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Human Resource Management in Australia: Strategy, People, Performance
Helen De Cieri, Monash University
Robin Kramar, Macquarie University
Raymond A. Noe, Ohio State University
John R. Hollenbeck, Michigan State University- East Lansing
Barry Gerhart, University of Wisconsin- Madison
Patrick M. Wright, Cornell University- Ithaca

About this Book

Our strategic approach to HRM

We believe that the way in which people are managed is vital for the creation and sustainability of any organisation's long term value. Organisational value refers not only to financial outcomes but also employee and customer satisfaction, innovation and social and environmental responsibility. In our view, all human resource management (HRM) activities need to work together in order for the HRM function to help the organisation create value. Further, the HRM function should be developed and used to support business goals and objectives. That is, effective HRM is strategic! In other words, it is at the core of the relationship between strategy, people and performance.

This book is an adaptation of the International Edition written by Raymond Noe, John Hollenbeck, Barry Gerhart and Patrick Wright.Those authors did a wonderful job in providing a text that captures the key theoretical, empirical and practical developments and issues in HRM.Their text provided a solid foundation for us to build a text that is relevant to the contemporary HRM scene in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.We have adopted the major themes of the International Edition and introduced new features to address the challenges pertinent in our local context.

Key themes in this text

The text addresses three key categories of challenges faced by organisations today:

The challenge to compete on a global basis
We are in the midst of global restructuring of the world's markets. For organisations to survive, they must compete in international markets as well as deal with challenges in the Australian domestic market. Many Australian organisations are seeking to develop global markets, use their practices to improve global competitiveness, and better prepare employees for global assignments.To be successful in the global marketplace, a major challenge for all organisations (regardless of size) is to understand cultural differences and to invest in human resources.

The challenge to meet stakeholders' needs
Organisational value is largely determined by whether the company satisfies the needs of stakeholders. Stakeholders include stockholders, customers, the community and employees. Companies that do not meet stakeholders' needs are unlikely to have a competitive advantage over other firms in their industry.

Many decisions related to HRM seek to balance the interests of various stakeholders; this may lead to uncertainty and ethical dilemmas for managers. Hence, many leading organisations are emphasising ethics as part of their strategy for conducting business. Throughout the book we will highlight ethical dilemmas in HRM practices.

The challenge to develop high-performance work systems
Australian organisations seeking to compete in global markets need to learn to better utilise employees' talents and skills and new technology. A major challenge that many organisations face is how to integrate technology and the supporting infrastructure to gain a competitive advantage-that is, competing through high-performance work systems. High-performance work systems maximise the fit between the company's social system (employees) and its technical system.These systems also seek to maximise the 'fit' between the company's social system (employees) and its technical system (including information, technology and work).

We believe that organisations must successfully deal with these three challenges to create and sustain value, and effective HRM is crucial to this process. Central to the text is the three-way linkage between strategy, people and performance. Each chapter discusses the strategic developments in each HR area and emphasises HRM as a means of creating value and helping organisations sustain a competitive advantage.

Features of this text

  • Each chapter reflects the most significant and most recent academic research and organisational practices in HRM. Up-to-date examples are provided throughout each chapter.

  • Chapter-opening case studies provide examples of practical HRM issues facing Australian organisations. Some of these case studies highlight organisations that have been recognised for their effective HR approaches. Others describe strategies that organisations have developed to deal with HRM challenges.

  • Each chapter contains boxes featuring practical examples of organisations meeting the three key challenges 'Competing through Globalisation', 'Competing by Meeting Stakeholders' Needs' and 'Competing through High-Performance Work Systems'.

  • 'HRM Spotlight' boxes provide the most current practical examples available of organisations introducing innovative HR strategies, or encountering new and emerging problems.

  • At the end of each chapter, a 'Managing People' case provides an in-depth assessment of an HRM-related problem encountered by an organisation.The case questions require students to critically evaluate the problems presented and to apply the chapter content to analyse the case.

  • Discussion questions at the end of each chapter help students to learn the concepts covered in the chapter and to consider different viewpoints in addressing the HRM issues encountered.

  • Web exercises encourage students to use the Internet to explore the latest developments in HRM and to gain access to experts in a particular area of HRM.

Addressing the needs of academics, students and managers

This book aims to provide undergraduate and graduate students with fundamental knowledge about HRM. It will be useful for those who want to become successful HR professionals and for those people responsible for managing people. For managers who have personal responsibility for the design, implementation and maintenance of HRM practices, or are working with HR professionals, we believe that the book will provide the ability to identify effective HRM. Our intention is to emphasise effective ways to manage people and the issues most likely to be faced in current HR practice.

The text takes a more intellectual and practical approach to HRM than competing books, paying a lot more attention to empirical research and local examples. It addresses the real world complexities and challenges for HRM in Australia by providing local examples and the outcomes of current Australian research.Written by experts in their field with strong research, teaching and industry backgrounds, this text successfully explains through illustration and reinforces the link between concepts and critical thinking.

The book contains five parts:

Part 1 provides an introduction to the field of HRM and the environment faced by employees and employers in Australia.The ways in which HRM can help organisations to meet the key global, stakeholder and work systems challenges are introduced. Key environmental forces include the organisation's strategic approach and legal constraints.

Part 2 deals with the elements related to building HRM systems: the type of work to be performed, HR planning, HR information systems and staffing the organisation.

Part 3 covers HR activities related to the development of employees: diversity management and work-life balance, performance management and employee learning, and development and career management.

Part 4 addresses issues of rewarding employees, including the design of pay structures and performance-related pay systems.

Part 5 covers directions for the HRM field, including managing a global workforce, managing employee retention and turnover, and evaluating and assessing the HR function.

In the process of preparing this book, we built on our own experience and insights from students, colleagues and professional networks, by seeking input from academics around Australia.This has provided us with invaluable ideas that we have endeavoured to incorporate into the book. For example, HRM unit syllabi from universities across Australia gave us an idea of the priorities and objectives. We also designed the book structure to most closely match the approach taken in the majority of HRM units around the country. For example, we noted that the majority did not have a week of classes devoted to the topic of occupational health and safety. Where this topic was covered, it was most often linked to the (legal) context for HRM.Therefore, we have adopted this approach in Chapter 3. For those of us who choose to give occupational health and safety more prominence in our units, we have included substantial coverage of this topic, including a strategic framework for occupational health and safety management.We also noted that 'Ethics and HRM' is a topic that many academics include in their unit syllabi as a theme rather than as a separate lecture. Therefore, we have adopted this approach throughout the text, particularly with regard to the major challenge of meeting stakeholders' needs.We believe that this approach signifies the importance of an approach to HRM that places ethical behaviour as a high priority.

Innovations in this book

Our intent is to balance our attention to current academic knowledge and practice with discussion of emerging areas for HRM.

  • In several chapters, including Chapter 1, we have expanded coverage of theoretical perspectives to provide students with a more comprehensive knowledge base for HRM.

  • Recognising the increasingly strategic role of the HR function, we have expanded the chapter covering strategic HRM (Chapter 2) and incorporated material addressing strategic linkages for the topics covered in each chapter. In this way, strategic HRM is introduced early and integrated throughout the book.

  • Chapters 3 (The Legal Context for Human Resource Management) and 7 (Industrial Relations, authored by Julian Teicher and Bernadine Van Gramberg) are entirely new, to address the issues relevant to the Australian HR environment.

  • We address the increasing importance of information technology in two major ways. First, we provide substantial discussion of human resource information systems in Chapter 5. Second, issues related to information technology are raised throughout the text, to highlight aspects relevant to particular HRM activities.

  • Chapter 8 is focused on the management of workforce diversity and work-life balance, recognising the importance of these areas in the Australian and Asia-Pacific context.

  • Chapters 10 and 11 provide a strong focus on employee learning and career management, often cited as key knowledge areas required for HR professionals.

  • Chapter 14, contributed by Peter Dowling, provides analysis of international HRM issues. Peter's coverage of this area extends into the strategic arena, beyond the expatriate focus taken in most HRM texts.

  • Chapter 15, on employee retention and turnover, is expanded from the U.S. version. Reflecting the increasing awareness of these issues in HRM, we have provided greater coverage of this area than is seen in many existing texts.

  • Chapter 16 explores methods of evaluating and assessing the HR function. This chapter draws on the most recent research and trends in HR metrics.

  • Throughout the book, we have endeavoured to highlight current and emerging trends that have significant implications for HRM. Hence, issues such as workforce downsizing, outsourcing of HR activities, and practical applications of the balanced scorecard are addressed in several chapters.

Helen De Cieri
Robin Kramar