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What is Human Resource Strategy? In your view, is it a process, an outcome or a set of activities?

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Table of Contents: Cover Page Page1 Table of Contents Page 2 Introduction Page 3 The Emergence of HRS: A rationale Pages 4&5 The Value of HRS Page 5 Approaches to HRS: The Universalist Approach Page 6 The Contingency Approach Pages 6&7 Strategy Types: "Hard" Page 7 "Soft" Page 7 Concept of Fit: Job-person Fit Page 8 Strategic Fit Page 8 Competitive Potential Page 8 Conclusion Page 9 Bibliography Page 10 Q: What is Human Resource Strategy? In your view, is it a process, an outcome or a set of activities? Introduction: This essay attempts to answer the question "What is Human Resource Strategy?" In answering this question, relevant literature studied during the last term will be used as references and will include a rationale for the emergence of Human Resource Strategy, (hereafter abbreviated as HRS) and the value of HRS. Thirdly, a brief description of the differing approaches to HRS will be discussed. Following this, HRS strategy types will be outlined. The concept of "fit" will also be described briefly. Finally, this essay will conclude with my own personal definition of HRS, with views based on a review of the literature read during this term. In the recent past, many authors have written around the topic of Human Resource strategy and have differing perspectives on the actual definition. Tyson (1995), gives a general but somewhat limited definition of HRS when he suggests that it is; "the intentions of the corporation both explicit and covert, toward the management of its employees, expressed through philosophies, policies and practices". ...read more.


By focussing on individual or specific goals of the Human Resource department, rather than on the overall business goal, firms are in danger of underachieving and becoming uncompetitive. Approaches to HRS: Within the area of strategic human resource management, it can be said that there are varying ideas/approaches to HRS, despite the fact that literature relating to this area is relatively recent, with the first academic works published in the 1980's. Outlined below are what I feel the two most significant approaches to HRS, as discussed by Delery & Doty (1996): The Universalistic Approach: This approach, sometimes referred to as the "best practice approach", suggests that a single approach/focus to Human Resource Management, which is always best compared to others, should be implemented by all organisations in all situations, regardless of varying factors such as goals of the organisation, economic position, size, etc. An emphasis on teamwork, communication and individual performance is placed. This approach implies that certain human resource strategies are universal across organisations. In my opinion, I do not believe that Universalist strategies necessarily are of any benefit. In general, HR strategies may need to be quite different for organisations in different industries, economic position and those who effect change by different means. As Stace & Dunphy (1991 p.264) state, "Universalist solutions in HR Strategy and practice are probably inappropriate." The Contingency Approach: Also known as a "situation-based" approach, the contingency approach suggests that Human Resource policies and practices will be effective if they are consistent with other aspects of the organisation, mainly the business strategy of the organisation. ...read more.


In today's business world, competitive potential is becoming the most used model/period of fit, due to the increase in technology-based business, etc, where knowledgeable, highly skilled human resources are premium and key to competitive advantage. Conclusion: During the introduction, and throughout the course of this essay, I have attempted to show how my definition of HRS: a set of processes and activities can be justified by evidence from HRS literature. I believe the strategic alignment between HRS and the overall business strategy of the firm and the competitive potential period of fit is crucial to the success of a company in the business world today. I have asserted a rationale for the emergence and the value of HRS and how these rationales can be used to show that HRS is a set of processes and activities, with strategy undefined but emergent. I also conveyed how the contingency approach to HRS best fit with my own definition of HRS - I believe that matching management processes to the changing needs of the business organisation is crucial. An emergent strategy by definition will change with the business environment. By describing the differing approaches to HRS, soft and hard types of HRS and the concept of "fit", I have attempted to convey that my definition of HRS is purely that - my definition. Many definitions of HRS exist in academic literature today, and all are valid in context. However, in my opinion, my definition best describes Human Resource Strategy as I see it - a set of processes and activities, which when implemented result in a particular outcome. ...read more.

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