit of HRM systems with any particular strategic goal. Chadwick and Cappelli (1999) pointed out the dysfunctionality of external fit in arguing that as fit to external conditions becomes closer or tighter, this can become more problematic as competition changes. Embedded systems and structures are difficult to change under any circumstances, and the greater the intermeshing or fit of such systems, the more entrenched they become, and the more difficult they are to modify. Increasingly, the field of SHRM is recognizing this need for organizational flexibility, through “flexible HRM systems” or “flexibility-enhancing” HRM systems (Harrell-Cook, 1999), and this appears to be an area in need of further research and development. Wright and Snell (1998) noted that fit and flexibility JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  10. 10. G.R. FERRIS ET AL. 393 have been depicted by some researchers as opposite ends of the spectrum. They adopt the complementary perspective of Milliman, Von Glinow, and Nathan (1991), however, and argue that both fit and flexibility are necessary to organi- zational effectiveness. We would carry their argument one step further, and contend that, for firms in highly turbulent environments, flexibility is imperative in order to achieve fit of employee and organizational capabilities with changing competitive priorities. Future research in SHRM should consider that strategy is dynamic in unstable environments. Moreover, examinations into HRM practices and systems that provide the firm with the capabilities to swiftly and easily adapt to changing environmental demands should be conducted. Further, investigations into the HRM-strategy link have almost exclusively focused on predominant intended strategy of the firm and assumed that the professed intended strategy is equivalent to the emergent or realized strategy. Examinations based on that assumption are inherently flawed, as it is an assump- tion that must certainly prove to hold for few, if any, firms in today’s intensely unstable competitive environment. Further, most studies of the HRM-strategy link presume that the intended strategy is uniformly known and understood throughout the organization. Given this uniformity in understanding, HRM professionals have the knowledge and ability to implement policies and practices that would be most effective in achieving strategic goals (an assumption that ignores bounded rationality). The foregoing assumptions are questionable, and should receive consideration in future research in SHRM. Another issue posed, but as yet unaddressed, is to what extent do the various practices in HRM systems have differential impact on organizational effective- ness, including not only financial performance, but also success in implementing organizational strategy, and achievement of strategic goals. Typically, studies have used an additive measure, combining the specific practices into an un- weighted composite. It has been argued that aggregating the data into a composite is appropriate as firms can improve their performance by either increasing the number of HRM practices that they have in place, or by increasing the number of employees to whom these practices apply (MacDuffie, 1995; Youndt et al., 1996). However, if there is a differential impact of various HRM practices on firm performance, the absence (or presence) of any particular practice would have a greater (or lesser) effect on results than is indicated by equal weighting. A related issue concerns the operationalization of HRM practices in these studies. Specifically, the measures used to date have been very generic in nature. For instance, most studies have asked only the extent to which organizations utilize “formal performance appraisals.” However, the use of “formal perfor- mance appraisals” can mean very different things in different HRM systems. Are the performance appraisals developmental in nature? Do they include co-worker or customer input? Are forced rankings used? Are appraisals reflective of tradi- tional subjective supervisory ratings? Certainly, the type of appraisal most con- ducive to achieving organizational goals would vary across organizational con- texts. The generic “formal appraisal” is thereby limited in the amount of information it conveys. The same is true of generic measures of selection methods, reward systems, and other HRM practices. More definitive constructs JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  11. 11. 394 HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT would provide richer information and insight into the effectiveness of these practices and their appropriateness given variance in organizational goals. An issue of further concern is that of HRM effectiveness. There are two perspectives of HRM effectiveness in need of theoretical and empirical attention: (1) the effectiveness with which HRM policies and practices are implemented; and (2) the effectiveness of these policies and practices in producing desired results. The only study to date examining these issues was conducted with regard to the second perspective. Huselid (1995) found a positive relationship between HRM capabilities and overall HRM effectiveness, as well as a positive impact of HRM effectiveness on firm performance. Both measures of HRM capabilities and HRM effectiveness, however, were determined through surveys of senior HRM executives. As the potential for bias exists in such measures, other studies utilizing multiple respondents are needed to bolster these findings. A related question is “effectiveness with regard to what?” Does effectiveness mean primarily firm financial performance? Stockholder satisfaction? Or, are there other measures of effectiveness that need to be considered in order to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of HRM systems? Many theoreticians have suggested that a balanced scorecard approach offers the po- tential for a more appropriate measure of effectiveness. This approach focuses on multiple stakeholders including investors, customers, and employees, and it has been proposed as a more complete measure of total performance (Ulrich, 1997). The assessment of effectiveness is simply one more example of conceptualization and measurement issues with which future researchers will be confronted. A final issue, and one that is perhaps most integral to our understanding of the HRM-firm performance relationship is that of the “black box.” More specif- ically, if there is indeed an impact of HRM systems on firm performance, how do these effects occur? What are the mechanisms through which these effects manifest themselves? Do these effects vary under different levels of contextual or environmental factors? These questions call for theory refinement and the devel- opment of more comprehensive theoretical models of the HRM-firm performance relationship that include intermediate linkages and boundary conditions. A recent attempt to more precisely articulate these intermediate linkages and processes was proposed by Ferris et al. (1998). They developed a social context theory of the HRM-organization effectiveness relationship which suggests some specific direc- tions for research in this area. Further, empirical investigations of such models, testing for mediation (intermediate linkages) and moderation (boundary condi- tions) would greatly enhance our understanding of the dynamics of the HRM-firm effectiveness link. More definitive empirical validation of the “hows” and “whys” of this relationship might also prove to be the most convincing evidence to practitioners of the value of the HRM function. As such, this type of research should be given a high priority by HRM scholars. International Human Resource Management There has been a dramatic increase in interest in the management of human resources in an international context, such as in multinational organizations. For many years, International Human Resource Management (IHRM) researchers and JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  12. 12. G.R. FERRIS ET AL. 395 practitioners grappled with the convergence/divergence dichotomy. Many be- lieved that the key to IHRM was to apply those concepts developed and successful in the United States to an international context. This was superseded (correctly) by the divergence approach that recognized the influence of myriad cultural variables in the management of human resources in an international context and the need to develop different perspectives for different cultures. Those who practice and conduct research in IHRM must, according to Ricks, Toyne, and Martinez (1990), include several unique dimensions in their research and appli- cations. As opposed to domestic HRM research, IHRM researchers must be wary of the interaction of different cultural-based norms and social values, the adapt- ability of management issues from one culture to another, the legal and economic differences that exist, and the different learning styles and response styles due to socio-cultural differences. As Dowling, Schuler, and Welch (1994) have sug- gested, the complexities of operating in diverse countries and the necessity of employing different national categories of workers is the main point of differen- tiation between domestic HRM and IHRM. Organizations engaged in interna- tional HRM must become intimately involved in the personal lives of employees and help guide them through myriad institutions (e.g., governments, legal sys- tems, etc.). In their literature review, Ricks et al. stated that many areas in IHRM research have suffered from either neglect or oversight, including “career devel- opment, termination of services, absenteeism, demotion, employee attitude, lead- ership patterns, control patterns, motivation, and job design” (1990: 222). Al- though there has been progress in some of these areas, the apparent shortcoming has continued through the past decade. An area in which there has been much IHRM research is in the area Napier et al. (1995) have classified as employee- focused literature which examines issues relating to expatriate employees (Har- vey, 1989), inpatriation (Harvey & Buckley, 1997), and dual career issues (Harvey, 1996). Research findings continue to confirm the seminal conclusion of Tung (1987) that adjustment to a different cultural milieu is difficult from numerous perspectives. A second area that has stimulated considerable research concerns the functional areas of IHRM. Much of this research is centered upon the issues surrounding the selection, training, preparing of, appraising, and compen- sation of expatriates (Napier et al., 1995). A third area that has seen some progress is the development of an integrative paradigm of the IHRM process. Work by Schuler, Dowling, and DeCieri (1993), Taylor and Beechler (1993), and Taylor, Beechler, and Napier (1996) represent attempts to integrate the IHRM process into the overall strategic planning of a multinational organization. Recent reviews have suggested areas in which IHRM research should focus. Schuler and Florkowski (1996) suggested that more rigorous research designs must be implemented. There is a need to move beyond the descriptive case studies and frequency distributions that comprise a substantial portion of the research reported in IHRM. They argued that IHRM “is still at a point where published findings raise many more questions than they answer” (1996: 388). Further, Arvey, Bhagat, and Salas (1991) pointed out that this area is lacking in that IHRM researchers have failed in their attempts to develop a theoretical perspective from JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  13. 13. 396 HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT which predictions of behavior and explanations of observed behavior are more parsimonious. Despite the progress that has been made with respect to IHRM, the following issues need to be considered in the next decade: 1. More work needs to be done to develop an integrative paradigm of the IHRM process. IHRM cannot stand alone. In addition, there is a com- plex set of environmental factors (e.g., legal issues) which have just not been well represented in extant models. Matching IHRM with optimal environmental issues will challenge researchers and practitioners for many years to come. IHRM may be able to perform an important boundary spanning function in this regard. 2. Too many researchers have emphasized the multinational nature of IHRM. We believe that this emphasis has been misplaced. This is a global issue and researchers and practitioners need to evolve through the current country orientation to more of a global perspective. Treating IHRM on a country-by-country basis fails to fall in line with the move toward globalization, which is well underway. While we are aware that there are still many organizations which desire information about spe- cific countries, and that there may be between country differences, we believe that these differences will become significantly less important. Country should not be the unit of analysis in IHRM research. Individuals should be the important unit of analysis. IHRM researchers should emphasize individual responses and not individual, by country, re- sponses. 3. IHRM is still thought of as a group of separate and distinct processes. However, it is more than that, and researchers must change their per- spective to take into account the systematic interaction of IHRM activ- ities (Punnett & Ricks, 1992). IHRM should be conceptualized as a means for global organizations to gain competitive differentiation and advantage through people while implementing a more strategic approach to the use of human resources. 4. Future researchers need to evaluate the value added of IHRM to the global, behavioral, and financial competitiveness of organizations. Methods are available to determine these contributions. 5. The issue of information technology and its influence on IHRM has not received sufficient attention. This may result in many changes in both the research and practice of IHRM. Political Perspective on Human Resources Management Whereas anecdotal evidence has indicated for quite some time that influence and politics emerge to affect the operation and outcomes of HRM systems, it was not until a decade ago that HRM scholars provided systematic examination of this area (e.g., Ferris & Judge, 1991; Frost, 1989; Pfeffer, 1989). The finding that impressions can overshadow substance in HRM decisions has both theoretical and practical importance (Ferris, Galang, Thornton, & Wayne, 1995), and suggests the JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  14. 14. G.R. FERRIS ET AL. 397 need to know much more about the nature and dynamics of such processes. Because the Ferris and Judge (1991) Yearly Review piece was quite comprehen- sive, we simply provide an update of work published since then that takes a political perspective on HRM systems. The political perspective on HRM issues has stimulated considerable re- search interest and activity among organizational scientists in recent years. Much of the published research has tended to focus on how influence tactics and politics affect staffing/employment interview decisions, the performance evaluation pro- cess, and career success, so these categories are used to organize this review. Staffing/employment interview decisions. Human resources staffing deci- sions are widely regarded as some of the most important decisions made in organizations. Furthermore, a principal focus of staffing decisions is the employ- ment interview, so it is appropriate to examine this decision-making tool with respect to influence and politics. Research has continued on how influence tactics in the employment inter- view affect interviewer decisions, following some of the suggestions for future research proposed by Ferris and Judge (1991). Kacmar, Delery, and Ferris (1992) conducted an investigation that was designed to assess the relative effectiveness of two types of influence tactics used by applicants on interviewer decisions. They found that interviewers gave higher ratings and recommendations for job offers to applicants who employed self-promotion tactics than those who used ingratiation- type tactics. Howard and Ferris (1996) tested the model proposed by Ferris and Judge (1991), which examined influence tactics and their effects on HRM outcomes through the intermediate linkages of perceived similarity, affect, and perceived competence. They found that nonverbal behaviors by applicants (e.g., eye contact, smiling, nodding) positively influenced interviewers’ judgments of applicants’ competence which, in turn, had a significant path to job suitability ratings. Interestingly, self-promotion tactics by applicants not only did not help their case, but also demonstrated a negative path to perceptions of similarity. Finally, Howard and Ferris tested the notion proposed by Gilmore and Ferris (1989) that interviewers with more training and thus more preparation for the interview context should be influenced less by impression management tactics of applicants than those with less training. Indeed, they found a significant interaction effect demonstrating support for this contention. In a carefully conducted investigation, Stevens and Kristof (1995) reported evidence of applicant impression management effects in initial interviews on actual invitations for subsequent site visits. Furthermore, they noted the potential disparity in laboratory and field investigations of influence tactics used in the interview, reporting that in actual interviews, they found that applicants used self-promotion tactics extensively, but limited their use of ingratiation. These studies representatively reflect the continued interest by researchers in how influence and politics affect interviewer decisions. A more extensive review of this area and directions for future research can be found in Gilmore, Stevens, Harrell-Cook, and Ferris (1999). JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  15. 15. 398 HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT There is clear evidence that organizations today are highlighting the impor- tance of applicant “fit” to the job or organizational context as a selection criterion, where fit is measured by the perceived similarity or compatibility of the applicant to the environment (Kristof, 1996). Indeed, despite considerable research and practical prescriptions aimed at structured interviews, Dipboye (1994) argued that a number of factors (including power and politics issues) have contributed to the dominance of unstructured interviews that focus on applicant fit. Furthermore, Judge and Ferris (1992) suggested that a continued focus on structured interviews as a selection tool might be misdirected if the true goal and usefulness of the interview is to assess the elusive and poorly defined notion of fit. Judge and Ferris recommend a dual assessment process whereby technical qualifications and fit to the job can be best measured by tests and other objective procedures, whereas the interview can best assess the fit of applicants to the values, goals, and culture of the organization. It is conceivable that structured interviews could be used to assess fit as long as the fit construct is carefully and precisely defined. Unfortu- nately, this task may be difficult to accomplish, and has eluded practitioners to date. A challenge that is created by a focus on fit as a staffing criterion is that fit tends to be not well-defined and it can be manipulated, managed, and shaped by the conscious efforts of applicants and employees. Therefore, applicants in the interview and employees in organizations can behave in ways designed to convey “good fit” to the organizations’ beliefs, values, and culture. Indeed, an interesting and related area of research focuses on the display of emotions in organizations, and effects on others. Arvey, Renz, and Watson (1998) discussed the role of emotionality in personnel selection, and identified the potential complexities of distinguishing the false display of emotion aimed at enhancing perceived fit of the applicant. Staw, Sutton, and Pelled (1994) suggested a challenge for research in this area is to sort out the extent to which favorable outcomes are caused by the positive affect associated with emotional displays, or by the actual use of ingra- tiation tactics. As work in this area progresses, it will be useful to isolate on the role of particular types of emotions, beyond simply positive and negative cate- gorizations. In this regard, theoretical work by scholars like Vecchio (1995) on emotions of jealousy and envy in the workplace provides important directions. Performance evaluation process. Theory and research in recent years has increasingly acknowledged that supervisors rating employee performance may subordinate the objective of accuracy to other more self-serving and political goals and agenda (e.g., Cleveland & Murphy, 1992; Longenecker, Sims, & Gioia, 1987; Villanova & Bernardin, 1989, 1991). This finding suggests that rating errors may not simply be errors of omission, but errors of commission as well. Addi- tionally, the importance of understanding how employee influence tactics affect supervisor ratings of employee performance has increased in recent years (Ferris & Frink, 1997) as HRM scholars have demonstrated the importance of the social context of the performance evaluation process (e.g., Judge & Ferris, 1993). In an effort to model the social and political context of the performance evaluation process, Ferris, Judge, Rowland, and Fitzgibbons (1994) found that ingratiation had positive effects and self-promotion had negative effects on performance JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  16. 16. G.R. FERRIS ET AL. 399 ratings through their effects on supervisor affect or liking. Interestingly, more careful examination of the ingratiation tactics reveal behaviors like “favor doing” and “volunteering to do extra work” which appear to be much like what Borman and Motowidlo (1993) identified as “contextual performance,” and what others have referred to as organizational citizenship (Organ, 1988) or prosocial behaviors (Brief & Motowidlo, 1986). This suggests the need for future research to more carefully delineate the nature and dimensions of employee job-related behaviors and performance. Because research on influence tactics in performance evaluation has been predominantly cross-sectional in nature, there has been a serious need to examine the extent to which effects of influence tactics extend over time. Wayne and Liden (1995) conducted a longitudinal study and found that ingratiating types of influ- ence tactics positively affected subsequent ratings of employee performance by supervisors through perceived similarity. Ingratiation also was related to super- visor affect toward employee, but affect did not demonstrate a significant path to performance ratings. Interestingly, and contrary to the significant negative path for self-promotion reported by Ferris, Judge, Rowland, & Fitzgibbons (1994), Wayne and Liden found self-promotion to be unrelated to supervisor affect and outcomes. Cross-sectional work has been important in this area, and we have learned much about the immediate effects of influence tactics on HRM decisions. However, we desperately need more longitudinal research to address just how the effects of influence tactics endure, dissipate, or even change over time in their effects on outcomes. Ferris and Judge (1991) suggested that scholars in this area expand their investigations to consider the effects of different types of influence tactics in the performance evaluation process. In particular, they argued that goal setting itself may be an impression management strategy. Thus, goals may be set for reasons other than self-direction. Frink and Ferris (1998) examined goal setting under different levels of accountability in the performance evaluation process and found that accountability influenced the extent to which goals were used for perfor- mance-directed versus impression management purposes. Specifically, goals and performance were significantly related under conditions of low accountability, but decoupled and unrelated under conditions of high accountability. Career success. Career success is obviously a multidimensional construct, and typically manifests itself in research as involving such dimensions as pro- motions or promotability ratings, salary progression, and performance ratings. Recent theoretical work has articulated how the career progression and success process can be at least if not more symbolic and political than it is substantive (e.g., Cooper, Graham, & Dyke, 1993; Ferris, Fedor, & King, 1994), and thus that enhancing one’s political skill can facilitate career outcomes. Some research has specifically examined the role of influence and politics in the promotion process. Ferris, Buckley, and Allen (1992) proposed and tested a model of the antecedents and consequences of promotion systems, and reported evidence that highlighted the importance of fit, political savvy, similarity of interests and values, and impression management. Thacker and Wayne (1995) conducted a study of influence tactics effects on supervisor assessments of JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  17. 17. 400 HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT promotability. The results supported hypotheses that reasoning was positively related and assertiveness was negatively related to promotability. Contrary to prediction, ingratiation was negatively related to promotability perceptions. Extending beyond just promotions, some research has investigated the role of influence tactics on other aspects of career success. Judge and Bretz (1994) found effects of influence tactics on both extrinsic (salary, job level, number of promo- tions, etc.) and intrinsic (job and life satisfaction) career success. Interestingly, their findings are quite similar to the influence tactics results reported by Ferris, Judge et al. (1994) in that ingratiation tactics resulted in higher outcomes while self-promotion tactics had a negative impact. Further, Kilduff and Day (1994), in their examination of managerial career success, found that self-monitoring (often associated with political skill and ability to influence) favorably affected career success. Specifically, managers high on self-monitoring received more promo- tions and experienced greater career mobility than low self-monitors. Finally, Wayne, Liden, Graf, and Ferris (1997) tested a model that examined the effects of six influence tactics (as measured by the Kipnis & Schmidt, 1982 instrument) on performance ratings, promotability assessments, and salary pro- gression as mediated by the three intermediate linkages of affect, perceived similarity, and competence suggested by Ferris and Judge (1991). Reasoning, assertiveness, and favor doing were positively related to mediator variables, and bargaining and self-promotion were negatively related. Manager perceptions of employee skills and perceptions of similarity, in turn, were related to career outcomes. Contrary to some previous research, affect or liking did not mediate the linkages between influence tactics and outcomes. A needed direction for future research in this area is to develop the notion of “political skill.” Jones (1990) asked the question (in discussing interpersonal influence): “What are the components that blend so effectively when we say that someone has ‘style’?” (p. 199). So, it is not enough to simply examine the extent to which one demonstrates influence/political behavior. Additionally, we need to understand how effectively, sincerely, and genuinely they come across, which will contribute to the success or failure of influence attempts. This involves developing a much better understanding of this style or political skill component. Key Issues and Future Directions Although the forgoing review provides an assessment of the progress of theory and research to date in the three dominant perspective areas along which HRM work has been conducted in recent years, we also would like to propose some interesting and potentially quite important directions for future work in HRM. This section articulates a number of significant concepts and issues in the organizational sciences that have interesting integrative potential with HRM to produce innovative streams of work. Research on some of the concepts proposed below is already well underway, and progressing in some interesting directions, whereas other ideas proposed are quite new suggestions. Space constraints pre- vent us from developing these areas as fully as they need, but we feel that at least JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  18. 18. G.R. FERRIS ET AL. 401 raising some issues in each area might serve the purpose of stimulating further work by HRM scholars. Accountability and HRM A number of recent works underscore the embeddedness of accountability in organizational foundations in stark contrast to the scarce representation of this construct in the organizational literature (Ferris, Mitchell, Canavan, Frink, & Hopper, 1995; Frink & Ferris, 1998; Frink & Klimoski, 1998). Theory and research on accountability holds substantial promise for the advancement of the HRM knowledge base, in part because many HRM functions can be defined as accountability mechanisms, including selection, performance evaluations, and compensation (Ferris et al., 1995). Theory and research collectively indicate that accountability is more than a moderating mechanism that can prevent misdeeds in and by organizations (e.g., Carnevale, 1985; Ferris, Mitchell et al., 1995; Frink & Klimoski, 1998; Mitchell, 1993; Schlenker, 1997; Schlenker, Britt, Pennington, Murphy, & Doherty, 1994; Tetlock, 1985, 1992). Rather, it is a complex phenomenon encompassing a broad spectrum of social dynamics, and numerous areas call for research into the accountability phenomenon. Empirical study has largely emphasized the pro- cesses used in coping with accountability conditions in laboratory contexts (e.g., Adelberg & Batson, 1978; Brief, Dukerich, & Doran, 1991; Fandt, 1991; Frink & Ferris, in press; Gordon, Rozelle, & Baxter, 1988, 1989; Rozelle & Baxter, 1981; O’Connor, 1997; Tetlock & Boettger, 1989, 1994; Tetlock & Kim, 1987; Tetlock, Skitka, & Boettger, 1989). Results from these studies indicate the need for extensive research that advances knowledge both in this direction and in natural- istic settings. Four basic areas seem to be of immediate importance. First, research is needed for support and development of contemporary accountability theory. Tenets of this theory include the notion that people anticipate accountabilities, and as a matter of routine or habit, evaluate their circumstances (especially in work contexts) in terms of potential accountabilities. Another tenet concerns how people develop accountability perceptions. A third tenet concerns the presence of multiple audiences. Important questions include how we prioritize and manage these multiple sources of evaluation. A fourth tenet concerns the salience of our perceptions of various account- abilities. Relevant questions include whether the influence is additive. For exam- ple, do we feel twice as accountable when we report to two audiences (e.g., a customer and a supervisor) versus to a single audience? A second question is whether the relationships are linear or nonlinear, which is a question of degrees, and can be articulated in terms of how accountabilities are perceived and how much is useful. In this vein, Ferris et al. (1997) found that increasing levels of perceived accountability were positively correlated with increasing use of influ- ence tactics. A fifth tenet concerns the alignment of expectations from various audiences, focusing on how we periodically (or perhaps often) cope with con- flicting demands, or misaligned expectations. The second basic area of need concerns understanding the relationships of contextual moderators and other phenomena with accountability conditions. Po- JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  19. 19. 402 HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT tentially important moderators include audience characteristics, work context contingencies, job demands (e.g., time pressures, ambiguity, control, etc.), and so forth. Additionally, two related phenomena seem notable. First, accountability and organizational politics seem natural companions for providing interesting and relevant information. Following Tetlock’s (1985, 1992) metaphor of the person as an intuitive politician, it seems natural to investigate the relationships between accountability conditions (e.g., closer scrutiny, several evaluators) and political activity. As noted earlier, Ferris et al. (1997) found increased use of impression management techniques to be positively correlated with increased feelings of accountability. The second is organizational justice. It is easy to envision possi- bilities of an interplay of accountability and both procedural and distributive justice perceptions and also an influence of justice perceptions on how people respond to accountability requirements as they see them. The third basic area of need is that of individual differences in responding to accountability. Frink and Ferris (in press) and Yarnold, Mueser, and Lyons (1988) have demonstrated moderating effects of personality variables (Conscientiousness and Type A personality, respectively). One can easily develop hypotheses for the influences of various types of individual differences on accountability episodes. The final area of research concerns the need to relate accountability specif- ically to HRM functions and concerns. As noted above, many, if not all, HRM functions can be cast as accountability mechanisms. Some work has been done in this area, specifically in performance evaluations (e.g., Frink & Ferris, 1998; Klimoski & Inks, 1990; Mero & Motowidlo, 1995), but much more is needed. Interestingly, many public calls for accountability are related to HRM functions, such as CEO compensation (e.g., Crystal, 1991; Monks & Minow, 1991). Other areas such as staffing and training have received little attention, but might prove to be fruitful areas of inquiry both for theory and practice (Frink & Klimoski, 1998). There has been some effort in recent years to model the phenomenon, and these works can serve to provide conceptual underpinnings and frameworks to support and direct future work. Notable among these are a dynamic framework (Frink & Klimoski, 1998), static models (Cummings & Anton, 1990; Ferris et al., 1997; Ferris, Mitchell et al., 1995; Schlenker et al., 1994), and the theoretical works of Carnevale (1985) and Tetlock (1985, 1992). Diversity and HRM The dynamics of diversity are quite complex, and we have substantial gaps in our knowledge of diversity in organizations. Moreover, these gaps severely limit our ability to make appropriate prescriptions, or even adequate descriptions. Current theories of diversity are largely extrapolated from group research with the assumption that group effects will aggregate to produce organization-level ben- efits. This is a reasonable hypothesis, but one that is untested. Several dynamics are relevant to diversity in organizations at both group and organizational levels, however, there is a marked shortage of valid empirical research. Given that the bottom line effects of diversity are quite complex and dynamic (Morrisette, Frink, Robinson, & Reithel, 1998), these issues are critical. JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  20. 20. G.R. FERRIS ET AL. 403 Current trends. One approach to diversity concerns the social climate and social interaction patterns within the group. One dimension is group cohesiveness, and in general, cohesiveness should be easier in homogeneous groups (Ziller, 1973). Another dimension concerns cultural differences that may occur between races, such as viewing competition and cooperation among group members differently. A third is the differences in how different people respond to organi- zational contingencies. For example, Konrad, Winter, and Gutek (1992) found that women who are in the minority are more likely to experience isolation and dissatisfaction with the organization. A major underpinning of expected diversity benefits is the notion that creativity and judgment are improved in diverse workgroups versus homogeneous groups (e.g., Ancona & Caldwell, 1992; Hoffman & Maier, 1961; Kanter, 1983; McLeod, Lobel, & Cox, 1993; Triandis, Bass, Ewen, & Mikesell, 1963; Watson, Kumar, & Michaelsen, 1993; Wierserma & Bantel, 1992). Jackson (1992), how- ever, reported that the only clear conclusion is that groups with diversity of personal attributes and ability outperform homogeneous groups on creative or judgmental tasks. Substantial research is needed to better understand the processes used in creativity and judgment, and their roles, both beneficial and detrimental, in organizational contexts. Potential trends and issues for future investigation. Broad sets of ques- tions are available about how minorities and women tend to respond to various features of organizational environments. For example, Ferris, Frink, Bhawuk, Zhou, and Gilmore (1996) investigated how understanding moderated the rela- tionships between politics perceptions and subjective outcomes for different demographic subgroups. They found that understanding moderated the relation- ship for white males, did not moderate the relationship for black males, and produced mixed results for females. Indeed, we may expect to see differences in how the political nature of HRM and other organizational activities support or subvert desired outcomes from the various groups. In another vein, Ferris, Frink, and Galang (1993) recently noted that, while firms may espouse diversity and even claim it as a competitive advantage, our organizational systems generally promote homogeneity and resist diversity. Aside from the natural tendency to like people who are like ourselves, quite often work and workplaces were designed and instituted by similarly minded people. There is a critical need to realistically understand the nature of the similarities and differences associated with diversity so that these issues may be applied to developing alternative HRM approaches. Translating practice to theory. It seems readily apparent that diversity effects are context contingent, and we need to capture the dynamics of work environments in our frameworks. These may include the type of work that is done, diversity at various levels in the organization, how various types of diversity play out in various contexts, and the relative mix of majority to minority representa- tives. At issue is the question of just what mixture of demographic group representatives constitutes diversity in a workgroup or organization. An empirical definition of diversity in a workplace and the potential for nonlinear diversity- JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  21. 21. 404 HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT performance relationships have been largely ignored, yet are critical for under- standing just what diversity effects really mean. Accomplishing these tasks will require a better understanding of culture (both social and organizational) and of gender. Further, this understanding must be grounded solidly in conceptually consistent theory which has been established by empirical support and not by social preference per se. Ferris et al. (1998) recently provided an integrative conceptualization of culture, diversity, HRM systems, and organization performance in an effort to shed further light on precisely how and why HRM systems influence the performance of organizations. These and other needed efforts will allow us to draw more confident, scientifically based conclusions about the meaning of diversity for organizational environ- ments. Justice and HRM Notions of fairness and justice are fundamental concepts in the organiza- tional sciences, and provide quite logical theoretical foundations for examination of HRM issues. Theory and research on organizational justice has been around for quite some time, and have been applied to HRM systems over the past decade and a half by Greenberg, Folger, Cropanzano, and their associates. Indeed, research has been conducted on the implications of justice for personnel selection, perfor- mance evaluation, and compensation systems in recent years (e.g., Folger & Cropanzano, 1998; Folger, Konovsky, & Cropanzano, 1992; Gilliland, 1993; Korsgaard & Roberson, 1995; Taylor, Tracy, Renard, Harrison, & Carroll, 1995). Therefore, the integration of justice and HRM is not a new area of research by any means, but it is well along in its development. What is less well developed is the integration of organizational justice and HRM systems that incorporates a polit- ical perspective, but some initial efforts have been made in this area. Dulebohn (1997) proposed a conceptualization of how social influence and justice reactions can be integrated in better understanding the operation of human resources systems. More specifically, he suggested that employee use of influence tactics can represent a mechanism of informal voice and involvement which has implications for employee perceptions of justice in HRM decision processes (e.g., performance evaluation systems, etc). In a recent test of portions of this concep- tualization, Dulebohn and Ferris (in press) found support for the role of influence tactics as informal mechanisms of voice in the performance evaluation process. Symbolic and Reputational Considerations in HRM Traditional views of HRM have implicitly, if not explicitly, focused on the substantive aspects of HRM policies and practices. Indeed, this is an important fundamental assumption of the field. However, we need to acknowledge that symbolism, ceremonial activities, and legitimacy considerations are also critical issues that can inform our understanding of the operation of HRM systems. In this section, we first examine symbolic issues in HRM. Next, we examine how such symbolic issues help us to understand the power and influence of HRM depart- ments, and the implementation of progressive HRM practices. Finally, we discuss JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  22. 22. G.R. FERRIS ET AL. 405 how issues of reputation are important to understand, not simply with regard to organizations overall, but also with respect to HRM functions or departments. Pfeffer (1981) argued that there are two distinctive levels of organizational analysis. One focuses on the decisions and actions that have observable, substan- tive outcomes. The other involves understanding how such activities are perceived and interpreted. He noted that symbols are particularly important in environments characterized by a high degree of uncertainty or ambiguity. In such circumstances, symbols can help reduce uncertainty by helping participants interpret events in the environment. Formal HRM practices (e.g., selection/staffing), which articulate specific procedures to follow, have a substantive purpose. Moreover, they also have a symbolic purpose by signaling to internal and external constituents that important HRM decisions are being made in the proper way (Dipboye, 1994, 1995). Beliefs and values of an organization are key components of its culture, and HRM policies and practices can symbolically communicate the organizations’ values to participants (Dandridge, Mitroff, & Joyce, 1980; Dipboye, 1994). In fact, the cultural and symbolic aspects of HRM practices can become so strong and entrenched in the organizational environment that they perpetuate even when they are not achieving their substantive goals (Trice, Belasco, & Alutto, 1969). Peters (1978) argued that senior managers in organizations are transmitters whose actions signal meaning to participants as they are repeated. Consistent with this view, Ulrich (1998) suggested that managers should invest resources in HRM policies and practices to demonstrate to various constituencies that they think it is an important area, worthy of time and attention. Therefore, HRM systems serve symbolic and legitimating purposes that go beyond their substantive value or contribution. Citing the basic elements of institutional theory (Meyer & Rowan, 1977), Dipboye (1994) suggested that personnel selection practices have ceremonial value in conveying to others that systematic and legitimate methods were used to hire people. Galang, Elsik, and Russ (1999) recently proposed a conceptualization of HRM policies and practices which focuses not on their substantive value, but rather on how they serve symbolic and legitimacy purposes. Consistent with this symbolic view of HRM systems, some researchers have examined how HRM departments gain and maintain power and influence. Ferris, Galang et al. (1995) discussed both the science and practice of power acquisition by HRM departments in organizations. Russ, Galang, and Ferris (1998) provided a more precise articulation of how HRM departments actively engage in the process of not simply justifying their existence, but of demonstrating their critically important role to the organization with their “phantom threat— discov- ered threat” model. Finally, Galang and Ferris (1997) integrated power, politics, and social construction theory in an empirical investigation of how HRM depart- ments acquire influence. They found that symbolic actions (e.g., image and importance-enhancing behaviors and communications) were by far the strongest predictors of HRM power and influence. A final issue we wish to raise in this section has to do with the nature of organization and HRM reputation. In many respects, the ultimate criterion of JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  23. 23. 406 HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT importance to managers and organizations is reputation, despite its subjectivity, imprecise measurement, and the fact that it is probably more of a political than a scientific construct (Ferris, Fedor et al., 1994). Several recent critical analyses of the construct have been published that highlight the firm’s reputation as an important asset that communicates important information to constituencies about its most attractive features. These features can be subsequently used to build a competitive advantage (e.g., Belkaoui & Pavlik, 1992; Fombrun, 1996; Fombrun & Shanley, 1990; Shenkar & Yuchtman-Yaar, 1997). Because a good portion of what goes into the corporate reputation construct has to do with good management and HRM practices (Fortune has reported that the principal determinant of corporate reputation for its Corporate Reputation Survey is the quality of man- agement, Ballen, 1992; Koys, 1997), it seems reasonable to investigate how companies might rank on the progressiveness of their HRM policies and practices. Koys (1997) conducted a study in an effort to link HRM objectives of firms with their Fortune corporate reputation rating. He found that firms who placed strong emphasis on treating their employees fairly tended to have the most favorable corporate reputations. An obvious prescription we could make is that an investment in progressive and innovative HRM policies and practices makes good business sense, so all organizations should make such investments. However, the difficulty is that there are, indeed, competing pressures for such HRM investment (Harrell-Cook & Ferris, 1997), which highlight the pressures firms feel from the financial commu- nity and Wall Street analysts. Furthermore, there are political considerations that impact on the successful implementation of HRM innovations (Johns, 1993). Appelbaum and Batt (1994) suggested that for publicly held companies, where maximization of stock price and creating shareholder wealth are major objectives, investment of company resources in “difficult-to-measure activities” like HRM practices is often discouraged. Further testimony to the misguided reward system for HRM investment is the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Appelbaum and Batt noted that of the 85% of the total Baldrige points that are allocated for improvements in management methods, only 15% of those points are awarded for improvements in HRM practices. Despite such competing pressures for HRM investment, it seems quite clear that the spirit of the times we are currently experiencing favors valuation of human resources, and implementation of innovative HRM practices. However, the burden remains on both HRM scholars and practitioners to demonstrate a strong linkage between HRM systems and firm performance, as was noted in an earlier section of this article. As we more clearly and solidly support that linkage, we might consider encouraging the implementation of progressive HRM practices in organizations by creating something for the HRM field similar to the Fortune Corporate Reputation rating. Personnel Journal already gives its Optimas Awards for innovative HRM practices, but these tend to be for very focused types of programs, and not for system-wide implementations. An “HRM Effectiveness Index” might be created to recognize organizations that reflect innovation in the implementation of their entire HRM systems. Highly rated firms on this index would likely capture features of Ulrich’s (1997) Human Resource Champions, JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  24. 24. G.R. FERRIS ET AL. 407 enjoy synergistic effects from compatible and mutually reinforcing HRM prac- tices (e.g., Huselid, 1995), and hopefully also rank among the highest performing companies. Such efforts would seem to rely on not only sound research and practice, but on the effective integration of the two, which is the topic of the next section. Bridging the Gap Between the Science and Practice of HRM In spite of the significant progress that has been made with respect to both the science and practice of HRM, the gap between these two areas remains. Buckley, Ferris, Bernardin, and Harvey (1998) have called this problem “a disconnect.” It is a disconnect in that scientists and practitioners seem to have segregated along these lines. This is a relatively recent phenomenon because until the relatively recent past, the study of HRM was problem driven (e.g., the Hawthorne studies are a shining example of significant scientist/practitioner collaboration). Our zest to develop a theory of HRM may have been instrumental in driving a wedge between scientists and practitioners. Buckley et al. (1998) reported that managers are relatively familiar with the research in HRM, but they fail to see many practical implications coming from said research. Much of our research can be classified as methodologically or data-driven, rather than topic driven, despite the suggestion by Hackman (1985) that doing problem-driven research is the best way to generate advances in basic theory. Further, many of us are trained to generate knowledge in our discipline, not to solve organizational problems. So, the development of this scientist/practitioner gap has been a natural occurrence in our developing science. Lawler (1985) attempted to bridge this gap by suggesting that we need to conduct “useful” research. He argued that if research is to be useful, it must meet two fundamental criteria: (1) The outcome must facilitate practitioners’ under- standing of organizations and result in improved practices; and (2) the outcome must contribute to the theory and body of knowledge generated in the science of HRM. The field of HRM appears to be moving in the direction suggested by Lawler. As Hitt (1995) stated after reviewing recent issues of “the scholarly journals” in our field: Admittedly, I do not have expertise on all of the topic areas on which the articles focused. However, in each issue I was able to identify one (often several) article that had clear and important implications for managers. (p. 53) We agree, and believe that although some research has little practical value, there is a great deal of research that has far-reaching implications for public policy and human resources management practices. Terpstra and his colleagues have conducted recent research which addresses the gap between the science and practice of HRM, and the types of information sources that practitioners use (Terpstra, Mohamed, & Rozell, 1996; Terpstra & Rozell, 1997). Results demonstrated that academic research sources were used less frequently by managers than practitioner sources. Furthermore, and of even JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  25. 25. 408 HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT greater interest, is the finding that organizational profitability increased the extent to which firms reported making greater use of academic research sources. Use of practitioner sources was not significantly related to profitability. Further work in this area should begin to shed more light on information access, types of information outlets, and the effective interface between academic research find- ings and practitioner use. Ferris, Barnum, Rosen, Holleran, and Dulebohn (1995) have suggested a way to minimize the chasm between science and practitioners. They believe we need to more closely follow the evolution of the field of industrial/organizational psychology where the integration of science and practice has been actively promoted for many years. In addition, Ferris et al. (1995) concluded that the best way to accomplish this in the field of HRM is through the development of business-university partnerships. These partnerships actively involve partner ex- ecutives in identifying the issues and problems in their firms on which they would like to see research conducted. Universities (and organizations) which have developed these partnerships report that they are instrumental in developing great opportunities to contribute to both the theory and practice of HRM. Moving in this direction may help us develop innovative approaches to the practice of HRM, while developing its theoretical base. Conclusion In an effort to increase its competitiveness globally, organizational America has undergone a major transformation in size, structure, and design. Largely anachronistic in today’s turbulent and dynamic organizational environments, the traditional bureaucratic structure, with its multi-layered, pyramidal design, is being replaced by flatter, horizontal structures. Unfortunately, our theories of how organizations operate are implicitly (if not explicitly) based on the bureaucratic model. As a consequence, we are desperately in need of theories that embrace these new organizational forms (Daft & Lewin, 1993). More specifically, in order to fully comprehend the evolution and transformation of the science and practice of HRM, we need to understand the legal, economic, and political influences on the size, structure, roles, operation, and organizational impact of HRM (e.g., Keiser & Ferris, 1997). For HRM scholars, there are multitudes of interesting questions to ask and research streams to develop and pursue, some of which we have suggested in this review. We have perhaps never witnessed more intellectually stimulating times in this field than the present, and it encourages (no, demands!) creative, innovative, uninhibited, and nonlinear thinking if we are to make significant contributions to new knowledge, and truly develop a more informed understanding of HRM. For HRM practitioners, the profession offers exciting opportunities to make a difference. Yet continually challenging the practitioners are the escalating demands by organizations that HRM (and all functional areas, for that matter) be accountable and demonstrate tangible and quantifiable bottom-line impact. It will be a demanding yet rewarding occupation, but clearly not for the timid and faint of heart. Organizations of the past tolerated the HRM professional who was largely seen as a compassionate confidant to employees, and one who carried the JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
  26. 26. G.R. FERRIS ET AL. 409 watermelon to the company picnic, and visited the sick, lame, and lazy. To truly be a strategic business partner, professionals must anticipate and articulate both the key HRM opportunities and challenges, and step up as the internal expert to proactively enact (not simply react to) their environments, embrace and lead change, and demonstrate how HRM is, indeed, the source of sustained competi- tive advantage. It has become clear to us that in truly progressive organizations in the future, HRM will not be merely viewed as a set of policies and practices, nor will it be defined as just a department or function. Instead, in such effective organizations (e.g., perhaps those identified as “Human Resource Champions,” by Ulrich, 1997), HRM will be a “mentality” or way of thinking, so pervasive that it is interwoven into the very fabric of organizations, and integral to all of its decisions and actions. But indeed, this is a choice to be made by organizations, and one that involves a considerable investment in its human resources, where we know there are competing pressures (Harrell-Cook & Ferris, 1997). Will organizations make the tough choice, and strive to be purveyors of excellence, or the easier one, and settle for being merchants of mediocrity? We shall see. References Adelberg, S., & Batson, C. 1978. Accountability and helping: When needs exceed resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36: 343–350. Ancona, D. G., & Caldwell, D. F. 1992. Demography and design: Predictors of new product team performance. Organizational Science, 3: 321–341. Appelbaum, E., & Batt, R. 1994. The new American workplace: Transforming work systems in the United States. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press. Arthur, J. 1994. Effects of human resource systems on manufacturing performance and turnover. Academy of Management Journal, 37: 670 – 687. Arvey, R. D., Bhagat, R. S., & Salas, E. 1991. Cross-cutural and cross-national issues in personnel and human resources management. In G. R. Ferris & K. M. Rowland (Eds.), Research in personnel and human resources management, vol. 9: 76 –98. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. Arvey, R. D., Renz, G. L., & Watson, T. W. 1998. Emotionality and job performance: Implications for personnel selection. In G. R. Ferris (Ed.), Research in personnel and human resources management, vol. 16: 103–147. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. Ballen, K. 1992. America’s most admired corporations. Fortune, 125: 40 –72. Barney, J. 1991. Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17: 99 –120. Barney, J. 1995. Looking inside for competitive advantage. Academy of Management Executive, 9: 49 – 81. Becker, B., & Gerhart, B. 1996. The impact of human resources management on organizational performance: Progress and prospects. Academy of Management Journal, 39: 779 – 801. Belkaoui, A. R., & Pavlik, E. L. 1992. Accounting for corporate reputation. Westport, CT: Quorum Books. Borman, W. C., & Motowidlo, S. J. 1993. Expanding the criterion domain to include elements of contextual performance. In N. Schmitt & W. C. Borman (Eds.), Personnel selection in organizations: 71–98. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Brief, A. P., & Motowidlo, S. J. 1986. Prosocial organizational behaviors. Academy of Management Review, 11: 710 –725. Brief, A. P., Dukerich, J. M., & Doran, L. I. 1991. Resolving ethical dilemmas in management: Experimental investigations of values, accountability, and choice. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 21: 380 –396. Brown, C. W., & Ghiselli, E. E. 1952. Industrial psychology. In C. P. Stone & D. W. Taylor (Eds.), Annual review of psychology, vol. 3: 205–232. Stanford, CA: Annual Reviews, Inc. Buckley, M. R., Ferris, G. R., Bernardin, H. J., & Harvey, M. G. 1998. The disconnect between the science and practice of management. Business Horizons, 41: 31–38. Butler, J. E., Ferris, G. R., & Napier, N. K. 1991. Strategy and human resources management. Cincinnati: South-Western. Carnevale, P. J. 1985. Accountability of group representatives and intergroup relations. In E. J. Lawler (Ed.), Advances in group processes: 227–248. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT, VOL. 25, NO. 3, 1999 Downloaded from at Middlesex University on December 7, 2007 © 1999 Southern Management Association. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.