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Professor Chris Rowley              GradCIPD, BA, MA (Warwick), DPhil (Nuffield College, Oxford)

Selected Recent Publications

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Some Implications for People Management of Brexit:
Quick Reflections on the Common Scenario

In the immediate Brexit vote aftermath too many so-called serious reports are being let down by the lack of serious and balanced research and grounding. For example the throw-away line of many aspects of UK employment law stem from EU legislation does a great disservice to earlier generations of workers, trade unionists and politicians and policy makers, as well as some current ones, who fought for workers rights in areas from greater equality in terms of race and gender to minimum wages.

Therefore, they are often not a serious analysis of Brexit’s possible impacts on employees as they fail to recognise five key matters. First, employment related laws existed before EU membership. Second, other employment related laws were not EU-led. Third, much depends on the Brexit agreement in terms of continuing to apply EU employment regulations. Fourth, some of the employment related laws stemming from the EU are now embedded in the reality of the actual practical operation of UK people management. Fifth, the EU has not protected worker exploitation, such as via zero hour contracts. Together these points indicate that actually there can be a cogent argument that there may not be great changes in this area.

Professor Chris Rowley              GradCIPD, BA, MA (Warwick), DPhil (Nuffield College, Oxford)

Selected Recent Publications

Human Resource Management and Organisational Effectiveness:
Examples from the Asia Pacific ©

The important practical issue of the management of people, human resource (HR) practitioners and organisational effectiveness is important. This is especially so in the less researched context of Asia Pacific. A major challenge in HR management (HRM) research over the last decade has been to establish clear evidence of the relationships between and contributions of HRM systems, processes and functions to, organisational effectiveness. Whilst strategic HRM (SHRM) theory proposes and promotes these linkages as its key foundation, empirical data to support the theory has to date been scanty and largely confined to small scale studies conducted in the US, UK and Europe and most commonly in particular industry sectors or large organisations. Few such studies have been undertaken in the Asia Pacific region. Of the Asia Pacific HRM studies that have been undertaken, most have attempted to determine whether competitive advantage can be achieved through people and will lead to organisational effectiveness.

Some authors have concluded that HRM practices do have positive causal effects on and are of importance to organisational effectiveness.
The notion of ‘best practice’ in HRM has received considerable attention.Although the adoption of contemporary HRM systems is reportedly slow and cautious in many Asia Pacific countries, some studies have shown that effectiveness in managing HR may also lead to improved business performance and overall organisational effectiveness and if neglected might have detrimental impacts.As an illustration, one Japanese study found a strong positive relationship between HRM practices and labour productivity mediated by HR outcomes in manufacturing small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in Japan. The SME sector is considered to be the backbone of the Japanese economy as it includes 99.7% of all organisations, and accounts for 70% of all employment. However, over the last two decades many SMEs in Japan have gone out of business while the new firm entry rate is showing a downward trend. According to some business advocates, one of the reasons for high rate of business failures in Japanese SMEs is due to the lack of attention to the human side of their businesses.

Other regional studies have also shown a positive effect between HR practices and improved organisational performance and effectiveness. In Malaysia, for example, one study of particular HRM functions – namely, training, employee participation, performance appraisal, and job descriptions – found that in combination, they can have a significant impact on organisational effectiveness. Another Malaysian study, using data from CEOs/managing directors reported that they had specific expectations of the forms of HRM practice that should be developed by their HR professionals. These expectations were that HR managers need to be competent in the main elements of HRM practices, use innovative techniques such as developing employee participation, teamwork, and productivitiy improvement and considered these as important capabilities, but largely lacking in their HR professionals. Another study in Taiwan concluded that HRM effectiveness, including the delivery of high quality technical HRM and strategic HRM in a complementary manner, had positive business outcomes.

Given the establishment of the AEC in 2015, Singapore has significant talent attraction and retention opportunities relative to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, but may struggle to retain its advantages in competition with Australia and New Zealand due to their more attractive employment conditions and lifestyle issues.Given the immense projected increase in talent mobility envisaged by the AEC, the relationship between HRM and organisational effectiveness may become a crucial factor in such developments.

These studies in the Asia Pacific largely suggest that
an organisation’s chosen ‘bundle of HR practices’ affects overall business performance and effectiveness. As well as these HRM practices, perceptions of employees also play important roles in the prediction of organisational commitment, which also may contribute to organisational performance. Employees’ knowledge, skills and expertise acquisition and employee satisfaction have also been seen to be associated with the effectiveness of organisations. Other studies suggest that organisational effectiveness might be measured by assessing the satisfaction and commitment level of employees and customers. Satisfaction and commitment, in turn, was measured by already established tools. Correlation techniques showed that human capital development has a strong significant positive relation with the satisfaction levels of the employees and customers, which would eventually lead to increased organisational effectiveness.

Research on the (HRM) strategic business partner role (SBP) in Indian multinational companies suggests that SHRM is most productive for their corporations when it encompasses three key components – namely, strategic agility (external fit), knowledge management and management development (internal fit). The SBP role of HRM is ‘critical for multinational enterprises’ operating in complex and dynamic business environments focused on competitive advantage’, especially in the Asia Pacific region.

The findings of many studies in both Western and emerging contexts have shown the importance of HRM practices for organisational effectiveness. However, the cause-effect nature of the relationship is still unclear and there is a dearth of empirical evidence which sheds light on the variables in this relationship. Nevertheless,
the primary objectives of SHRM are to contribute to a profitable and sustainable organisation, increase workforce competency and engagement, develop excellence in people management and create a dynamic and productive work environment.

[This article is based on  Nankervis, A., Rowley, C., Salleh, N. 2016, Asia Pacific HRM and Organisational Effectiveness: Implications for practice, London: Elsevier].



Leveraging 'People' Power of Sustainability