It is often stated that HR deals with the problem not the cause of the problem – please explain why this may or may not be true. 250-350 words, no cover page needed. Please limit the citations. What is the difference between a person doing the daily operations of a human resource function versus the role of a strategic human resource partner? At what level in the organization do you become strategic?Compare and contrast the role of a strategic Human Resource Partner in a national and global organization. Booth, B. A. (2001). Assuming the strategic business partner role: The transformation of human resources. (Order No. 9995152, Cornell University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 114-114 p. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304690764?accountid=8289(304690764). Choo, S. S., Halim, H., & Keng-Howe, I. (2010). THE IMPACT OF GLOBALISATION ON STRATEGIC HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT: THE MEDIATING ROLE OF CEO IN HR. International Journal of Business Studies, 18(1), 101-124. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/821544392?accountid=8289
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UMI Number. 9995152
Copyright 2001 by
Booth, Bryan Arthur
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ASSUMING TH E STRATEGIC BUSINESS PARTNER ROLE:
THE TRANSFORM ATION O F H U M A N RESOURCES
A D issertation
P resented to th e Faculty of th e G radu ate School
of C ornell U niversity
in P artial F ulfillm ent o f the R equirem ents for th e D egree of
D octor of P hilosophy
by
Bryan A rth u r Booth
January 2001
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© 2001 Bryan A rthur Booth
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BIO G RA PH ICA L SK ETCH
A fter a co ntented a n d form ative life in th e sm all to w n o f M ansfield PA ,
Bryan em barked o n h is academ ic journey to G annon U niversity in E rie, PA in
th e late su m m er o f 1974. H e p lan n ed to continue h is sp o rts career in soccer,
b u t once a t G annon h e fou nd a psychology P rofessor nam ed D r. K enneth
G am ble w ho in sp ired him to consider th a t ed ucation m ay actually b e m ore
in teresting th a n sports. A fter g rad u atin g w ith a BA in Psychology in 1978, h e
honed h is psychology skills w orking w ith juvenile d elin q u en ts for 11 years.
D uring his first career, as h e now calls it, h e learn ed a g reat d eal a b o u t the
psychology o f th e ind iv id u al, th e group, a n d th e organization. T his led h im to
fu rth er his ed u catio n goal by earn in g a 15 cred it “m anagem ent certificate”
from C ornell. T hen it w as back to his w ork o n th e m anagem ent sid e o f carin g
for juvenile d elin q u en ts o r so h e thought. P rofessor L eopold G runfeld a n d
Professor T ove H am m er, tw o of his professors in th e certificate pro gram , h a d
other ideas a n d suggested he atten d C ornell’s In d u strial an d L abor School as a
full-tim e g rad u ate stud en t. H e com pleted his M asters o f Science in
O rganizational B ehavior in January 1992 an d th en w as o ff to G erm any for 15
m onths, teach ing E nglish an d lecturing a t the B usiness d ep artm en t a t th e
U niversity o f S tu ttgart. U pon his retu rn from G erm any to C ornell, Bryan
p u rsu ed h is doctorate in O rganizational Behavior. O nce h is “A ” exam w as
com pleted, h e accepted a full-tim e assistant p rofessor p o sitio n a t
S hippensburg U niversity th a t often com peted w ith h is thesis w ritin g for th ree
years.
ill
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I d ed icate this thesis to m y w ife K atharina I. Boser for h er in sp iratio n
over all th ese y ears. She h as been a role m odel, a n d m y n um b er one
su p p o rter. B est o f all she has opened m y eyes to m y potential.
iv
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ACKNOW LEDGM ENTS
I w an t to th a n k th e m em bers o f m y com m ittee, Lee D yer, D av y d d J.
G reenw ood, an d W illiam J. S onnenstuhl for their patience a n d su p p o rt. T hey
u n d ersto o d die p ressu res of try in g to w ork full-tim e an d finish th is thesis.
T hey have also p ro v id ed th e n eed ed “p u sh ” a t various tim es to encourage m e
to n o t lose m y focus. I w an t to th an k Bob H ollander for h elp in g m e so rt
th ro u g h th e en tire process of w ritin g a dissertation thesis. H is h e lp w as
invaluable. I w a n t to th an k D r. O tm ar an d R uth Boser for th e ir faith in m e.
Lastly, I w an t to th an k m y p aren ts W ickham and Patricia Booth. T hey
instilled in m e th e valu es to in qu ire ab o u t th e w orld aro u n d m e, to ap preciate
a n d to b etter u n d ersta n d the h u m an interactions w e encounter. T hey also
encouraged m e to striv e to accom plish m y best in w hatever I d id . W ith out
th eir value system to guide m e, I w ou ld n o t have entered th e field o f
organizational behavior.
v
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
IN T R O D U C T IO N .____________________________________________________ 1
T rad itio n al a n d Strategic H um an R esources……………………………………………….. 2
O ccupational C ontrol…………………………………………………………………………………….4
H u m an Resources: A M ultiple-Role M odel…………………………………………………. 5
H isto rical Perspective of the H um an Resource O ccu patio n…………………………9
I. A p pro priatio n Period (1880’s ->W W I)…………………………………………………10
n . W orld W ar I P e rio d …………………………………………………………………………… 11
HI. The G reat D epression P eriod……………………………………………………………. 13
IV. W orld W ar H and the 1950’s P eriod…………………………………………………..14
V. C om pliance Period (1960’s an d 1970’s)…………………………………………….. 15
VI. “V alue-A dded” Period (1980’s an d early 1990’s)…………………………….. 18
V II. Strategic P artner Period (Early 1990’s to P resent)…………………………… 19
Influences on the H um an Resource O ccupation:
E xternal o r Internal Forces?………………………………………………………………………… 20
M E T H O D O L O G Y ___________________________________________________22
W hy APM ?…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 22
A uto P arts M anufacturing B ackground………………………………………………………23
D ata S o u rces……………………………………………………………. ;………………………………. 25
S am p le…………………………………………………………………………………………………………26
P ro c ed u res…………………………………………………………………………………………………. 27
A nalysis of D a ta ………………………………………………………………………………………….28
E lem ents o f C onstant C om parative M e th o d ……………………………………………… 30
C oncept-Indicator Exam ple………………………………………………………………………… 34
T hree-Stage Process M o d el…………………………………………………………………………35
C onsistency a n d A ccuracy…………………………………………………………………………. 39
R E S U L T S ___________________________________________________________42
A nalytical F ram ew ork……………………………………………………………………………….. 42
O rg anizational Change Process a t A PM ……………………………………………………..43
E ven t #1—Q uality C ircles…………………………………………………………………………..43
B eginning Stage-Exogenous P ressures…………………………………………………….43
M iddle Stage-Endogenous P ressu res………………………………………………………46
E nd Stage—Institutionalized S tructures, Processes an d B ehaviors……….. 47
Roles o f H um an Resource M anagers……………………………………………………48
E vent #2—”Professionalization of H R ” ………………………………………………………51
B eginning Stage-Exogenous P ressures…………………………………………………….51
M iddle Stage-Endogenous P ressu res………………………………………………………53
E nd Stage—Institutionalized S tructures, Processes an d B ehaviors……….. 57
Roles of H um an Resource M anagers……………………………………………………59
E vent #3— “W orld Class M an u factu rin g “……………
63
B eginning Stage-Exogenous P ressures…………………………………………………….63
M iddle Stage-Endogenous P ressu res………………………………………………………64
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E nd Stage—In stitu tio n alized S tructures, Processes a n d B ehaviors……….. 68
Roles o f H um an R esource M anagers…………………………………………………… 69
H isto ry o f H ead co u n t…………………………………………………………………………………..71
H ead co u n t S to ry …………………………………………………………………………………………. 74
S um m ary……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 76
D IS C U S SIO N ________________________________________________________78
In stitu tio n al T h eo ry ……………………………………………………………………………………..78
Isom orphic C h an g e…………………………………………………………………………………. 79
C oercive……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 80
M im etic………………………………………………………………………………………………….81
N o rm ativ e……………………………………………………………………………………………. 81
S trategic R ational C hoice……………………………………………………………………………..82
T oggle Process M odel o f C hange…………………………………………………………………84
Isom orphic an d R ational Forces……………………………………………………………….84
In stitu tio n alized S tru ctu res, Processes an d B ehaviors…………………………….86
C on tribu tion s to th e F ie ld ……………………………………………………………………………87
FUTURE RESEA RCH _________________________________________________89
Q u e stio n s……………………………………………………………………………………………………..90
REFERENCES________________________________________________________91
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LIST OF FIGURES
F igure 1 .1 ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 6
F igure 2 .1 ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 32
F igure 2 .2 ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 35
F igure 3 .1 ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 50
F igure 3 .2 ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 60
F igure 3 .3 ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 70
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IN TR O D U C TIO N
Sociological researchers have p ro vided scant inform ation o n h o w
b u sin ess occupations like h u m an resources increase th eir influence w ith in an
o rg an izatio n al setting a n d th e effect this has o n d ie org an ization a n d th e
occupation. I argue die transform ation of th e role of h u m an resources to
strateg ic business p artn er is a com plex m ulti-stage process an d h u m an
reso u rce m anagers (both inten tion ally an d unintentionally) influence th eir
o w n transform ation to strategic business partners. I contend th a t th is process
o f dev elo p in g a new organizational role for h um an resources m ay n o t be as
ratio n a l a n d linear as suggested in previous research (A ldrich a n d Pfeffer
1976; Pfeffer an d S alandk 1978). In this ethnographic stu d y , I explore the
n a tu re o f th is change by illu stratin g how h um an resource m anagers w ere able
to becom e strategic business p artn ers w ith in one com pany: A uto P arts
M a n u fa ctu rin g 1 (APM).
In th is chapter, I w ill define an d disting uish betw een trad itio n al a n d
strateg ic h u m an resources. I w ill discuss h ow h u m an resources as an
o ccu p atio n entrenched in organizations, m u st struggle w ith o ther b usiness
occupations for control of th eir occupation’s know ledge a n d skills. I w ill
p re se n t a m ultiple-role m odel for hum an resource m anagers an d explain how
th e know ledge an d skills in these roles have developed o v er th e m ore th an 100
y ears o f th e occupation’s history. Lastly, I w ill briefly in tro du ce influences o n
th e h u m a n resource occupation an d the effect those influences m ay h av e h ad
o n th e transform ation to a strategic business p artn er role.
1 Auto Parts Manufacturing (APM) is a pseudonym for a company with headquarters located
in Northeast United States.
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2
T rad itio n al an d S trategic H u m an R esources
Li un d erstan d in g w h at strategic hum an resources is, one m u st first
d istin g u ish strategic h um an resources from w hat is now being called
“trad itio n al”2 h um an resources (U lrich 1997). In strategic h u m a n resources,
strategies are business-driven a n d focus o n organizational effectiveness.
People are view ed as assets a n d as resources to m anage. T raditio nal h u m an
resources em phasized in d iv id u al hum an resource outcom es (turnover,
satisfaction, an d perform ance) th ro u g h hum an resource p rog ram s a n d
practices (M ahoney an d D eckop 1986). Explanations differ concerning the
m eaning of strategic an d trad itio n al hum an resources. T rad ition al hu m an
resource program s an d practices w ere seen as separate a n d in isolation from
each other. Strategic h u m an resources stresses broad, contingency-based an d
integrative hum an resource approaches (Dyer and H older 1988; Becker an d
G erhart 1996).
A s hum an resources h as changed from traditional prescriptive m odels
of h u m an resources to a strategic perspective, so have th e roles of h um an
resource m anagers changed. A t this point, w e know little ab o u t h ow h u m an
resource m anagers enact th is new role, h i a study across d iv erse ind ustries
(health care, financial services, m anufacturing, public utilities, a n d chem icals)
a m ajor finding w as th a t h u m an resource m anagers’ n eed ed to becom e
strategic business partners so th a t hum an resources becom es a “v alu ed
ad d ed ” function to the com pany (N JH R PG 1996). O ne w ay h u m an resource
m anagers becom e strategic business partners is being p a rt of th e top
2 The use o f die term traditional comes from the researchers and practitioners in the field of
human resource management. Traditional, in general, is viewed as w hat was normally
practiced in the past in managing human resources in organizations prior to die major
changes in the occupation that occurred in the 1980’s and 1900’s.
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3
m an ag em ent decision m aking b y determ ining hum an resource program s th a t
h av e strateg ic influence o n th e bu siness. H ow ever, those h u m a n resource
m anagers w ho have n o t becom e strateg ic business p artn ers a re try in g to have
th e ir claim s of being a legitim ate business p artn er an d a d d in g v alu e to the
o rg an izatio n accepted b y to p m anagem ent. T hose m anagers w h o have been
successful in attaining th is new sta tu s of strategic business p a rtn e r have
convinced to p m anagem ent th ey possess know ledge an d h u m a n resource
system s th a t w ould benefit d ie o rg an izatio n ‘s perform ance. T his increased
influence a n d status o f h u m an resource m anagers indicates th e re su lt of
efforts b y th e hum an resource occupation to gain m ore in p u t in to th e business
aspects o f organizations—som ething th a t has historically b een lacking (Jacoby
1985; K aufm ann 1993; D yer an d B urdick 1998). This new ro le, if totally
fulfilled, m ay infringe o n th e influence of o ther business occupations in
finance, m arketing, sales, engineering, an d production to con trol th e in p u t of
th e strateg ic business process w ith in th e com pany. In som e cases hum an
resources h as n o t asp ired to this n ew role b u t has been p ressu red b y top
m anagem ent to create m ore v alu e to a n organization’s perform ance (D yer
1995; N JH R P G 1996). This leaves h u m an resources stru g g lin g to find hum an
resource system s th at affect th e ov erall perform ance of th eir com pany. In
eith er situ atio n , hum an resources m u st change how , a n d in w h a t
circum stances, they in teract w ith th e o ther occupations th a t m ake u p an
o rg anization. This change in th e sp h ere of influence of h u m an resources has
n o t b een fully understood in th e o verall context of an o rg an izatio n an d the
o th er occupations w ithin it.
Briefly review ing business occupations an d their attem p ts a t
controlling th eir ow n occupation p rov ides som e background o n how a
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4
business occu pation such as h u m an resources could tran sform itself a n d
obtain m ore influence w ith th e other occupations in th e organization.
O ccu p atio n al C ontrol
T he P re-Indu strial R evolution craftsm en in the U n ited S tates
m ain tain ed th eir ow n system of occupational control o f th eir w ork . A s th e
In d u strial R evolution took hold , they …
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