The Abu Dhabi government established the Masdar Institute as an independent and non-profit research-driven graduate university in 2007. The entity is dedicated to the provision of higher education and research in advanced energy and sustainable technologies. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), through partnership initiatives, plays an integral role in the development of the curriculum. Presently, the university operates in collaboration with MIT to develop research and development (R&D) capacity in Abu Dhabi. According to Anderson (2013), the capacity building is meant to address a number of issues that are of importance to the UAE and the region.
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The Masdar Institute is situated in Abu Dhabi, which is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The institution plays a key role in the UAE’s economic diversification. The diversification is realised through the development of a highly skilled human and intellectual capital. The institution intends to be a leader in industry collaboration efforts. Consequently, the university plays a key role in transforming the UAE into a knowledge based economy.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has played an important role in the establishment and development of the institute. According to Arthur and Boyles (2007, p. 87), the two universities have established partnerships on matters touching on research and curriculum development. Other areas of collaboration include student and staff recruitment initiatives. Upon completion of a degree, graduates from Masdar receive certification from the two partnering institutions.
The joint research initiatives are executed through direct one-to-one projects. For instance, the development of the institution’s Doctoral of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Engineering program was based on the MIT curriculum. To this end, faculty members from MIT are selected to sit on the institution’s Research Supervisory Committee. The committee is tasked with the responsibility of assessing Ph.D. students (Arthur & Boyles 2007). The committee also selects a number of Masdar Institute Ph.D. students for an exchange program with MIT.
The University serves as source of innovation and human capital for the region providing qualified students with the opportunity to pursue graduate studies and research in critical areas such as renewable energy, sustainability, environment, water resources, engineering systems and management, advanced materials, among others. The organisation focuses on complex real-world problems that require a multidisciplinary approach for the development of solutions from an integrated technology, systems and policy perspective.
The Institute was officially opened on September 2009 and the first intake of students consisted of 89 students from an initial 1152 application. Presently, the institution is involved with more than 300 research initiatives. For instance, the Solar Beam Down, Innovation Ecosystems and Smart Grids projects are some of the two major research initiatives. Other research ventures include the famous Aviation Biofuels and Carbon Capture & Storage.
One patent has been issued so far, while over 20 applications are pending. In addition, it is noted that 20 invention disclosures are outstanding. Research partnerships have been setup with major multi-national companies like Boeing, IRENA and Toyota Motor Corporation. The institute’s fellowship partners include Imperial College London (UK), RWTH Aachen University (Germany), Tokyo Institute of Technology (Japan), University of Waterloo (Canada), the University of Central Florida (USA), International Renewable Energy Company (IRENA), Toyota Motor Corporation, Siemens, ICT Fund, and others.
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Overview of the Chapter
The discussion in this chapter is meant to provide a foundation for the entire study. To this end, a background into the institution is provided. Details relating to the history and current status of the institution are also presented. The chapter illustrates the objectives of this research undertaking. To this end, the thesis statement is presented based on the problems at the institution. The ultimate purpose of this research proposal is to assess the cause and effect of lack of integration and misalignment of the HR Strategy in the institution.
Status of the organisation in terms of the business cycle
When one refers to the Sisson and Storey’s business life cycle model, it appears that the organisation is currently moving from the start-up phase towards the growth stage (Budhawar & Boyne 2004). The number of faculty members is steadily increasing in the institution. The same applies to the number of research staff and students. Moreover, the organisation’s research partnerships and collaborations have expanded tremendously.
Looking at the overall organisation, one realises that there are three major components that make up its structure. The three are Faculty, Research, and the Administration (Chand & Katou 2007). There is an expansion of the Master and Interdisciplinary PhD program, as well as the increase in number of students. There is a substantial rise in the number of faculty members that are needed to deliver them. Moreover, the organisation is becoming popular locally, regionally, and internationally. There is increased level of awareness regarding the existing and ongoing projects and accomplishments. As a result, many organisations are partnering and collaborating with the entity in the form of new research projects. From Honeywell to Boeing, Emaal, and ADNOC, the number of research projects that are focused on sustainability has tremendously increased. A similar increase is seen in the number of research staff.
When it comes to the administrative employees, a look at the manpower shows that it has been decreasing due to high turnover and general dissatisfaction. The administrative staff members are considered a critical support aspect for the faculty and research divisions of the organisation. Due to this high turnover, the progress of the administrative functions to a growth phase is not as fast as the organisation requires. Administrative functions are understaffed and room for improvement and strategic partnership is not as strong as it should be (Chang & Katou 2007).
Status of the organisation in terms of the life cycle model
An analysis of the Life Cycle Model by Porter makes is it apparent that the organisation has since its inception been working towards the innovation strategy. The move is necessitated by the unique industry and the entity’s line of work. Innovation was deemed a major competency that was a pillar of the organisation’s framework. With this strategy in mind, the organisation’s size remained rather small and the growth in manpower was not visible. The development led to increased workload, which was handled by the existing staff members. It caused stress and demotivation in the workforce. Looking into the administrative functions, innovation strategy is not very visible in terms of its translation into organisational practices, which in turn does not provide the necessary support for the other areas of the Institute.
The various factors of Rosemary Harrison’s model are apparent in the organisation’s strategic aspect. In this regard, one should consider seven main steps, including:
- HR strategic management definition
- Developing a strategic method to develop human resources
- Determining HR management mission
- Respect to culture, structure and HR management,
- Setting HR management aims
- An integrative attitude toward HR strategic management
- A decision on when we need HR strategic management (Chan, Shaffer & Snape 2004).
For the purpose of this research, parts of the above points, such as defining HR strategic management, HR mission, and the strategic approach, are researched and analysed in chapters 3 and 4. The impact of the respect to culture, or lack thereof, and HR management is evident from the interviews conducted. The findings address the challenges and obstacles that are in the organisation.
In addition, the institution is required to factor in the fact that it is an emerging stage. The implication is that which means that it’s experiencing heavy growth and the HR strategy should support it by putting in place certain practices. The table below shows the proposed practices versus the current scenario of the institution.
Table 1: Comparison between the best practices and the current practice.
|Best Practice||Current Practice|
|Heavy Recruitment activities for maximisation of the workforce to absorb the heavy growth||Recruitment has been on hold for about 8 months in the last year due to an internal project that was being completed. Then it was opened a few months back. The rate of recruiting administrative staff is very slow due to the large number of available vacancies, the availability of a limited number of recruiters and the exceptionally high expectations of the line managers.|
|A solid On Boarding and Induction that supports the influx of the new employees||Due to the shortage in HR staff members, a solid on boarding/induction program is not in place. So new joiners have limited information once they start their journey with this institution.|
|Retention initiatives that incorporate employee engagement and participation||This practice has not been prioritised since the inception of the institution and the main focus was on HR Administration. In the last year, there was a huge turnover and then it became evident that this practice is crucial to the retention of the employees and in boosting their morale.|
|Learning and Development opportunities for employees to develop themselves and the functions they are in||Learning and Development is at its infancy and the true understanding of its significance and impact is not clearly appreciated. This may be attributed to the shortage of staff in many of the departments as well as the inability to follow-up on the learning and implementation.|
Putting the HR department into perspective
In order to put the HR Department into perspective, it falls under the Office for Operations and Finance. The main role of the Office for Operations and Finance is to provide a wide range of services for staff, faculty and students to support the Institute’s mission. It manages all fiscal and operational services for student Campus/Housing and financial services/activities including budgeting along with information technology, human resources and business services and procurement (Chang & Huang 2005).
The office also exerts presidential leadership at every level of the institution by negotiating, directing and facilitating substantive progress toward the achievement of Institute-wide goals. It does this by:
- Providing primary support to Institute leadership in identifying, obtaining and allocating the resources needed to achieve the Institute’s mission and the goals and objectives of the Institute’s strategic plan
- Developing and maintaining active relationships with Institute’s units, MIT, industry and academic circles to ensure a positive and effective working environment for the Institute
- Providing oversight to the Institute’s accounting processes, including financial relationships with ADFEC and regulatory relationships with the Department of Finance and Abu Dhabi government
- Interfacing between the President’s Office and Institute departments to facilitate and act on financial and operational actions
- Preparing and managing the budget of the Institute
- Developing and coordinating the Institute’s human resources strategy
- Promoting cooperation and dialogue among staff at all levels of Institute to accomplish the goals of the Institute and its component parts
- Facilitating an atmosphere of partnership and entrepreneurship between and among all organisational elements of the Institute and between the Institute and other entities in such critical areas as education, business and government
- Developing outstanding procedures and policies to safeguard Institute resources.
In 2013, the institute moved to its new campus and has been working to equip, testing, and commissioning its sophisticated labs. Due to the rapid growth of the Institute and lack of space, numerous space optimisation exercises have been conducted maximise the space for 28 to 62 faculty members which is not an ideal situation for a research intensive institution. Despite the economic impact of 2008, continuous resource optimisation exercises and cost-cutting initiatives have helped to avoid a major financial impact on research development due to the unforeseen financial difficulties (Truss 2003).
In such a fast growing environment, the VP Office engaged a Business Performance function that is responsible for facilitating business processes, functions and organisation design. This function operates from The VP Office and its focuses primarily on business requirements, workflow and leveraging technology to enable or alter business processes or practices. It identifies the institutional requirements for human resource, technical and financial support necessary to ensure the consistency of all elements of the institutional structure and layers (Truss 2003).
Analysis of the current business environment is needed to detect critical deficiencies and recommend solutions for improvement and also lead analysis of the technology industry and market trends to determine their potential impact on the Institute. The Institute needs to apply new technology to, and reuse existing technology for, business processes. The objective is to perform research and provide information on technical trends and report the major functions within the division. Such analysis will provide strategic solutions for designing business processes, functions and organisational structures, as well as research, identify and internally market enabling technologies based on the Institute requirements (Wan, Kok & Ong 2002).
It will assess near-term needs, using structured interview processes, to establish business priorities; consulting with technical subject matter experts and develop alternative technical solutions and advising on options, risks, costs vs. benefits and impacts on other business processes and system priorities. Due to the success of the its role in the EU-GCC Clean Energy Network, the Institute is looking into the possibility of building a legal entity that represents the GCC partners (Wan et al. 2002). The idea has been seconded by the Energy Team of the GCC Secretariat to be financially supported by the GCC. In addition, a research funding mechanism would be introduced to support the objectives of the GCC’s agenda in the clean energy sector.
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Strategic model for the operations and finance division
Recently, the institute developed and began to adopt an excellence strategy that has been development by the Office of the VP. The excellence model is to be cascaded to all the support functions under that office. The purpose of this model is to maximise operational excellence through optimisation of:
- Systems: It looks into putting in place more effective Automated Systems to support the Divisions and Departments.
- Standards: It deals with defining, developing and implementing policy, procedures and processes.
- Structure: It defines roles and responsibilities with focus on knowledge development and transfer to local workforce.
- Controls: It can be achieved by tightening budgetary and procurement controls
- Compliance: It includes developing, implementing and monitoring a quality frame work which incorporates local and international practices.
Translation of the Strategic Model in to Initiatives
Table 2: Administration strategy of excellence model.
|Administrative Departments Services|
|Administrative Service and Operational Effectiveness and Efficiency||Optimisation Model||Optimisation Challenges strategy||Initiatives in Place or future plans- A brief||Impact- Key Performance Indicators|
|Systems||Turn a large volume of data into meaningful information and then into effective decisions||Oracle |
|Responsive-MI to align any changes in the market and rapidly adapt operational excellence|
|Standards||Rules and Regulations||PPP as set working standards||Agile-MI will quickly re-configure operations and supply chains to |
achieve optimal cost and service levels
|Structure||Competent and Performance driven work force||Empower employees of MI to make decisions and keep the process moving|
|Controls||Optimisation and Scheduling in all areas of Operation||KPIs definitions||Lean-MI to become a lean Institute to minimise waste of resources and activities.|
|Compliance||Quality controls and assurances as total quality management solution||International, Local and regional excellence models (EFQM)|
The role of the HR department
The Human Resources Department is established to support the mission of the Institute to be a top educational and research institution by providing leadership that assures efficient and effective management of the Institute’s human resources. The HR provides advisory and consulting services to all members of senior management, line managers and unit heads as well as employees on all the HR-related services. Most of the HR functions are centralised within the HR Department and little HR responsibilities are delegated to the line managers. A small number of HR tasks, such as faculty recruitment and faculty performance management, are handled by the Dean’s Office with the support of the HR Departments (Ulrich & Brockbank 2005).
Moreover, Research staff recruitment is the responsibility of the Faculty member. Based on their budget and the research project needs, faculty members source, interview and select the Research staff that are needed to accomplish their project. The HR Department is responsible for the on boarding and the employee affairs aspect of their employment.
The HR mission and vision
The mission and vision of the Human Resources (HR) Department is to engage in best practice human resource management to provide excellent services, innovative solutions and visionary leadership in support of excellence for the Institute’s educational mission. The Institute’s mission is in keeping with the ideals of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE, who believed strongly in responsible conservation, sustainable development and the importance of education. He believed that the real asset of any nation is its people. He especially believed on the importance of educating the human resource. To this end, he argued that the success of an individual should be determined by their level of education (Sheehan 2005).
Only by developing its human capital will Abu Dhabi achieve its long-term environmental and economic sustainability goals. The Institute is serving both these objectives by providing Abu Dhabi and the UAE with highly talented individuals and cutting-edge, world-class research in the field of renewable energy and sustainability.
The HR services
The HR Department aims to provide value-added services to management, faculty and staff in the following areas:
- workforce planning
- recruitment and retention
- performance management
- training and development
- employee relations
- compensation and benefits
- health insurance
HR as a business partner
HR also strives to progressively enhance the value of these services which include:
- Attracting, developing, and retaining outstanding faculty and staff who are committed to achieving excellence and who are engaged to achieve the vision, mission and values of the institute.
- Facilitating and supporting an organisational culture and work environment that advances the achievement of the institute’s vision and mission while exemplifying the institute’s values.
- Advancing working conditions in a manner that is sustainable for the university, effectively balancing needs and resources.
- Building and nurturing productive relationships internally and externally with stakeholders who impact the Institute’s workplace and work culture.
- Developing organisational capacity to position the Institute for the future.
HR’s Emiratisation strategy
The institute’s Emiratisation strategy is not modelled on a quota-based system rather a skill-based Emiratisation policy has been developed to support the nationalisation initiative. The Emiratisation policy involves the capacity building with respect to skills. The policy ensures that enough nationals are empowered with skills necessary for the economic development. The Institute follows a long-term structured and holistic approach in its Emiratisation strategies and incorporates it in all its functions. The Emiratisation percentage has increased from 29% in 2010 to over 40% in 2013. Also, a fresh UAE national graduates program was introduced as strong relationships were created with local universities to acquire the top students from different majors (Salvi 2013).
Although there is a document that states the mission and vision of the HR Department, it seems that the HR strategy has not been declared on any document. This makes it difficult for the HR Department to cascade this strategy to its functions or to ensure its alignment to the cross-functional departments is difficult. The current unwritten HR strategy is a reactive strategy that responds to events and changes as and when then happen (Salvi 2013).
In this section, the author briefly describes the main HR problem in the institution and the sub-problems that stem from them.
The major issue is the inability to integrate the unwritten reactive HR strategy to the organisation’s strategic objectives and directions as well as the difficulty in aligning it to the functions. This issue hinders the HR Department from supporting the vision and mission of the organisation and creates barriers in meeting the organisation’s human capital requirements.
Effects of the problem statement on HR functions
Some of the effects that the problem has on the HR are the:
- Misalignment between HR strategy and Organisation’s strategic objectives
- Weak Vertical and Horizontal integration to the Institute’s functions which in turn affects the
- Line management
- organisational strategy
The objectives of the research proposal are:
- To understand the level of alignment and integration that is currently present in the organisation
- To compare the current practice in the organisation with the literature on HR Strategy
- To investigate the cause and effect of any lack integration and misalignment
- To provide recommendations on the way forward
Scope of Research
The scope of this research will include a brief look at the institution’s strategy and how HR can support that through an integrated approach. It will also include interviews from members of the senior management, functional directors as well as an HR focus group. This input would cover the following stakeholders:
- Senior Management (Horizontal Alignment)
- Functional Directors (Vertical Integration)
- Faculty Representatives (Stakeholders)
- HR Representatives (Subject Matter Experts, HR Strategy Implementers)
Due to the fact that this research proposal is focused on the HR strategy, further information will not be needed at this stage but surely for implementation there will be more input from other stakeholders.
The section will look at the structure of the research proposal and a brief of the content of the upcoming chapters. The research strategy that is employed in this research proposal is a case study based strategy, which is the exploration o a single subject or case in an organisation and exploring it from various angles (Anderson 2013).
The current chapter lays a foundation for the entire study. Background information is provided to outline a historical perspective of the study. The problem statement provides the central argument of the dissertation. The chapter also outlines other foundational aspects of the study like the research questions and brief overview of human resource integration. The extent to which the study covers is illustrated. The next chapter provides details touching on previous studies on human resource integration. The literature review is an extension of the background information.
In this section, existing literature on human resource strategies and integration is examined. A total of ten peer reviewed articles and three books on human resource will be used to discuss the subject. In this regard, several human resource strategies are outlined. The chapter also examines theoretical concepts around this concept. Some of the articles will help shed light on what brings about the lack of integration and how it can be resolved. The review aims at providing a roadmap for the HR integration, which is useful for the current study.
History of Human Resource Strategy Integration
Over the years, human resource integration has evolved from rudimentary elements to the current complex nature. Studies carried out by Rothwell (2001), Budhwar and Boyne (2004), and Chand and Katou (2007) illustrate this concept clearly. Human resource strategy integration is primarily understood from a number of perspectives.
Definition of Human Resource Strategy
Organisational strategy is a critical concept for every business entity and institutional set-up. Strategies provide an organisation with a sense of direction and purpose to guide employees. It is a dynamic and fluid concept that is designed according to the requirements of the organisation. Organisational strategy is the pattern of decisions in a company or institution. The decisions help to define and realise its core objectives and goals (Ulrich & Brockbank 2005). Consequently, the strategies help an organisation to come up with policies and plans aimed at realising the objectives identified.
The Concept of Human Resource Strategy
Debate on human resource strategy is not a new discourse. According to Budhwar and Boyne (2004, p. 346), these controversies date back to the early seventies. The seminal paper by Devanna (as cited in Budhwar & Boyne 2004, p. 34), is known to have elicited intense debate on the subject. Major discussion on human resource strategies included how best they could be integrated into an organisation. To this end, Truss, Mankin, and Kelliher (2012) argue that SHRM (Strategic Human Resource Management) should be viewed as an all encompassing concept. It provides a connection between the management and deployment of individuals within the organisation. It also highlights the link between the firm and its environment (Truss et al. 2012).
The argument by Truss et al. (2012, p. 88) clearly outlines the link between the HR strategy and that of the entire organisation. In this regard, human resource strategies are seen to provide a link between the workforce and how they fit in realising the goals of an organisation. The elements focused on include recruitment, performance and development towards achieving the strategic goals. HR plays a critical role in informing this aspect of the strategy because it manages all the activities that will make this happen. Human resource strategies take into account the employees in perspective of the organisation as a whole as well as the external environment.
The definition of human resource strategies is required to factor in industry policies and how they relate to an organisational set up. In this regard, HR strategy is characterised by underpinning policies and processes. The organisation implements these processes in order to manage the employees (Salvi 2013). In addition to the HR strategy’s influence on the organisation as a whole, this emphasises its importance in cascading the direction of the institution down to the more tactical aspects of HR, such as policies, procedures and processes.
The definition of a human resource strategy helps to illustrate the importance of the link between the people management and how they can realise an organisation’s core objectives. The link includes all the policies and systems required to meet the strategic objectives of a given organisation (Budhwar & Boyne 2004, p. 349). Contemporary scholars in the field argue that earlier definitions lack the visionary approach that should be associated with HR strategies. To this end, the subject has been re-defined to incorporate a more proactive strategic partnership approach.
Human resource strategies ought to be created and designed in line with the organisational strategy. HR strategies, formulated along those lines, help to taps into the transformation and transactional components of an organisation (Jackson & Schuler 2000, p. 18). The two components enable a company’s human resources’ department to come up with an ideal plan with respect to the horizontal and vertical aspects of the strategy.
The development of an ideal HR strategy requires leadership that is both proactive and competent. According to Lockwood (2005, p. 16), human resource professionals are required to have a firm grasp on how best to align an organisation’s goals with that entailed for the workforce. According to Lockwood (2005), HR professionals have three major roles, with respect to organisational strategy. HR roles include strategic partner/change agent, administrative expertise and employee championing.
The arguments raised by Lockwood (2005) provide an appropriate link between the needs of an organisation and the best fit as far as HR strategies are concerned. Lockwood (2005, p. 76) suggests that examining HR strategies from that perspective enables the practitioners to become strategic partners with respect to an organisation’s strategy. In a separate study, Arthur and Boyles (2007, p. 78) argue that the arguments raised by Lockwood (2005) enable HR practitioners to become change agents. In this regard the HR practitioner is tasked with the responsibility of bringing about transformation and change within an organisation.
A holistic understanding of human resources strategies helps in the development of an administrative expert. Malhotra (2005, p. 65) argues that and administrative expert is crucial in the management of an organisation’s HR infrastructure. Consequently, the integration of an ideal strategy (into a company or institution) can easily fall into place.
Human Resource Strategy at the Institute
Presently, at the Institution, the HRM is seen as being dependent on a reactive approach, which focuses on tactical and operational issues as well as functional integrity. Based on the direction of the Institution, it requires the HR to be a key strategic player in order to advance itself towards its strategic vision. The interview responses in Archer’s Mission Critical Modernising Human Resource Management in Higher Education highlight this issue clearly. Administrators explain how they have transformed their image from centralised and administrative cocoons to advisory services based on the client. The professionals acknowledge the significant implications of the transition on consulting and advisory. They also talk of the challenges of driving the new HR agenda through the institution (Anderson 2013).
An exercise in the Institution was carried out two years ago which included benchmarking with some of the major higher education institutions in the US. The generic outcome was that Higher Education Human Resources Management is shifting into a more strategic role. An example of that was a meeting held with high ranked HR Professionals in Stanford, which the researcher participated in. There have been substantial changes in the organisation structure which reinforces the significance of the HR function into the entire institution. The first thing that was done was that the HR Department was shifted and its reporting line was directly to the highest ranking official in the University and the entire function was empowered to become a strategic partner (Arthur & Boyles 2007).
To ensure alignment to the innovation strategy, the approach needs to shift to the one where HR is the driving force in the development of the strategy. This will require a sold HR vision and mission that can be translated into a fully integrated and aligned HR strategy that will steer the organisational capabilities and resources towards achieving the overall institution’s strategy (Lipman 2013). It should be cascaded to all the functions within the department in order to align them to the Innovation strategy.
Looking at the current context of the Institution, it is visible that the HR initiates ideas and they are discussed and debated and the consequences of implementation are analysed by multiple parties who may or may not fully understand the role of HR. This has caused the HR initiatives to over-analysed and over-criticised by non-HR professionals who may not completely understand the value and impact of these proposals. It hinders HR from providing proactive approaches that will support the organisation (Malhotra 2005).
Strategic Integration in Human Resource Strategy
Vertical integration refers to the alignment of the HR strategy to the organisational strategy and the context of the external environment. The concept of vertical integration takes into account the linking the organisational strategy to the departmental strategies and the functional strategies. According to Jackson and Schuler (2000, p. 56), the link is meant to trickle down to the policies, procedures and processes of an organisation. Vertical integration ensures that all activities are implemented and carried out in line with the organisational needs. Once the vertical integration falls into place, the success of the organisational strategy is imminent.
Horizontal integration refers to the integration of the HR strategy with other strategic functions on the same level. Arthur and Boyles (2007, p. 79) suggest that a horizontal integration ensures that the needs and requirements of the functional aspects of the organisation are in sync with the core objectives. With respect to an institution of higher learning, the HR Department realises horizontal integration by taking into account requirements and expectations from the academic, research, student-related and administrative departments.
A suitable HR strategy for an institution of higher learning must take into account the demands of the said departments. According to Truss (2003, p. 54), vertical integration of a HR strategy must guarantee the success of these departments towards achieving the strategic objectives. This can be achieved through a focus group with all the functional heads in order to understand and extract their needs and then including that when planning the strategy.
Frameworks for the Human Resource Strategy
The ‘Best Practice’ approach assumes that there is only one way in which a human resources strategy can be realised in an organisation (Wall & Wood 2005, p. 71). The best practice is arrived at upon settlement of the most persuasive human resources theory. Studies have established that the ‘Best Practice’ framework is realised upon intense scrutiny of the following models;
- Michael Beer’s Model
- David Guest’s Model
- Jeffery Pfeiffer’s Model
- Human Equation Model
In the subsequent section, specifics touching on the respective theoretical frameworks are outlined. Institutions of higher learning require elements touching on innovation and cost reduction. The study by Sheehan (2005, p. 193) points out that David Guest’s model is ideal in providing human resource integration in institutions of higher learning.
David Guest’s model incorporates the link between HRM practices and outcomes with those of an organisation. According to Teo and Crawford (2005, p. 7), the David Guest model helps in the assessment of the current link between the HR strategy and an institution’s strategy. The model provides the flexibility and simplicity required by institutions of higher learning. The ‘best practice’ framework also relies on the Harvard model. Takeuchi, Wakabayashi and Chen (2003, p. 447) point out that the Harvard Model takes into account the stakeholder interests and situational factors. The two will be analysed to support the recommendations in subsequent sections of this study.
Organisations have various departments which require synchronisation in terms of target realisation. The Best Fit approach takes into account that each organisation is different and the human resources are managed differently in each situation and circumstance. Several models are used under this approach including Schuler and Jackson’s Competitive Advantage Model, Delery and Doty’s Matching Model (Chang & Huang 2005, p. 435). The Keith Sisson and John Storey’s Business Life Cycle Model are also ideal in explaining the best fit concept.
The best fit model is best understood from the perspective of a competitive advantage. The study carried out by Chan et al. (2004, p. 23) found that the Porter’s Five Competitive Strategies enable the establishment of human resource practices which are aligned with an organisation’s core objectives. The understanding is derived from the idea that core objectives are developed to counter existing competition. The Porter’s Five Strategies examine various employee behaviours. For instance, redundant employee behaviour can be remedied by developing a HR policy that clearly outlines job descriptions (Chan et al. 2004, p. 38). The policy is derived from cost as a competitive advantage.
With respect to the current study, the most appropriate models are the Competitive Advantage and the Business Life Cycle Models. The Competitive Advantage Model will allow the assessment of the alignment of the HR strategy to its functions.
The concept of human resource strategy is best explained through the various theoretical framework outlined in the previous section. The current section examines the various models that can be used to assess an ideal human resources strategy. Based on the discussions it will become possible to develop an appropriate strategy for the current.
David Guest Model
David Guest’s model covers the HRM Strategy with respect to how the organisational outcomes are realised. Becker and Huselid (2006, p. 900) established that the David Guest Model ensures the organisational outcomes are met through the development and delivery of the best human resource practices. The model illustrates how a HR strategy is underpinned in the related practices and how it results in the fulfilment of an organisational strategy.
The David Guest Model represents both the hard and soft approaches of HRM. According to Becker and Huselid (2006, p. 898), the two approaches are realised by proposing 4 critical elements that underpin the organisational effectiveness. They include the following:
- Strategic integration – explains how a human resources’ strategy fits into an organisation’s main agenda providing a link and alignment criteria
- Commitment: examines the discretionary effort of the employees as well as their loyalty and sense of belonging to the organisation.
- Flexibility: refers to the adaptability of the organisation conform to the shifts in the external as well as the internal environment.
- Quality: refers to the high level of quality in the services provided from the core business of the organisation down to the transactional aspects of the work.
Table 3 is an illustration of the David Guest HRM model.
Table 3: David Guest’s HRM model.
|HRM Strategy||HRM Practices||HRM Outcome|
|Cost Reduction||Performance Management||Flexibility|
The Harvard Model takes into account all the stakeholders affiliated to the human resource of an organisation. Sheehan (2005) suggests the stakeholders should be consulted during the development of a human resource strategy. The stakeholders’ role in the development of an organisational strategy helps in the realisation of an ideal strategy for the human resources’ department. The Harvard model ensures that HR outcomes will have an impact on the long-term consequences such as the organisational effectiveness and its overall wellbeing. To this end, HR strategies are seen as having a great impact on the organisation. The study by Sheehan (2005, p. 200) found that HR strategies adds to the competitive advantage of an organisation. Figure 1 is an illustration of the Harvard Model
The adapted model for the Institute would look like this:
Table 4: Adapted model.
|Stakeholder Interest||HRM Strategy||HRM Practices||HRM Outcome|
| ||Innovation|| || |
|This category from the Harvard model feeds into the kind of strategy that the Institute should consider.||Due to the nature of the organisation, its values and from the numerous breakthroughs in the research, the Institute is gearing towards an innovation strategy||All of the HR Policies and Practices should cascade the Innovation Strategy.||An example of this is cross-functional Innovation will foster commitment, quality and competence within the Institute. Employees will feel a sense of ownership towards continuous improvement of themselves and the organisation which will drive the organisation to fulfil this strategy|
Challenges Preventing Human Resource Integration
Human Resources Strategies require a collective effort of internal and external factors to realise success. Sheehan (2005, p. 194) observes that organisations fail to realise the integration of HR strategies due to the lack of internal and external coordination. When intra and intradepartmental strategies are not synchronised HR integration becomes difficult.
Intradepartmental challenges are not realised based on the following reasons:
- Inconsistency and lack of transparency within the HR Department
- Lack of clarity in terms of the HR’s roles and responsibilities within the organisation
- Inability to track the performance of the department and its functions
- Lack of direction and the services support the Institute in an adhoc manner
- Lack of credibility since the HR Department doesn’t seem to providing support at the strategic level
The interdepartmental challenges that hinder HR strategy integration include the following:
- Inability to grasp the weight of the Human Resources’ department input with respect to the organisational strategy
- The Human Capital aspect of the strategy is not incorporated which is causing a major misalignment
The literature review outlines the secondary sources of data for this study. In this regard, previous studies touching on human resource integration are outlined. Theoretical frameworks and some of the human resource strategies are outlined. The chapter seeks to expound on the details developed during the background phase of this study. In the subsequent chapter, the details pertaining to the actual research methods are outlined.
The current section of the research paper discusses the various research methods and the selected approaches that are the most appropriate for the topic. In the chapter, a summary of the gathered information is provided. In chapter two, the literature review discussed the definition of HR Strategy as well as and its approaches in theoretical perspectives. The literature review also provided a brief reference to the Institute in relation to various hr integration approaches. This chapter covers the research methodology, including qualitative and quantitative approaches. The different approaches are identified and the selected option is discussed along with a justification and its relevance to the research on the HR Strategy. The final section of this chapter examines the procedure of data analysis. Research limitations and ethical issues are also outlined.
According to Christensen, Burke, and Turner (2010), it is possible to have a research undertaking assume a quantitative and qualitative approach. There are other instances when a study assumes both instances with respect to the type of research being undertaken. A research design that adopts the two approaches is quite vital when the intention is to test a hypothesis or affirm a given thesis statement. The objectivity of such a research design makes it the most preferred in a study like the one undertaken herein.
Gravetter and Forzano (2011) argue that a qualitative and quantitative research approaches are components of an exploratory research design. Consequently, the study herein intends to assume a similar design. By virtue of incorporating qualitative components the study will take a systematic approach of data collection. The data will also adopt a descriptive approach. The same has already been illustrated in the literatures review wherein secondary material was used. From the secondary sources, data was collected to in response to the objectives of the study which is to determine the best fit in relation to human resources integration.
There are two phases involved in the current study. The first phase incorporated secondary sources where multiple journals and books where examined on the subject of HR integration. According to Creswell (2008), literature reviews are insufficient in exhausting the particulars of a study. For that reason, the second phase of the research undertaking involves the administration of questionnaires. The data obtained from the respondents will help build on the subject matter.
The current study relies on both primary and secondary sources of information. When it comes to primary source of data, Creswell (2008) proposes the use of suitable research instruments. Some of the instruments include interviews and questionnaires (Creswell 2008). The benefit of using such instruments is the credibility that they provide to a study. For instance, the use of a questionnaire allows an in-depth understanding of the sample population.
In this study, the questionnaires will be administered at random. Creswell (2008) points out that, questionnaires are prone to errors like obtaining false information. To overcome such errors, the respondents in the study are selected on the basis of the perceived importance they hold to the study. Thus, the participants are students drawn various institutions of higher learning and construction companies. They stand t benefit from the results of this study. Consequently, they will not give false information as it may jeopardise the research undertaking.
Scope of the Study
As mentioned earlier, the study is domiciled in Abu Dhabi. The study focuses on integration of HR practices at Masdar Institute. Data is collected from professionals and scholars in the fields of academics and human resources. A majority of the data is sourced from HR practitioners
Quantitative Research Methods
Quantitative research is the kind that is dependent on its enumerable features. Quantitative research methods are applicable to phenomena that can be expressed in terms of quantities. The quantitative approach deals with data that is generated by quantitative tools which can be analysed in a formal way. The following are some of the characteristics of quantitative:
- Is based on a familiarisation of current research as opposed to knowledge of specific situations
- Only a limited number of variables are analysed;
- Focuses on establishing significant and separate relationships between a limited number of variables
- Depends on the variables are expressed in the language of the investigation
- Seeking to achieve abstraction from repeated observation
With respect to the current study, the quantitative methods will only be used as a secondary source of information that will inform or support the investigation of this research. The main reason for using the quantitative method is its acceptability within the institution. However, some information may not be divulged due to the sensitivity of the topic being researched (Bawa 2004). The current study is a build up from previous survey. To this end, employees at all levels will be reluctant to complete another since previous ones have not been acted upon. The credibility of the HR Department was negatively impacted due to this failed exercise. In this regard, the quantitative method alone cannot be relied upon for the entire study.
Quantitative data is best realised from a survey with direct responses. The current survey relied only on closed ended questions. Written feedback, criticism or observation that might be critical to this research was not incorporated. The existing survey that was conducted was released from the Office of the VP and it covered areas including:
- Shared Direction
- Focus on Results
- Feeling Trust
- High Quality Thinking
- Outward Focus
Qualitative Research Methods
The descriptive aspects of a study are realised courtesy of qualitative research methods. According to Anderson (2013, p.10), qualitative research methods are inclined on examining the attributes of a given area of study. Qualitative research techniques help in realising the underlying motives and desires of a study. Anderson (2013, p. 11) suggests that interviews are the best tools to use in the case of a qualitative research method. Consequently, the qualitative approach is seen as a more subjective approach that entails observations, behaviours and incidents.
Qualitative research methods focus on qualitative data. The following is an overview of the features that constitute qualitative data:
- Familiarises itself with a real-life context or situation
- Is based on the analysis of significant themes that are suggested by a range of sources
- Ensures a comprehensive understanding of the interrelationships between different factors
- Seeks to find out how people understand a situation and how their understanding influences their actions
Qualitative research methods can be realised through a number of techniques. For instance, the Participant Observation is one technique used in the process of a qualitative research undertaking. According to Creswell (2008, p. 67), the participant observation provides a systematic description of the phenomena around a given study with respect to its social setting. The participant observation method enables the researcher to describe the setting by being deeply embedded in the setting over a given period of time.
In the current study, the participant observation was employed. As already indicated, the study was a development of previous surveys on HR integration at the university. In this regard, the researcher was heavily involved in the transformational activity of introducing a new Performance Management System. According to Truss (2003, p. 57), HR integration can be understood by evaluating an organisation’s performance management system. Truss (2003, p. 59) argues that performance management systems outline how departmental strategies can be adopted and applied to an organisation. The strategies are later broken down into specific objectives of realising strategic changes.
The participant observation technique becomes an opportunity to learn from the responses, expressions, emotions, and reactions of the employees who participated in this exercise. Further information will be provided in the findings.
In the first chapter, the objectives of the study were clearly outlined. In the first instance the study was developed towards understanding the level of alignments and integration that are, currently, in use at the institution. To this end, familiarity of the company was part of the requirements of the study. The dissertation also intends to examine scholar opinions touching on HR integration strategies. Other objectives of study include
- The investigation of the cause and effect of any lack integration and misalignment.
- to provide recommendations on the way forward
The research questions are an endeavour to respond to each and every one of the objectives. A comprehensive perspective into the questions is illustrated in the appendix section. The questions collected require evaluation. The procedure illustrated below makes up for the analysis
- Obtain the sum total value of average value of question.
- Divide (‘a’ above) by the number of questions.
- Average (obtained in ‘b’ above) calculated reflects average value.
- Divide the average value (in ‘c’ above) calculated by 4: to establish % respondent feedback.
- Sum and divide standard deviation total by the total number of questions asked, this will help establish Respondent feedback accuracy.
- Segment the highest standard deviation with the lowest Average value to establish priority statement.
The following are the list of questions that constituted the study
- Does the institute have a shared direction? – This question examines whether the institution has a shared vision across all departments. This regard, issues like employee behaviour is examined.
- Are the employees focused towards the same results? – The question evaluates the degree of employee motivation. In this regard, the participants were evaluated on the team spirit.
- Does the institution have internal challenges? – The question is developed to point out the result of failure to integrate HR strategies in the institution. Based on the responses, the question sought to examine how HR integration would help solve any existing challenges.
- Are the members of staff accountable to their tasks? – The question evaluates employee responsibility. Employee responsibility calls for meeting the specific organisational objectives. The responses sought to evaluate whether there is a collective spirit of meeting organisational objectives.
- Are the members of staff committed to the institute? – the question seeks to evaluate employee performance with respect to their loyalty. Commitment is a spirit aimed at encouraging a good working environment. The response sought was to examination of policies that foster the development of a good working environment.
- Do the employees encourage innovativeness among themselves? – The question sought to evaluate how HR policies can help spur an innovative culture in an organisation. Organisational objectives can be realised courtesy of innovative ideas. Towards this end, participants are interviewed to establish the university’s position on creativity.
- Do the employees understand the internal stakeholders? – The question seeks to establish whether there is a common appreciation of the organisational structure. HR integration is unrealistic in the absence of a tangible organisational structure. Consequently, the study points out the need for internal organisational restructuring at the university.
Data Collection Tools
Research is realised based on how data is collected. Creswell (2008, p. 105) points out that data collection is realised based on the combination of ideal tools. The current study seeks to focus on HR Integration measures at a macro-level. Consequently, qualitative data collection tools come in handy. Some of the tools include interviews with employees in the institution’s HR department and those of other organisations.
The interview approach for this research will be semi-structured face-to-face interviews, with themes and questions prepared in advance and the flow of the interview will vary from interviewee to the next. The variation will be depended on the interviewee’s willingness to disclose their feedback, observation and criticism of the organisation. Moreover, due to the internal restrictions and limitations, the researcher was unable to interview senior members of Management or to conduct a focus group. This limitation was caused by senior HR Officials and members of senior management’s repeated requests due to the sensitivity of this and the current situation of the HR Department.
The use of Participant Observation is evident in the documentation of the researcher’s experience in the discussions that took place when designing and developing the departmental strategies (Appendix E and F). The limitation of this approach is that the researcher observed the setting and there was some level of intervention due to the vested interests of the study. On the other hand, the researcher’s bias towards the HR Department was another limitation. Consequently, critical evaluation was necessary to minimise potential causes of bias.
On a secondary level, the research looks into previous human resources integration surveys. As already mentioned there are a number of studies, carried out at the institution based on the same subject. Previous surveys provided the following information:
- Organisational performance
- Previous human resources strategies
- Organisational structures
- Theoretical frameworks used in past HR integration measures
- Factors that promote HR integration in different organisations
Quantitative data is essential in pointing out the degrees of certain aspects of a study. According to Creswell (2008, p. 165), quantitative data enables a researcher to establish why certain aspects of a given study are the way they are. The quantitative data is collected on the basis that the problem statement justifies the thesis statement. In this regard, the quantitative data helps in responding to the thesis statement of this dissertation.
Design of the Interview
The interviews that were conducted are semi-structured and contained open questions that will allow the interviewee to share more information towards the research. The structure of the interview will include:
- The introduction
- “Ice Breaker” in the form of friendly conversations and questions
- The provision of the Confidentiality and Anonymity Document
- Interview Questions which cover the research topic, with probing techniques
The interview questions are attached in the appendix section.
Prior to the interview, a questionnaire was sent to the interviewee in order for them to be given a brief on the nature of the interview and to prepare their responses in advance. The preparation, on the part of the interviewer is based o the information acquired from secondary sources. The literature review places the interviewer at an advantage in terms of the knowledge. Consequently, the information enhances the credibility of the interviewer to assess the accuracy of the information received.
An appropriate sample selection ensures a study maximises on the findings intended by the thesis statement. With respect to the current study the following interviewees have been selected to cover all the aspects of the Institute and to gauge the Executive team regarding the HR Strategy evaluation. The interviewees will include:
- Members of the administrative staff, including the vice chancellor and various departmental heads
- Members of the Strategic Leadership, which includes Directors of Various Departments
- A few members from the HR Department
Inclusion and exclusion criteria
Information, pertaining to a certain subject of study, is incorporated based on a specific set of criteria. Inclusion and exclusion criteria help in supporting a selected tool of study. Creswell (2008, p. 67) argues that the sources of a given study must be reliable and valid. Bryman and Bell (2011, p. 75) point out that reliability is ensures the contents of a study can be evaluated in a separate and similar research.
Reliability of a study refers to whether the research undertaken is consistent with the general requirements. In this regard, consistency was a key aspect of enhancing the study. Validity is concerned with the integrity of the findings made in the study. In relation to the research method of this paper, one can easily see the validity of the data collected using the criteria below:
Table 5: Proof that validity of the research meets the criteria.
|Credibility||The findings are credible and believe as most of the participants have agreed on major points that were discussed in the interviews. Moreover, the respondents in the survey (Appendix E) also verified and validated the information gathered from the interview sample.|
|Transferability||Some of the information in the findings may be transferable across many organisations and institutions. Alignment and Integration issues can manifest in multiple ways. The Institute’s issues and the way they manifest from management to employees is somewhat unique to our environment.|
|Dependability||The findings have been applicable for the past 5 years and continue to be applicable till date, so this proves that the information is dependable.|
|Confirmability||The researched collected evidence as it was presented and introduced the findings according to the analysis of the interviews and the survey findings.|
The current research paper requires the participation of human subjects in the interviews. In order to protect the participants and respect their request for confidentiality, the researcher did not name them and they remain anonymous. Moreover, the data collected in this paper will not be shared with unauthorised people. The researcher explained to all interview participants that they have the authority to stop the interview at any time and they can refuse to answer parts of a question, if they feel that this may cause them distress or harm. When it comes to conflict of interest, there were many instances organisation restricted the researches access to some information that will support the research (Anderson 2013, p.132).
Data Collection Tools
Human resources integration is realised through an analysis of the S.W.O.T. analysis of an organisation. Consequently, a comprehensive S.W.O.T. was used as part of the data collection aspect of this study. The analysis is essential in illustrating the factors which contribute towards Human Resources integration. The current study made reference to S.W.O.T. analysis as a tool to the institution as a whole in terms of its environment externally and internally. This will put the organisational setting in a greater context. To this end, the organisation framework becomes necessary.
Organisational evidence is a key ingredient to a research undertaking. The current study employs organisational evidence as part of the data collection tools. The organisational evidence, in this study divided into three groups. The first group includes the evidence produced internally for internal use. On the other hand, evidence produced internally for external use constitutes the second group. The third group involves the evidence produced externally for internal use.
The current research undertaking relies on selected organisational evidence that will support the Institute’s history and background information. According to Malhotra (2005, p. 45), the knowledge of an organisational background helps understanding the present scenario. Towards this end, the organisational evidence collected for this study provides the necessary information that will be used in the analysis and recommendation aspect of this research.
Examples of evidence produced internally for internal use include the following:
- Human resources records for the institution
- Human resource policies of the institution
- Previous surveys relating to HR integration
- Corporate brochures
- Institutional website
The advantages of using such organisational evidence in a study are plenty. The following are some of the reasons why organisational evidence was used for the current study
- Previous HR Integration surveys will bring out the need for precision in the current study
- The level of coverage which can be extensive since documents that include the Institute’s strategic direction, objectives as well as the HR related strategy. It is also manifested in the interviews of the various stakeholders within the organisation which will give the research insight into the multi-level multi-functional aspects within the Institute
Some of the disadvantages that are associated with organisational evidence include:
- Access to all the relevant information. For example, access to certain assessments that were conducted by an external consultants. In this regard, such analysis would become difficult to access, given the confidentiality requirements.
- The level of partiality and bias. In order to minimise this, interviews with various stakeholders are conducted so that the base facts and opinions
- The production of the analysis maybe influenced by these documents especially if they caused the phenomenon which is being researched. Collaboration of the various sources should be able to clarify this point and can even be the cause of discovering the reason behind this phenomenon.
As previously mentioned, the current study involves the analysis of the questionnaires administered to a set of participants. In this regard, there is a need to examine the target group as a focal tool in the collection of data. Interviews can be conducted on an individual or group level (Creswell 2008, p. 86). The current study made use of target group interviews.
Target group interview allows the interviewer to have an insight into the range of perceptions, behaviours, attitudes, opinions in relation to a given study. The target group of this study is constituted as follows:
- Members of the institution’s human resource department
- Consultants in the field of human resource
- Members of staff of HR departments of organisations that have implemented similar strategies.
The questions given to the target group (in this study) are open ended. The questions allow for feedback, opinions and criticism. Target group interviews minimise bias. The outcome of the focus group should feed in to the overall investigation of the topic. The researcher faced a major limitation to this selected approach with respect to access to the HR management. However, the study managed to access two if the three management staff and 80% of the entre department.
Challenges Encountered during the Study
During the research phase, I came to realise that the more I discovered about the research topic and the implications as well as the obstacles within the organisation the more resistance I faced when it came to sharing the documents and perceptions of the existing state of the HR Strategy. Initially I received full support from the management and the HR team; the level of participation was very high and the research methodology was designed around it. In this regard, the primary source of data was supposed to be a mix of interviews and a focus group.
As the research progressed and I discovered that there potentially was a bigger and much more complicated issue that is contributing to the lack of HR strategy alignment and integration, there was an air of scepticism and the number participants dwindled. Participants were not interested in sharing their views on how external and internal factors within the organisation contributed to the problem statement and I was asked to refer back to the survey, which was never shared and discussed with the employees.
My access to senior members of management and the Deans was limited due to the sensitivity of the topic. There was a general anxiety that a junior staff member would uncover and point out major flaws with the leadership and management of the organisation. Unfortunately, the realisation that the input from these categories would be extremely crucial to the research was not present. I strongly believe that there is a strong divide in terms of perception which ranges between complete denial of the research topic and problem statement to the complete blame of this lack to the HR Department.
Moreover, there was a major resistance from the HR team to participate in the focus group. They believed that the HR strategy should only be discussed at the HR Director level and that they only receive the cascaded strategy in order to implement in their various functions. There was a lack in realising the importance of their participation in that discussion and how it can feedback into the HR strategy and inform their contribution.
The participants who did participate in the interview asked to have the questions amended to softer and less critical questions. So I had to rephrase the questions to accommodate this aspect of the challenge. Furthermore, there was a general reluctance to divulge more critical information and some aspects of the interview were said ‘off the record’ so that I can understand the bigger picture.
Reflecting on the research process and due to the fact that I am an Activist Learner, I faced a major challenge in researching the theoretical aspects of HR Strategy. On most occasions, I would directly look for the models that are used within the various areas I was reading about and I would force myself to read the literature behind the models first. I was more eager to dive into the practical implications of the research within the Institute rather than spend more time researching for the Literature Review.
The research paper developed my Theorist/Reflector Learning styles in a phenomenal way and gave me the opportunity to explore my weakness and even test it at times.
In this chapter, details touching on the techniques of research were examined. The study made use of an exploratory research design. In this regard, both qualitative and quantitative research methods were outlined. The primary data was collected from a target group courtesy of questionnaires administered in an interview. The literature review made up the secondary sources of data. In the next chapter, a discussion on the findings is outlined.
Findings and Discussions
The literature review and the interviews were integral to the information gathering aspect of this study. In both cases, the information was gathered to illustrate how hr policies can be integrated in a given organisation. The information is essential with respect to HR integration at Masdar Institute. To this end, the findings touch n the following material subjects:
- Transparency and trust
The findings from the interview are discussed in the context of the information gathered from the literature review. A combination of both sources of data will provide enough information to make the necessary recommendations for the HR at Masdar Institute.
As previously mentioned, a SWOT Analysis of Masdar Institute was carried out. The SWOT Analysis was necessary to provide an overview of the organisation at a macro-level. Table 6 is a SWOT analysis which some of the strengths that the organisation can capitalise. The analysis also reveals some of the critical weaknesses which can be addressed for the betterment of the organisation.
Table 6: SWOT Analysis.
|Strength ||Weakness |
|Opportunities ||Threats |
The target group in the sample selection was approached via email and face-to-face meetings. Due to the sensitive nature of this research topic, not all participants agreed to participate in the interviews. The interviews were not recorded as per the request of the management; so instead notes were taken during the interview in order to capture the feedback. All participants received the Statement of Informed Consent (Signed copies in the Appendix)
Summary of the interviews
Table 7: Summary of the interviews.
|Anonymous 1||Director-level||Ideally, we go through an annual exercise of preparing our strategies and mapping them to the Institute and I assume HR goes through a similar process. I also assume that HR’s strategy is aligned to the organisational strategic plan and direction. HR in any organisation is a critical department that should play a strategic role. |
Plans are always there in the HR Department but a major problem is implementation and the follow-through of these projects and initiatives.
The barriers are external and internal. External factors include
Internal Factors include:
I believe that our HR Department doesn’t have a deep enough understanding of the requirements of the Institute and needs to be more involved on all levels of the Institute in order to be strategic. There are several issues that affect this including:
In strategic planning, we lack the support and availability of crucial HR data that is needed in order to make informed decisions. This is due to the lack of an IT system to support them, among other factors.
Due to all this, Senior Management reached the level of not involving HR and not even allowing this involvement to occur in the first place.
|Anonymous 2||Executive Director-level||There is a distinct difference between the Academic Institution’s and Corporate Organisation’s perspectives of the HR Department and Strategy. In Corporate Organisation, the HR is a very strategic department. On the other hand, the Academic Institution needs the HR to be a more supportive role; supporting the Academic and Research functions. |
The HR Department should play a supportive role providing services for the organisation needed in order to reach its objectives. We need the HR Department to have the Academic Acumen in order to tailor their services. Department Heads and Senior Faculty members should be able to decide on matters that are in their areas and HR should provide an advisory and consulting role. The HR Department should not involve itself in matters that are out of its scope of work.
The major issues with the department is the below:
The Authority of the HR Department is not clear as well which causes many internal issues.
There is an evident gap between what the HR thinks it should be doing and what “they” expect from the HR Department.
|Anonymous 3||Director-Level||Who is considered a strategic department at the Institute? How do we develop our strategies to begin with? |
One issue is that HR should be involved at the first stage of the strategy discussion. Because it is not present from the start, it makes it extremely difficult for the department to catch up with the rest of the Institute. HR has not determined its contribution towards the Academic and Research arms of the Institution, which is our core business. Therefore there is a major misalignment between the organisational strategy and the HR strategy.
Strategy in my opinion equals accountability and for the top man to put a strategy it makes him accountable for the organisation’s direction towards that goal and its deliverables.
There are 2 major aspects of HR not being a strategic partner at our Institute:
|Anonymous 4||Manager-Level||At the start of the Institute, HR was functioning at an operational level only and was extremely reactive to the organisational needs. As the team grew and continued to learn, services were tuned to match the growing demand. HR began to understand the Institute’s strategy and how they can contribute to it. Also a benchmarking exercise was carried out which involved meeting with many US Universities in order to compare practices and learn from their expertise. This initiative was very strategic in nature and a great deal of information was gained, from operational to strategic. HR is trying to operate within the Institute’s values framework and it continuously tries to improve its services on many fronts. HR was involved in several strategic projects such as the Faculty compensation and benefits structure, student on boarding, etc. This requires understanding the context of an academic institution and its constraints. HR partners with all the departments and supports them in fulfilling their objectives. |
The HR role in the western academic system has been and is evolving in to a more strategic role as was observed in the benchmarking meetings and since the Institute adopts a US model, I believe that we are heading in the right direction.
During this transition, we face and will continue to face many challenges and obstacles because academics are not used to a higher level of involvement from the HR Department. So this change will require dedication and perseverance. The Institute has inherited this model and it was never included as a strategic function from the Governance perspective. This model limits the HR Department’s contribution to Academia and Research.
Another challenge is the fact that the Institute is an extremely unique project in the region and it is very difficult to attract international candidates that have the relevant expertise to drive the fast paced results that are expected from the organisation.
|Anonymous 5||Professional Level||Every unit / department of an organisation has their goals aligned to the goals of the organization. |
HR being one of the departments and facilitator of most of the processes aligns its departmental goals to the goals of the organisation and eventually it becomes a vital part of the strategic planning process by hiring and allocating individuals in departments where they belong.
HR seems to be struggling in this area due to internal and external forces. Examples of external forces are management, continuous changing requirements of the organisation and line management, etc. Examples of internal forces are lack of internal communication, transparency and not utilising the employees to their full potential.
Strategic planning process includes setting of goals, measuring the outcomes, developing strategies and then measuring the results of these strategies.
In order to complete the above steps in the process, HR
From an internal point of view, the HR should
Once the departmental goals have been assigned, they are communicated to the management and the process of achieving these goals starts; HR being the holder / bearer of most of the information can help unit managers by providing the necessary information / data to be disseminated to employees helping them achieve goals.
|Anonymous 6||Professional Level||HR and Strategic planning are linked together because in order to set a target or achieve a target. HR needs to work the most in arriving at hoe they will go about hiring people and which skills and talents are needed in order to achieve a goal. |
Any Organisation consists of 2 factors: the internal and external environment.
HR has to scan both in order to determine the current status, the potential development opportunities and as well to forecast factors that would influence the organisations success.
By scanning HR is gathering information about any incidents happening outside and inside an organisation like occasions, Patterns, trends, and the environment internally and externally; by this process any HR Department can put a strategic plan for the long run and the short run, and would have other plans in case of obstacles happening through the process of getting to the vision, or target.
In order to plan right and process a strategic plan HR needs to
HR should make sure that:
The key to success is to have all the accurate information about the human capital of the organisation in order to support any strategic planning.
|Anonymous 7||Professional level||The HR strategy is not clear, maybe it’s there but no one knows about it and its not communicated to anyone. Each function does what they think they should do to serve the organisation. Unfortunately the HR Department is not strong enough to lead in strategic discussions. |
HR is trying to support the organisation but it is not being effective in doing so. The major failures can include the high turnover and the extremely long recruitment process that are seriously impacting the departments and the organisation as a whole. The HR Department should transform to be strong and they should be role models in various aspects. HR should be able to provide the strategic discussion with facts and important figures that will inform future decisions.
Barriers to the HR reaching the level of a strategic partner include:
Human resource integration is a key aspect of the strategic leadership of an organisation. According to Ireland and Rothwell (2001), strategic leadership is the ability of an individual to come up with changes that will create a viable future for an organisation. In this regard, HR integration is realised once an organisation ascribes to the true meaning of strategic leadership. The definition provides a summary of the major competencies that a leader should demonstrate within the organisation.
Human resources integration from the perspective of leadership helps to explain vertical integration. From the literature review, it was established that vertical integration takes into account the linking the organisational strategy to the departmental strategies and the functional strategies. Jackson and Schuler (2000) point out that the link is meant to trickle down to the policies, procedures and processes of an organisation. Vertical integration ensures that all activities are implemented and carried out in line with the organisational needs. Once the vertical integration falls into place, the success of the organisational strategy is imminent.
According to the respondents to the interview, Anonymous 1 and 3, there is a disconnect between what leadership should look like and what is actually happening at the Institute. The current leadership at the Institute lacks flexibility, strategic thinking, and collaboration with others to initiate and sustain change within the organisation. Strategic leadership is demonstrated through a collective effort of dialogue on the subject. However, the interviews revealed a major finding to the extent that the HR Department is not involved in most of the strategic discussions that take place (Truss & Gratton 1994). According to the secondary data that was collected through the survey (Appendix E), it is evident that there is a deep vacuum in leadership at the organisation.
Strategic leadership encourages discussions on hr policies like training and development. HR integration is realised courtesy of an appropriately trained workforce. The integration of human resource finds applicability in a number of studies. For instance, study carried out by Gilley and Eggland (as cited in Wan et al. 2002) sought to determine the effects of human resource development and integration. Gilley and Eggland found that the employees of an organisation require constant training to sure they adapt to the current trends. To this end, training and development of an organisation’s workforce brings about HRA integration.
Strategic training and development is associated with practice. According to Takeuchi et al. (2003), the employees in an organisation are required to undergo constant practice to ensure they adapt to new HR strategies. Teo and Crawford (2005) affirm this and argue that the ‘learning activity’ referred to by Gilley and Eggland (and cited in Teo & Crawford 2005) is essential for the enhancement of HR integration in an organisation. The benefit of strategic leadership (with respect to training and development) is seen in the improvement of skills for individual employees.
The return on investment (ROI) is another concept associated with strategic training and development. The university is constantly making Human Resource investments. Sufficient adaptation of such investments has a bearing on a company’s performance. Ulrich and Brockbank (2005) underscore this notion by making reference to the fundamental aspect of doing business. Organisations venture into business for profit. In this regard, the intellectual profit at the university is dependent On HR integration. The return on investment is an integral part of evaluating HR integration.
An organisation’s workforce is subjected to endless research upon which newer technologies are realised. To this end, a company is entitled to tangible results due to the implementation of a training and development program. Wall and Wood (2005) posit that one of the reasons as to why the companies opt for an operational training and development program is that it has a faster ROI. The ROI due to a strategic approach is unpredictable, especially when there is too much forecasting to be carried out.
When strategic training and development is regarded as a learning process, the underlying objective is the improvement of a company’s performance. As already mentioned, the improvement is realised through the emergent technologies of the innovative endeavour. To this end, Perez (as cited in Wall & Wood, 2005) recommends that the knowledge acquired through the training endeavour must be seen to improve the entire performance of a business. The same necessitates the categorisation of the organisational learning. Gravetter and Forzano (2011) found that organisational learning can be categorised as follows:
- Acquisition of information
- Dissemination of information
- A shared interpretation of the information
- The development of an organisational memory
Organisational knowledge involves the migration of information into a given enterprise. By categorising organisational learning into the four dimensions, above, the understanding is that information has various characteristics. For instance, Truss (2003) argues that the acquisition of information implies that knowledge can be transmitted from one person to another. Consequently, its percolation into an organisation becomes feasible.
Given that training and development is regarded as a learning process, it follows that there are phases involved. There are five phases in the learning process. Preparation is the first phase. According to Truss (2003), every organisation must prepare for the introduction of new knowledge. The second phase is the information exchange where a company’s employees are allowed to obtain the necessary information that will improve their skills (Truss et al. 2012). The third phase involves the acquisition of the new knowledge and the necessary practice. The final phase is the transfer and integration where the information acquired by the staff is required to reflect on the performance of an organisation.
There is no clear vision of the future and there is no accountability for the decisions taken by the leaders. There is no representation of the long term vision for the development of the Institute by the leadership. Governance is used as red card for whatever political reason but not used for the greater benefit of the institute. The authority and responsibility (in the form of control over the budget) must be given to individuals familiar with the university. They include those actually doing the work the university is supposed to be doing. Until that happens, the university will continue to flounder.
The leadership at the Institute seems to be moving in a very reactive approach to what happens on a daily basis in the dynamic and ever changing academic institution. The organisation is drifting from crisis to crisis due to poor leadership at critical positions. The relation between the President and the Provost was and is not clear which creates division among the faculty and, sometimes, conflicting decisions and directions. The relation between Dean of Research and the Academic Department Heads is not clear and there is a lot of duplication in their respective job descriptions. There is a serious division that is visible among members of the senior management team, such as the President’s team versus the Provost’s team (Wall & Wood 2005).
The staff relations illustrated is not healthy for a young organisation like Mirsat Institute. The poor working relation at the leadership level sets a very bad example to all faculty and staff (Takeuchi et al. 2003). Moreover, this completely disrupts the follow of the research and other critical projects that can take the organisation to the next level. The disconnect in leadership has had and continues to have a detrimental effect on the integration and alignment of HR practices
There is a perception, among the members of staff that the management wants to achieve the Institute’s goals but does not have a clear plan or strategy in place. The same explains why many members of the senior management are just seeking a personal achievement. According to Klassen and Jacobs (2001), an appropriate employee training mechanism has the potential to improve working relations. Klassen and Jacobs (2001) point out that operational training and development ensured allows employees to collectively meet the objectives of an organisation. To this end, the study recommends strategic training and development is beneficial in the sense that HR integration becomes a collective effort
The interviews found that members of staff at the university seem to forget why they are in these specific positions. According to the findings most of the employees illustrated their ignorance about the impact of the responsibility they are holding. Important issues are totally neglected and authorities are completely kept in their hand. Authority and power are not shared and seems as though management is running a one-man show. According to CIPD (2013), the major challenge that HR leaders and Business agree on is the leadership capability. This supports the fact that the issues within this organisational need are extremely critical and needs major attention (Chatterjee 2007).
The structure of the leadership team has fallen apart so many times that there is no continuity or direction to the structure of MI. There is a distinct difference between an industrial / business organisation and an academic research organisation. Findings from the interview reveal that there is a lack of understanding of the difference business and academic aspects of the institution. According to CIPD (2013), such a perspective is referred to as the silo effect. The silo effect impacts on the formulation of the strategy and further drives the lack of integration of these stakeholders to the administration strategy and the HR strategy (Wei 2006).
The literature review provides an analysis of strategy with respect to HR integration. Discussion on human resource In the literature review a quote by Truss et al. regarding strategic human resource management was illustrated. Truss et al. posit that strategic human resource management is an integral part of modern organisations. It helps the management to effectively utilise the human resource for the benefits of the company.
The argument by Truss (2012, p. 88) clearly outlines the link of the HR strategy to that of the entire organisation. In this regard, human resource strategies are seen to provide a link between the workforce and how they fit in realising the goals of an organisation. The elements focused on include recruitment, performance and development towards achieving the strategic goals. HR plays a critical role in informing this aspect of the strategy because it manages all the activities that will make this happen. Human resource strategies take into account the employees in perspective of the organisation as a whole as well as the external environment.
The secondary data in Appendix E, most of the respondents perceive that the sense of a shared vision and working towards a common goal is lacking in the organisation and that there is a lot of conflict that is being cascaded down. The current strategy at the Institute is all for yourself and none for all. There is not a unifying strategy that clearly dictates the long term direction of MI. The strategy seems to change as needed for the person involved to get what is best for them. Most respondents in the survey, Appendix E, do not understand the overall Institute strategy and what a research university really is or what it should stand for. According to Anonymous 2, HR does not have the academic acumen and HR does not understand what its role should be within an academic setting. Due to that HR is not invited in to any strategic discussion and is expected to only focus on the operational aspects of its functions.
The literature review pointed out that HR strategies are usually created and designed in accordance with those of a particular organisation. Jackson and Schuler (2000) point out that, formulating HR strategies, in accordance to organisational objectives, helps to tap into its transformation and transactional components. The two components enable a company’s human resources’ department to come up with an ideal plan with respect to the horizontal and vertical aspects of the strategy. Integration, on this perspective becomes easy.
The development of an ideal HR strategy requires leadership that is both proactive and competent. Lockwood (2005, p. 16) pointed out that human resource professionals are required to have a firm grasp on how best to integrate all the organisational objectives. On a separate note, Gravetter and Forzano (2011) emphasised that HR professionals must use their respective roles to realise the organisational strategy. In the literature review, he arguments raised by Lockwood (2005) outlined the most appropriate link between the needs of an organisation and the best fit as far as HR strategies are concerned. Lockwood (2005, p. 76) advanced the idea that examining HR strategies from that perspective enables the practitioners to become strategic partners with respect to an organisation’s strategy. In a separate study, Arthur and Boyles (2007, p. 78) argue that the arguments raised by Lockwood (2005) enable HR practitioners to become change agents. In this regard the HR practitioner is tasked with the responsibility of bringing about transformation and change within an organisation which in turn contributes to its integration
Isolated strategic planning processes are the most dominant practices within the Institute other major players are not involved in the discussion phase. Moreover, employees are not engaged with the planning process. Subject matter experts are not consulted in almost everything. Planning is done with less vision and minimal knowledge, and everyone is focused on themselves. According to CIPD (2013), 43% of HR leaders believe that the economic recession actually gave HR the opportunity to demonstrate its potential in making a strategic contribution.
Human resource systems are dependent on the theoretical framework of the subject. The literature review examined theoretical models for HR strategy integration. According to Teo (2000), the ‘Best Practice’ framework assumes that there is only one way in which a human resources strategy can be realised in a given company. The Best Fit approach was also discussed in the literature review. According to Teo (2000), the best fit approach takes into account disparities in various organisations. The best fit framework ensures that HR policies are managed differently in each situation and circumstance. Consequently, understanding how to integrate HR policies from the two models becomes less complicated.
Systems include the processes and procedures which illustrate the activities and how decisions are made. Truss (2003) describes the 7S McKinney Model in their paper. They view it as a system that focuses on the internal organisation of a firm. It is especially interested on how the units are structured and function. Based on the secondary data in Appendix E, it is apparent that many respondents believe that there are evident weaknesses in the Institute’s systems and that they are not user friendly. Every single department in the Institute does everything it is capable of to slow down and impede the progress of the research units.
The findings regarding the systems were realised from the researcher’s observation and full participation in the Performance Management Initiative. The Performance management initiative was meant to introduce a transformational and strategic change in the Institute. The interview results indicated that there most members of the management staff rejected to be held accountable for their actions. Systems are implemented and blocked for various individual agendas and interested as opposed to keeping the organisational interest as the primary focus.
The literature review found that the best fit model was best understood from the perspective of a competitive advantage. The study carried out by Chan et al. (2004, p. 23) found that the Porter’s Five Competitive Strategies enable the establishment of human resource practices which are aligned with an organisation’s core objectives. The understanding is derived from the idea that core objectives are developed to counter existing competition. The Porter’s Five Strategies examine various employee behaviours. For instance, redundant employee behaviour of this institute can be remedied by developing a HR policy that clearly outlines job descriptions (Chan et al. 2004, p. 38). The policy is derived from cost as a competitive advantage.
Human Resource Policies and Procedures
Policies and Procedures are the guidelines in which an organisation can conduct its activities. According to the survey respondents as well as the Anonymous 1 and 2, there is a lack of clarity and visibility of the Institute’s Polices as well as the departmental policies. The Institute has a set of policies and procedures on human resource. However, there are no publications and references of such documents in the public domain. Separately, there are no written or academic policies that insure fairness and uphold academic integrity both at the academic and research levels. Also the administrative policies and procedures are not shared with all departments, so practices are shared by word of mouth as opposed to referring to actual approved documents.
In the first chapter, an analysis of the prevailing atmosphere at Masdar Institute revealed that human resource management strategy hinges on operational and functional aspects. In this regard, HRM was found to be dependent on a reactive approach. According to Lipman (2013), a reactive HRM approach is one which focuses on tactical and operational issues alongside the functional integrity. An evaluation of the institution revealed that, based on the direction of the Institution, HR integration should be a key strategy.
Organisations that desire growth are required to take into account HR integration. Anderson (2013) argues that HR integration allows a company to advance itself towards its strategic vision. A look at the interview responses in Archer’s Mission Critical Modernising Human Resource Management in Higher Education validates this point. The individuals interviewed informed how they had benefited from the approach as far as managing their organisation was concerned. In spite of the various challenges associated with the strategy, it is apparent that it is one of the most effective approaches.
In chapter three, there was mention of previous surveys carried out to evaluate HR integration at Masdar Institute. In chapter one, there was mention of a survey in the Institution, which was carried out in 2 years before then. The survey involved information which included benchmarking with some of the major higher education institutions in the United States. As previously mentioned, the outcome of that study indicated that Higher Education Human Resources Management is shifting into a more strategic role. For instance, the HR Professionals meeting in Stanford proposed substantial changes with respect to human resources at university level. In this regard, substantial changes in the organisation structure helps to reinforce the significance of the HR function into the entire institution.
The first thing that was done was that the HR Department was shifted and its reporting line was directly to the highest ranking official in the University and the entire function was empowered to become a strategic partner. To ensure alignment to the innovation strategy, the approach needs to shift to the one where HR is the driving force in the development of the strategy. This will require a sold HR vision and mission that can be translated into a fully integrated and aligned HR strategy that will steer the organisational capabilities and resources towards achieving the overall institution’s strategy. This should be cascaded to all the functions within the department in order to align them to the Innovation strategy.
Looking at the current context of the Institution, it is visible that the HR initiates ideas and they are discussed and debated and the consequences of implementation are analysed by multiple parties who may or may not fully understand the role of HR. This has caused the HR initiatives to over-analysed and over-criticised by non-HR professionals who may not completely understand the value and impact of these proposals. This hinders HR from providing proactive approaches that will support the organisation.
Not having any written policy allows the leadership to shape and decide on how to apply their perceived administrative decisions on an adhoc basis. When policies are designed and ready to be implemented (which takes time and effort), it is noted that employees are dumped with a lot more new projects with higher priorities. So that would mean, policies were never the priority. This causes employees and managers to become extremely frustrated with the entire process. Due to these issues, it is difficult to audit the policies, procedures and practices when it comes to their alignment to the strategies and their integration of all the key stakeholders and departments.
There is no contention that strategic training and development has a direct impact on an organisation’s core objectives. MacPherson, Homan and Wilkinson (2005) carried out a study to examine the implementations and subsequent application of an e-learning program in a corporate university. The study was prompted by the need to create a universal access to education while at the same time maintaining quality standards. One of the key findings of the study was that a competent workforce was needed for the implementation of the relatively new mode of education (Truss et al. 2012). Consequently, the study found that the onus of implementing the strategic training and development lies with the human resource department of an organisation.
In the current business environment, training and development has become a trend. O’Toole and Lawler (as cited in Teo 2000) suggest that the process ought to be continual. While supporting a similar opinion, Salvi (2013) suggests that organisations ought to focus on a continual training and development regimen to meet the rapid changes in technology. There are other studies which suggest that exportation of jobs forces industry stakeholders to emphasise on strategic training and development. Salvi (2013) emphasises that training and development needs to be continual to sustain new ideas owing to the shortcomings of formal education.
Transparency and Trust
A weak strategic approach coupled with weak leadership, it makes it extremely difficult to have a transparent and trusting culture. According to Sheehan (2005), the absence of transparency and trust in an organisation impedes on any hr integration function. Companies that do not publish this critical information and fail to communicate the same to employees breed mistrust within their respective workforces. Employees begin to feel sidelined and consequently become frustrated.
The following examples are an illustration of how the lack of transparency and distrust manifests in some HR related areas.
- Research funding requires a transparent process with feedback and there is a general perception that funding is allocated arbitrarily under unknown criteria. This is because of the lack of transparency and trust between the Office of Sponsored Programs, Finance and the Faculty members.
- Faculty hiring and promotion standards are somehow worrying; there is a slight perception of friend-driven faculty early promotion without the credentials for even being hired as assistant professorship in the first place. This is because of the lack of transparency and trust between the Dean’s Office, the HR Department, and the Faculty Members.
- The same perception exists among faculty recent hires. Extremely junior international recent PhDs are hired with no experience and research credentials risking them to fail as they might not be ready to cope with all faculty responsibilities without previous postdoc experience. There is perception among faculty of bias in hiring towards certain nationalities and friendships. This is because of the lack of transparency and trust between the Recruitment, the Dean’s Office and the Faculty members.
These examples clearly demonstrate the lack of integration between the functions, HR included, which in turn causes overlapping responsibilities or major gaps. The execution of the Administrative procedures is very deficient and there is no tracking unless endless follow up takes place (Ahmad 2012, p. 37). This is the largest burden to faculty and research staff currently and this is caused by their lack of confidence in the administrative functions. Management, when approached regarding this issue, threatens with insecure remarks, illusions and un-secured directions which aggravates the feeling of distrust even more.
In this chapter, a discussion of the findings from the primary and secondary sources of data is outlined. The findings from the interview are compared to those obtained in the literature review. The chapter provides a foundation for making the necessary recommendation for the study
Conclusions and Recommendations
The current section examines the findings of this study in relation to the problem statement. The discussion in this section focuses on the evaluating whether the findings satisfy the underlying questions of this study. The conclusion provides a summary of the findings and how best they help in advancing the thesis statement. Consequently a number of proposals are raised, laying the foundation for further research in the field.
Preview of the Problem Statement
As previously discussed, the institution is faced with a major problem of integrating the unwritten reactive HR strategy to conform to the core objectives and directions. The second problem faced by the university is the inability to integrate its human resource strategy to its functions. Consequently, the HR Department is inhibited from supporting the vision and mission of the entire institution. To this end, there are a number of barriers created with respect to meeting the university’s human capital requirements. In this regard, the researcher developed an argument based on the thesis statement that “training and development is ideal to realising HR integration in an organisation”.
The discussions in this dissertation have revolved around several techniques that can realise HR integration in an organisation. The findings have a bearing on hr integration at Marsat institute. Consequently, a variety of initiatives and interventions are recommended. The recommendations are made from an organisation standpoint relevant to each area that was conducted in the study. The recommendations in this section are required to be analysed by the relevant authorities to allow for the necessary action to be effected within the coming quarter. Senior Management, with the support of the HR department is required to collaborate in effecting the proposals made. A comprehensive application of the recommendations has a transformational impact on the organisation. Moreover, imbedded within these initiatives, the researcher included HR-related initiatives that would support such a major shift within the organisation.
Recommendations touching on a shared direction
Findings of this study reveal that hr integration is best realised when an organisation has a shared direction in all its Strategies. In light of this, the following recommendations are made:
- The university should establish a broad based Institutional Direction. The institutional direction should illustrate how it is shared with the inter-division and Departmental directions. Then a strong communication plan should be developed and implemented to raise the awareness of this strategic direction. This will slowly build the sense of belonging of the employees and they will be able to see the direction of the Institute and their potential role in getting it there.
- An extensive session that is facilitated by an external academic expert should be conducted with all member of the leadership team. This will create a platform that will allow all parties to input towards the strategy. The participants should iron out their differences and agree on an approach that will enable the Institute to move faster in its growth phase. The development of continuous and yearly workshops and retreats to have strategic perspectives and direction discussed and shared on a regular basis.
- The President should send periodic announcements in collaboration with reporting divisions. This communication tool will serve as a reminder to all employees regarding the Institute’s direction.
- HR should develop and continuously enhance the effectiveness of Internal Communication channels and diversify them so that employees are more engaged with the direction.
- The Institute’s values should be regularly displayed and communicated to all the employees. This starts from the President’s Office and cascaded down to all staff members. These values should be incorporated in the performance management cycle to ensure that they are regularly enforced.
- The development of Employee Objectives linked to Department and further more to Institute wide strategy is critical for the consistency and provides a strong sense of belonging and purpose. This will be achieved through a robust Objective-driven Performance Management System that records and evaluated them on a regular basis.
- The creation of a development program that instils the strategic direction, values and supports the employee objectives is critical to the up-skilling of the workforce towards a unified approach.
- The development of employee engagement surveys and subsequently employee engagement events that emphasise the shared direction, strategy, values and other topics which are extracted from the surveys.
- A recognition system that is geared towards encouraging the demonstration of a shared direction, the dedication towards the execution strategy, and the continuous practice and behaviours that exemplify the values will strengthen the message and shape a more nurturing culture.
Results oriented recommendations
HR integration is essential in enabling an organisation to satisfy all its projected goals. The following recommendations are made to ensure that HR integration is result oriented.
- The Institute’s Strategic Plan should clearly define the key deliverables and results from each Objective.
- The Strategic plan should be shared with all employees, faculty members and researchers in a joint setting which will enhance the collaborations and develop the constructive relationships between the different parties.
- The results should be realistic and accountable, so that all employees may clearly see the results that they should focus on. A strong performance management system will enable the tracking and measuring of these objectives. This will prove to be an objective process that will provide clarity and transparency to all staff and faculty members.
- The outcome of the academic divisions and research projects should be shared regularly to motivate the organisation into seeing the tangible results that they supported.
- As a second stage, major achievements of supportive departments should be showcased so that faculty members and researchers can appreciate the efforts of these departments towards serving them better.
Recommendation meant to meet institutional challenges
- The Institute should foster an open environment where employees may voice their challenges, concerns and constructive criticism in a safe and positive manner. These discussions should involve members of the Executive team so that they can connect and be engaged with the employees. This open culture will showcase the importance of every member of the Institute and the value of their expertise and opinions.
- The Institute should support a more transparent approach in its dealings, especially in terms of communicating new and existing ideas, presenting new initiatives, or re-emphasising the strategic direction. This transparency will minimise the levels of the distrust and suspicion. It will also make them feel involved in everything related to the organisation.
Recommendations in terms of the accountability and commitment
- The management style adopted within the Institute should shift from a less micro management approach to one that is empowering to the employees. They should be given more responsibilities, more accountabilities and more engagement in the strategic and the decision making process.
- Appointing employee accountable by supporting through some sort Recognition systems.
- We ensure we have the necessary details to make informed decisions
- We speak up and commit to what we each need to do to implement the decisions
Recommendations in terms of the trust
- Insecurity is very high within the Institute’s environment. Employees don’t have trust within each other and furthermore, they do not trust the senior management and the HR Department. Naturally, this is reflected negatively in the organisation’s culture and the general atmosphere within the departments. So HR with the support of senior leaders should understand the Insecurity issues and develop initiatives and schemes to address and resolve them.
- The organisational culture should allow the team to celebrate their success and give the employees the opportunity to spend time to learn from their failures. This will encourage and empower the staff to trust the management, the system, and the HR Department. This will reflect great positivity since this will benefit them on a professional level.
- The Institute and senior management should allow team members to be brave enough to openly admit their weaknesses and mistakes. They should provide a supportive environment for their employees so that they can regain their trust.
Recommendations in terms of the high quality thinking and creativity
- Employees are currently sceptical to share, discuss or explore new ideas, so the HR Department should develop a suggestion and reward scheme that encourages the employees to share their ideas and suggestions. By giving ownership and recognising their respective ideas, this will result in a more nurturing and innovative culture, which is in line with the Institute’s values.
- HR should introduce a town hall meeting, with the support of senior leaders, to give the employees a platform and to listen to them with respect and interest.
- Once HR receives feasible ideas, a meeting should be arranged where the employee can present it and facilitate a discussion towards the implementation of the ideas.
Recommendations in terms of the outward focus
- Management should take the lead in having service catalogues in place and published and shared so that all employees are aware of what is offered internally.
- There needs to be focal documents that are to be established by each Department in order to share the internal services with the employees. Also empowering employees to represent their services in the form of workshops can give them a sense of ownership and accomplishment.
Recommendations in terms of the strategy
- The Institute’s Strategy should be designed in collaboration with all the strategic partners including HR and then it should be shared collectively to all through town hall meetings, workshops and other communication channels.
- Institute wide Objectives should be developed and should be aligned with employee objectives. A top to bottom alignment exercise should be conducted so that all employees can visualise the link of their role and their contribution to the Strategy
- It is critical for HR to use the individual employee objectives as annual performance indicator, which will transform the current traditional and subjective Performance Management System to a more objective and performance driven system.
Recommendations in terms of the systems
The Institute’s systems should include all Polices, Infrastructures, e-forms, communications, other documents. This comprehensive system will support the strategic objectives and facilitate the employees’ performance.
The current section examines the findings of this study in relation to the problem statement. The findings point to the absence of a sense of direction in the university. Some of the challenges faced by the institution result from the inability the institutional leadership to foster a team spirit. Misrat University also lacks a central and strategic Human Resource strategy. To this end, integration of HR strategies in an organisation is dependent on developing a team effort. In this regard, the best fit theoretical model would be ideal. However, there is need for further research since human resource integration is dependent on a number of features which were not covered in the current study.
The final chapter re-evaluates the thesis statement. Based on the discussions a number of recommendations are provided to aid in responding to the research questions of this study. The conclusion summarises the entire study calling for further research touching on the factors that promote HR integration.
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Appendix A: Dissertation Statement of Originality
Except for those parts in which it is explicitly stated to the contrary, this works is my own. If has not been previously submitted for assessment at this or any other institution.
|1||I have included a full reference list using the Harvard Style of referencing|| |
|2||I have provided Harvard style references for all the ideas, empirical evidence and other materials I have used|| |
|3||I have referenced all passages from my source material|| |
|4||Wherever I have copied someone else’s words, I have clearly shown in the text how much was copied by using speech marks|| |
|5||I have not committed any falsification. This means I have not presented invented data, by for example claiming that I have conducted interviews or sent out questionnaires when I have not, or altering or making up my results|| |
|6||I can make available evidence of originality, including notes, photocopies, drafts, primary data and computer files.|| |
|7||I attach a CD with the electronic file of the dissertation|| |
Appendix B: Statement of Informed Consent
The MA research project, “The Integration and Alignment of the Current HR Strategy in the Institution” is conducted by Nadia Abdulla and is part of my dissertation research at Middlesex University Dubai Business School. The MAHRM supervisor is Dr. Lein Els at Middlesex University Dubai Business School.
Nadia is interviewing me as part of the above mentioned MAHRM dissertation project:
- You have the right to halt and to end the interview at any point in time, without having to give a reason.
- All data, whether audio or written transcripts, will be treated as personal under the 1998 UK Data Protection Act, and will be stored in secure repository by Nadia.
- Interviews will be transcribed based on the conversation by the researcher herself.
- Data collected may be processed manually or with the aid of computer softwares.
- Data collected will be used within the MAHRM research project. When I will use data from your interview, such as statements or direct quotes, I will anonymise your data so that you and the organisation cannot be identified. A copy of your interview can be provided to you on request.
Based on the information given above and the information I have received about the research project and my role as an interviewee:
- I agree to participate in this interview.
- I agree that the researcher will be taking notes during the interview.
- I agree that the data is used for research purposes only within the aforementioned MAHRM project.
- I understand the terms with which the interview will be conducted and material used, as described above and as agreed by me on this form.
- I have had the opportunity to ask questions about the research project, about the interview/questionnaire and about how the data is being used.
|Name of Respondent|
Appendix C: Supervisor Contact Sheet
|Name of Supervisor|
|Contact Date||Topics Discussed||Agreed Suggestions and Actions|
|June 22nd2014 |
3pm – Telephone conversation
|Review of the initial draft and refining the research topic and research approach||Refine chapter one and review chapter two|
|July 6th2014 – face-to-face meeting||Review of the second draft of the research. Shared some critical challenges in my investigation that my cause some issues and hinder my work. Relayed some major gaps relevant to the HR Strategy||Work on Chapter three and design interview questions. |
|September 4th2014 – Via email||Received feedback on the draft.||To add more information in Chapter one. To work on the Harvard Referencing. To avoid essay writing.|
|September 20th2014 – Telephone call||Discussion regarding chapters 3, 4 and 5.||To add academic underpinning and analysis|
To establish an effectiveness and efficiency of Institute, strategic objectives, values, structure, systems and strategies. Also to Capture INSTITUTE Employees feedback on their perspective of INSTITUTE effectiveness and Efficiency and to establish areas of improvement and enhancement within INSTITUTE Strategic objectives, values, accountabilities, structure, systems & strategies and to collectively contribute towards change in making INSTITUTE Governance a success model.
INSTITUTE Health Check Model 2013
How Analyses, Recommendation and Priority Statement were conducted:
- Sum total value of average value of question.
- Divide by the number of questions.
- Average calculated reflects average value.
- Divide the average value calculated by 4: to establish % respondent feedback.
- Sum and divide standard deviation total by the total number of questions asked, this will help establish Respondent feedback accuracy.
- Segment the highest standard deviation with the lowest Average value to establish priority statement.
Question Responses Summarised:
- All respondent were not confident to reflect their profile due to transparency.
- Total respondents are 146.
Questions and Findings
Shared Direction- Do We have shared direction at institute?
- Average value for shared value= 2.57
- 64% think we don’t have Shared Direction.
- Accuracy compounded to average 0.975 or 97% from total response.
Focus on Results- Are we collectively as employee Focused towards Same results
- Average Value for Focus on Results = 2.54
- 63% think we are not focused on our Results
- Accuracy compounded to average 0.98 or 98% from total response.
Challenges- Do we have challenges within?
- Average Value on INSTITUTE Challenges = 2.3
- 57% think we have lot of Challenges with INSTITUTE.
- Accuracy compounded to average 0.99 or 99% from total response.
Accountability- Are we Accountable to our Task?
|Answer||Instituten Value||Max |
|1||Everyone clarifies and communicates to areas of accountability||1.00||4.00||2.32||0.89||110|
|2||We support each other’s ideas to gain collective success||1.00||4.00||2.51||0.94||110|
|3||We support each other as a team and remain collectively above the accepted INSTITUTE standards||1.00||4.00||2.53||0.89||110|
|4||We look after for each other. No one is left alone to struggle||1.00||4.00||2.41||0.94||110|
|5||We achieve our objectives to keep our promises||1.00||4.00||2.77||0.88||110|
- Average value on INSTITUTE Accountability = 2.5
- 62% think we don’t have accountability within INSTITUTE.
- Accuracy compounded to average 0.90 or 90% from total response.
Commitment – Are we committed to INSTITUTE?
|#||Answer||Instituten Value||Max Value||Average Value||Standard Deviation||Responses|
|1||When you walk into the room, there is positive energy and an enthusiastic ambience||1.00||4.00||2.37||0.92||110|
|2||Team members know what their peers are working on and how each contributes to the team||1.00||4.00||2.46||0.94||110|
|3||We ensure we have the necessary details to make informed decisions||1.00||4.00||2.36||0.96||110|
|4||Everyone feels their ideas and opinions are given a fair hearing before the final decision||1.00||4.00||2.28||0.94||110|
|5||At the end of discussions, everyone is clear what has been decided and who will do what||1.00||4.00||2.41||0.92||110|
|6||Whatever the disagreements during the meetings, everyone leaves confident of remaining committed to one decision||1.00||4.00||2.41||0.93||110|
|7||We speak up and commit to what we each need to do to implement the decisions||1.00||4.00||2.54||0.95||110|
- Average value on INSTITUTE Commitment = 2.3
- 57% think we are not committed.
- Accuracy compounded to average 0.90 or 90% from total response.
|#||Answer||Instituten Value||Max Value||Average Value||Standard Deviation||Responses|
|1||Team members are brave enough to openly admit their weaknesses and mistakes||1.00||4.00||2.15||0.95||104|
|2||When team members say or do something inappropriate or possibly damaging, they take the initiative to apologise and set things right||1.00||4.00||2.34||0.91||104|
|3||Team members know about each other’s lives outside work that helps in bonding and building the level of trust||1.00||4.00||2.28||0.79||104|
|4||Team members share facts without reservations about each other and the issues||1.00||4.00||2.38||0.91||104|
|5||We take time to understand each other’s needs and concerns in each new situation||1.00||4.00||2.36||0.93||104|
|6||The team celebrates success and spends time to learn from failures||1.00||4.00||2.33||1.02||104|
- Average Value Feeling Trusted = 2.3
- 57% think we are not trusted.
- Accuracy compounded to average 0.91 or 91% from total response.
High Quality Thinking- Do we encourage Ideas and Creativity within each other?
|#||Answer||Instituten Value||Max Value||Average Value||Standard Deviation||Responses|
|1||We inspire each other to think creatively||1.00||4.00||2.51||0.92||104|
|2||We listen with respect and interest, treating each other as equals||1.00||4.00||2.58||1.02||104|
|3||We are curious to explore each other’s minds||1.00||4.00||2.37||0.97||104|
|4||We take time to discuss and fully explore important topics||1.00||4.00||2.50||1.00||104|
|5||We appreciate each other’s positive ideas, behaviours and actions||1.00||4.00||2.64||0.96||104|
|6||We enjoy working together and are able to have fun and be serious at the right time||1.00||4.00||2.65||0.96||104|
- Average Value Feeling Trusted = 2.5
- 63 % think we don’t encourage ideas and creativity within.
- Accuracy compounded to average 0.97 or 97% from total response.
Outward Focus- Do we understand our stakeholders (internal/ external)?
|#||Answer||Instituten Value||Max Value||Average Value||Standard Deviation||Responses|
|1||We remain focused on our internal and external stakeholders||1.00||4.00||2.69||0.84||102|
|2||We record clearly the decisions and the actions we need to communicate more widely||1.00||4.00||2.54||0.92||102|
|3||We solicit feedback and take actions||1.00||4.00||2.44||0.93||102|
|4||We ensure that the messages communicated inside and outside the team are consistent and well understood||1.00||4.00||2.45||0.96||102|
- Average value Outward focused = 2.53
- 63 % think we don’t understand what stakeholders or what stakeholder expects from us.
- Accuracy compounded to average 0.91 or 91% from total response.
Strategy- Do we understand our INSTITUTE Strategy?
|#||Answer||Instituten Value||Max Value||Average Value||Standard Deviation||Responses|
|1||We use INSTITUTE Business Plan as our Strategic Objectives||1.00||4.00||2.37||1.01||102|
|2||We use departmental strategic objectives to set individual employee objectives||1.00||4.00||2.34||1.03||102|
|3||We use individual employee objectives as annual performance indicator||1.00||4.00||2.31||1.03||102|
|4||We always discuss and communicate strategic objectives||1.00||4.00||2.27||1.00||102|
|5||We always offer inputs on our strategic plans||1.00||4.00||2.34||0.97||102|
- Average Value Outward focused = 2.3
- 58 % don’t know what INSTITUTE Strategy is.
- Accuracy compounded to average 1.0 or 100 % from total response.
Systems- Do we have compatible Systems in Place?
|#||Answer||Instituten Value||Max Value||Average Value||Standard Deviation||Responses|
|1||We always use INSTITUTE Systems||1.00||4.00||2.81||0.95||98|
|2||We use departmental strategic objectives to set individual employee objectives||1.00||4.00||2.28||0.93||98|
|3||We use individual employee objectives as annual performance indicator||1.00||4.00||2.22||0.99||98|
|4||We always discuss and communicate strategic objectives||1.00||4.00||2.20||0.97||98|
|5||We always offer our inputs on our strategic plans||1.00||4.00||2.41||0.97||98|
- Average Value INSTITUTE Systems = 2.3
- 59 % are not comfortable with INSTITUTE Systems.
- Accuracy compounded to average 0.96 or 96 % from total response.
Appendix E: Strategic Objectives Set By the President of the Institute
President Strategic Objectives for year 2013- 2014- Setting clear Direction.
|Strategic Theme||Strategic Objective||Division Responsible||Key Goals||Weights for Performance measures|
|Develop MI as an intellectual and technological hub in the region||Focus on complex real-world problems that require a multidisciplinary approach from an integrated technology, systems and policy perspective|| ||Will Deliver by aligning MI Research thrust with specific local and technological needs||30%|
|Strengthening Relationships||Develop MI collaborations with Academia, Industry and Government|| ||Will establish and develop local and international opportunities with Industry, Academia and Government. |
Will communicate and brand MI as a leading institute of the world
|IT Systems Advancement||Manage MI as world class technology driven through placing a management systems based on most advanced technologies in information and management sciences|| ||Will deliver M-Applications for Student, Faculty and Support Services |
Will develop Sustainable IT Infrastructure to Match the Evolution in the IT Industry
|Governance||Establish Governance Excellence in terms of Equity, reliance and Transparency|| ||Will deliver Governance Policies, Compliance and Effectiveness in Operational Efficiencies.||30%|
Appendix F: The Strategic Objectives developed by the Vice President’s Office
Appendix G: Participant Observation from the Researcher
In early 2013, I was asked to establish, develop and launch a new Performance Management System that would shift the performance evaluation from a traditional subjective evaluation system to one that is objective and structured. This initiative was directed from the HR Director and Senior Management as I was told. So I started working towards this initiative by using all the tools and techniques learned by the CIPD course in order to ensure that it was up to the best practices standard.
Firstly I started working on the Performance Management Policies, Procedures, Processes and the PM Manual that will be used to manage and guide all employees and management regarding the Objective Setting, the Mid-Year Review, the Final Review as well as the compilation of this information for the purpose of Promotions and Merit Increases. Since this is a new system that has never been introduced and implemented in the organisation, I proposed was a simple and straight forward method that will enable all members of the Institute to participate in this yearly activity. I also proposed that as we go along this project, and when we feel that the organisation grasped this practice, we can then enhance it and add layers to it. My plan was to introduce an average of 5 objectives per employee and advise the line manager to meet with them quarterly to check the progress. And on the mid-year and annual appraisal time, line managers are requested to evaluate each objectives and the level of completion. Moreover, they should rate their employees on the current competency framework that was developed at an earlier stage.
So I developed workshops and presentations to that effect. I shared all the above information with the HR Director and never received feedback on this project; rather I was asked to proceed with it. Based on this understanding and the understanding that senior management were on board with this initiative, I was also told that the President and Vice President’s strategies and objectives were already in place. I drafted an announcement and designed brochures and games that will educate and simplify this concept to the employees. During this time, a new employee joined the organisation and his role was in the Operations Performance, which is linked to the People Performance. This employee began questioning the current method and started adding elements to this project such as weights for each objective and a 4-times a year rating which should be averaged at the end of the year to determine the overall performance of the individual.
There was a long dispute between this individual and the HR Director regarding the matter and finally we were set to launch this system as per the initial framework of simplicity. It was decided that we can add layers at a later stage. So the announcement was sent to all staff members informing them of the workshops. Then a meeting with directors and executive directors was set up where I briefed them all on the changes that were going to take place and get their buy in. An extensive Q&A session took place and towards the end they were all on board. I then worked on a schedule to meet with each department to communicate the same and explain to the strategy and how we are to cascade it down to all employees.
At this point the HR Director decided to take leave and the project was in my hands. The whole team advised her against it but she left anyway. The day after she left, I was called to the President’s office to justify why I am introducing such a initiative to an academic institution. I was questioned for 2 hours and was told that academic institutions do not need objectives and that all employees should know their jobs. He said that if there is an employee who doesn’t know their job shouldn’t be working with us and that this system will make the employees feel like they are being watched. He went on to say that we trust our employees and the culture that this system will bring is unacceptable. I explained to him that because we are a young organisation and that our workforce is young it would be good for them to have objectives as guidelines to what they should be doing for the year. I told him that this system would help line manager to rate the performance of the employees in an objective and transparent manner, which will reflect positively on their morale and motivation. I added that since we already have his strategic objectives and the VP’s strategic objectives that we can easily cascade this down to the department. He then told me that he did not sign on such a document and objects to this initiative. Furthermore, the VP also confirmed the next day in a meeting that he also did not sign off on the strategies and objectives.
I was officially asked to put this project on hold until the HR Director returns back from her leave.
Appendix H: Human Resources Strategic Partnership Interview Questions
This survey evaluates the effective of the HR Department as a Strategic Partner. The information gained in this survey will be used for research purposes and to guide us in developing strategies for corrective action. Please participate in this survey and answer all questions honestly and objectively. Your information will be treated confidentially and you will not be identified by any means. Thank you for your co-operation.
Effectiveness in achieving goals
- Describe how HR participates and continues to the strategic planning process.
- Describe how the HR is effective in scanning the internal and external environment and provides inputs for the strategic planning process.
Effectiveness in the process of delivery
- How does HR provides inputs timeously / pro-actively for the strategic planning process.
- Describe how HR ensures that all relevant data / information and resources are made available to support the strategic planning process.
- What was your experience with HR playing a facilitation role in the strategic discussions?
In the role of Strategic Partner, HR professionals demonstrate the following competencies:
- Knowledge of the Institute (in order to contribute effectively to the planning process)
- Knowledge and skills to deliver HR services and being experts in their field
- Ability to manage change in a dynamic environment
- Knowledge of organisational culture
- Personal credibility
- The ability to influence strategic thinking with regard to organisational issues that have a macro-level impact.
- The display of positive and supportive attitudes when dealing with strategic issues.