1. IntroductionThis student-oriented text provides a comprehensive coverage of the field of human resourcemanagement (HRM). The author contends that the book’s distinctiveness is framed around theconnection between HRM and the business context in all its guises. As such, it discusses HRM atdifferent levels: environmental; organisational; strategic and operational (Pate, 2005).Human resource is the most crucial asset of an organization. The successful performance of anorganization, by and large depend upon the quality of its human resources. The quality of organization’shuman resources depends upon the extent of knowledge through training and education they havereceived and their motivational level. Organizations want to utilize their manpower through humanresources management (Mohammed, Bhatti, & Jariko, 2000)It is also important to understand the strategic HRM before looking at the books layout, as the bookspecifically mentioned linking strategy and practices. In the 1980s, original writers in the area of humanresource management (HRM), Beer (1984), stressed that in the face of increasing internationalcompetition, organisations had to focus on the value of investments in human resources as a majorsource of competitive advantage. More recently the rise in the status of knowledge workers hashighlighted the focus on human resources as the key to organisational productivity (Tovstiga, 1999).Strategic human resource management (SHRM) has received a great deal of attention in recent years,most notably in the fields of human resource management (HRM), organizational behaviour, andindustrial relations(Chadwick, 2005)2. AuthorsThe author of the book, Greg L.Stewart is an associate professor and Tippie Research Fellow in theHenry B. Tippie Collage of Business at the University of Iowa. He received his Ph.D in HumanResource Management from Arizona State University and has been a faculty member at VanderbiltUniversity and Brigham Young University. His research has been published in top academic journals,
including the Journals of Applied Psycology, Personnel Psycology, Acedamy of Management Journaland Organizational Science. He has taught human resource management courses to undergraduate, MBAand Executive MBA students. He has also taught in international programmes, focusing on the regionsof South America and Hong Kong. He has worked with a variety of large and small organizations,including Eli Lily, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Veterans HealthAdministration.The Co-Author of the book is Kenneth G.Brown, is an Associate Professor and Huneke FacultyResearch Fellow in the Henry B. Tippie Collage of Business at the University of Iowa. He received hisPh.D in industrial and organizational psychology from Michigan State University. He has thoughtcourses in training and career development, organizational behaviour and general management toundergraduate, MBA and Ph.D students. His work using experimental learning was recognised for theinaugural Academy of Management Human Resource Division Innovative Teaching Award in 2006 andfor the 2007 Iowa Campus Compact Faculty Award. He has published articles in Human ResourceManagement ang Organizational Behaviour for both academic and applied audience. His academic workappears in such top journals as Journal of applied psychology, Personnel Management, andOrganizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes. His applied work has been published by theAmerican Society of Training and Development in T & D magazine and by the UK-Based CharteredInstitute of Personnel and Development. His consulting clients have included the Ford MotorsCompany, Toyota Motor Credit Corporation, McDonald’s and the University of Iowa (L.Stewart, Greg,2009)3. Target AudienceThis book is orientated to fulfil academic needs in the classroom; framework of the book helps studentsnot only to develop a set of human resource tools but also to know when each tool is most appropriate.The overall objective of the book is to provide students with the understanding of traditional humanresource concept and the framework of decision making when specific practices can be most beneficial.
The link between strategy and practices is necessary for students to be able to correctly apply humanresource tools to improve organization.4. HRM ApproachesThe HRM approaches will be used as an instrument to analyse and critique this book. Using theapproaches provides a platform to look at the point of view of the authors perspectives on each topic.Four perspectives have been defined in the SHRM literature. The terminology presented by Jackson(1989), Brewster (1995) and Delery and Doty (1996). We have respectively the Universalisticperspective, the Contingent point of view, the Configurational approach and the Contextual outlook.Those four "modes of theorizing"represent fourdifferent approaches to the same research question, eachof them emphasizing a specific dimension ofthe reality of HRM. This criterion allows a complete andsystematic classification of the literature, because the four perspectives together show a spectrum thatencompasses all possible approaches(Martin-alcdzar, Romero-fernandez, & Sdnchez-gardey,2005)Looking at the origin of the ideas mentioned, and matching with the HR practices of United Stateswhere the authors have derived most of their ideas and examples from, it is most appropriate to use thefirst three perspectives, the Universalist perspective, the Configurational perspective, and theContingency perspective which emerged in the U.S. SHRM (Marler, 2012)Universalist ApproachSome authors have adopted a universalistic perspective (cf. Dewar &Werbel, 1979) and argued for a"best practices" approach to SHRM (Delaney, Lewin, &Ichniowski, 1989) these researchers, like manymicro-level HR researchers, posit that some HR practices are always better than others and that allorganizations should adopt these best practicesContingency Approach
Contingency theorists argue that, in order to be effective, an organizations HR policies must beconsistent with other aspects of the organization. For example, contingency theorists have attempted toshow how a number of HR practices are consistent with different strategic positions and how thesepractices relate to firm performance (Balkin& Gomez-Mejia, 1987)Configurational ApproachConfigurational theories differ from universalistic and traditional contingency theories becauseConfigurational theories are guided by the holistic principle of inquiry, are usually based on typologiesof ideal types, and explicitly adopt the systems assumption of "equifinality" (Doty, Glick, & Huber,1993)5. Summary of the Book ContentsThe authors have subdivided the content of the book into four main chapters, namely Part One Seeingpeople as strategic resource, Part Two Securing effective employee, Part Three Improving employeeperformance and Part Four Motivating and managing employee.In part one the authors divided three chapters, creating value through human resource, making humanresource management strategic and ensuring equal employment opportunity. Part one is very muchaligned to Configurational perspective. This perspective suggests that a configuration of a set ofinternally aligned HRM practices will have a much greater ability to explain variation in organizationalperformance than single HRM practices taken in isolation (Delery, 1996).As mentioned by Delery (1996), the part one of the book is arranged very much in a manner to allow aninteraction between various internally consistent configurations of HR practices, or employmentsystems, which maximize horizontal fit, and then link these employment systems to alternative strategicconfigurations to maximize vertical fit. The chapters in part one move from various functions of HR, forexample current trends of HR discussed in chapter one looks at the relations between population trend,labour force trend, employment trend and trends in education and training.
Part Two of the book looks at Securing Effective Employee; the authors have divided into four chaptersnamely, designing productive and satisfying work, recruiting talented employees, selecting employeeswho fit and managing employee retention and separation. Part two is very much aligned to Contingencyperspective. The choice of HRM practices and the relationship these practices have with organizationalperformance depends on external environmental factors as well as on organizational factors, primarilythe strategies the organization formulates and deploys to successfully adapt to a changing externalenvironment (Galbraith, 1973)Contingency theory a little bit more evolved and holistic compared to the Configurational theoryactually correlates external factors and internal factors to the success of the HR functions, and in parttwo the authors have included the effects of external and internal factors for various developments ofHR in the organization. For example in recruiting process the authors have included internal referral,internal advertising, internal recruitment and also external intakes and advertisements. In part two theauthors have also included training and development based on internal and external situations andtrends.Part three, Improving employee performance, the authors have subdivided the section into threechapter, namely measuring performance and providing feedback, training and improved performance,and developing employees and their careers. This part is aligned to contingency approach as well. Theorganizations strategy is considered to be the primary contingency factor in the SHRM literature. Thus,a contingency perspective requires a researcher to select a theory of firm strategy and then specify howthe individual HR practices will interact with firm strategy to result in organizationalperformance(Delery& Doty, 1996)As discussed by Delery& Doty (1996), the authors have managed to incorporate the chapter mainlyfocusing in the Human Resource Development function in HR to the individual needs and haveconstantly emphasised in maintaining individualistic view on the employees. For example the job
appraisal system – even though the authors mention group appraisals as well they are decisively insupport of individual appraisal and training.Part four of the book looks at motivating and managing employee, the authors have divided this part into four chapters, motivating employee through compensation, designing compensation and benefitpackage, working effectively with labour and aligning strategy with practices. This part of the book istaking a Universalist approach. The statement suggesting that the relationship between HRM practiceand organizational performance occurs, no matter the context in which an organization operates, is whatseparates this mode of theorizing in SHRM from the others(Marler, 2012).This part of the book involves compensation and employee-labour relations function of HR. The authorshave taken a very simple lead by using universalist theory, they have significantly mentioned HR as asole department of the organization controlling and manning the functions of the organization, withoutinterference from other functions of the organization. For example compensation through Job based payand Skill Based pay, where the training and development plays a major role in deciding the pay of theemployee. The authors have clearly indicated the role of HR as the lead player.6. StrengthsThe book is Practice Orientated, as promised by the title of the book itself – Linking strategy topractice. The authors in each chapter have listed have given example situation titled: “How do weknow”. This situation allows the students to understand better the practical implications of the lessonsthought in the chapters. And also a section on “Building strengths through HR” is also introduced by theauthorsin these section ideas on how HR can be user friendly, and making the implementation is easy discussedthoroughly.
The book is Student Orientated, as the authors mentioned in the preface of the book the book is targetedfor academic groups, i.e students. The book is arranged according to the HR functions and is explainedwith theories and approaches throughout the book. Apart from theories, the book is well merged withday to day practices of HR in the industry. The book features a few “recall items” to help student, thefeatures include Learning Objectives, Key Terms and Definition, End of section review question, End ofchapter summaries and Discussion question. These features are given at the end of each chapter.The book provides Case Study and clear Analysis, for every chapter. A case study pertaining eachchapter learnt is provided for better understanding of the chapter. The case study is provided withanswers in point form for direct and easy understanding. The cases are elaborate and detailed to allowcritical thinking as well as discussions among students. The book also provides sufficient analysis of theimplementations of styles and approaches thought in academic terms in the industry. There are cases ofbest practices of HR functions in the book.7. WeaknessesThe book is lacking in international appeal, to keep in mind that the book is labelled InternationalEdition. Regarding the case studies provided in the book, are from United States. These examples areinclined to the practices and regulations of the US.The book has missed out in one Human Resource function; the authors have not discussed Safety andHealth in this book. It would be more complete academic package for students if all the HR functionsare looked into thoroughly.The book also compared to other academic writings in the market has no sections or materials onOutlook on future HR developments. HR as an ever evolving field of studies highly tied to the human
behaviour and needs should be given some future thoughts. The author throughout the book focusedonly on well-established practices and theories to explain and discuss HR.8. Suggestions and ImprovementsThe theoretical approach taken to analyse the book shows the author is using most of the HR approachesto discuss his writings. It will be more systematic and easier to understand if the author can establishone approach throughout in the book to discuss all the chapters. Using one approach the author wouldbe able to streamline the topics to be more inclined to one school of thoughts.The international edition book could be easier to understand if the other could provide more localisedexamples and case studies. It would be more user friendly in Asian regions as the American examplesgiven may not be applicable or not even existing in certain parts of the globe. Suggestion to the authorsto provide two cases for every topic. Cases should be a global case which is applicable in most parts anda localized case for more specific regions maybe Asia pacific or by countries even.The book could also open its target audience to industry practitioners. This is because the authorsalready very much provide a very comprehensive examples and very detailed examples. If the authorcould simplify the content to be simpler to access and extract information, this book could be useful tothe practitioners as well.9. ConclusionAs a conclusion the book is very user friendly, precise in most parts. The suggestions provided ifimplemented could provide the book with higher market value and also academic luxury to students.
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