1. Introduction
(25%) Provide a brief synopsis of the meaning (not a description) of
each Chapter and articles you read, in your own words.
2. Your Critique
(50%)
What is your reaction
to the content of the articles?
What did you learn
about the strategic management and Human Resources?
What did you learn about
the legal and Financial Environment? Describe and state the most important
implications of law in Human Resources.
Did these Chapters
and articles change your thoughts about Formulating Organizational Strategies?
If so, how? If not, what remained the same?
3. Conclusion
(15%)
Briefly summarize
your thoughts & conclusion to your critique of the articles and Chapter you
read.  How did these articles and
Chapters impact your thoughts on Health care Workforce?
Evaluation will be based on how clearly you respond to the
above, in particular:
a) The clarity with which you critique the articles;
b) The depth, scope, and organization of your paper; and,
c) Your conclusions, including a description of the impact
of these articles and Chapters on any Health Care Setting.Cornell University ILR School
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CAHRS Working Paper Series
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Strategic Management and HRM
Mathew R. Allen
mallen4@babson.edu
Patrick M. Wright
Cornell University, patrick.wright@moore.sc.edu
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Strategic Management and HRM
Abstract
[Excerpt] The purpose of this chapter is to discuss this intersection between Strategic Management and
HRM, what we know, and future directions for SHRM research. We will begin by briefly discussing the
concept of strategy and the popularization of the resource-based view (RBV) of the firm. Next we will address
its role in creating the link between HRM and Strategic Management including key questions that the RBV
has raised in relation to SHRM. We will then examine the current state of affairs in SHRM; the progress made,
and key questions and concerns occupying the attention of SHRM researchers. Finally, we will conclude with
our views on future directions for SHRM research.
Keywords
CAHRS, ILR, center, human resource, studies, advanced, link, information technology, business partner,
strategic role, competencies, HR, HRM, HR professionals, management
Disciplines
Human Resources Management
Comments
Suggested Citation
Allen, M. R. & Wright, P. M. (2006). Strategic management and HRM (CAHRS Working Paper #06-04).
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human
Resource Studies.
http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cahrswp/404/
This article is available at DigitalCommons@ILR: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cahrswp/404
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WORKING PAPER SERIES
Strategic Management and HRM
Mathew R. Allen
Patrick M. Wright
Working Paper 06 – 04
Strategic Management and HRM
CAHRS WP06-04
Strategic Management and HRM
Mathew R. Allen
Patrick M. Wright
Department of Human Resource Studies
School of Industrial and Labor Relations
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
April 2006
http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/cahrs
This paper has not undergone formal review or approval of the faculty of the ILR School. It is
intended to make results of Center research available to others interested in preliminary form to
encourage discussion and suggestions.
Most (if not all) of the CAHRS Working Papers are available for reading at the Catherwood
Library. For information on what’s available link to the Cornell Library Catalog:
http://catalog.library.cornell.edu if you wish.
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Abstract
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Strategic Management and HRM
Introduction
It has been said that the most important assets of any business walk out the door at the
end of each day. Indeed, people and the management of people are increasingly seen as key
elements of competitive advantage (Boxall & Purcell, 2003; Pfeffer, 1998; Gratton, Hailey &
Truss, 2000). Spurred on by increasing competition, fast paced technological change,
globalization and other factors, businesses are seeking to understand how one of the last truly
competitive resources, their human resources, can be managed for competitive advantage.
This idea that the human resources of a firm can play a strategic role in the success of
an organization has led to the formation of a field of research often referred to as strategic
human resource management (SHRM). This relatively young field represents an intersection of
the strategic management and human resource management (HRM) literatures (Boxall, 1998;
Boxall and Purcell, 2000). Wright and McMahan (1992) defined strategic human resource
management as “the pattern of planned human resource deployments and activities intended to
enable the firm to achieve its goals” (1992, p. 298).
The purpose of this chapter is to discuss this intersection between Strategic
Management and HRM, what we know, and future directions for SHRM research. We will begin
by briefly discussing the concept of strategy and the popularization of the resource-based view
(RBV) of the firm. Next we will address its role in creating the link between HRM and Strategic
Management including key questions that the RBV has raised in relation to SHRM. We will then
examine the current state of affairs in SHRM; the progress made, and key questions and
concerns occupying the attention of SHRM researchers. Finally, we will conclude with our
views on future directions for SHRM research.
Strategy And The Resource-Based View Of The Firm
The field of strategy focuses on how firms can position themselves to compete, and its
popularity began increasing exponentially in the mid 1980s with two books. First, Peters &
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Waterman’s (1982) In Search of Excellence provided a practitioner-oriented analysis of
excellent companies and the common threads that united them. However, Porter’s (1980)
Competitive Strategy presented a more academically based analysis of strategy, but in a way
that practitioners/executives quickly gravitated toward. This Industrial/Organization Economicsbased analysis primarily focused on industry characteristics, in particular the five forces of
barriers to entry, power of buyers, power of suppliers, substitutes, and competitive rivalry as the
determinants of industry profitability. While this analysis did propose four generic strategies
(cost, differentiation, focus, and ‘stuck in the middle’), the bulk of the analysis focused on
external factors that determined company profitability. This framework seemed to dominate
strategic management thinking of the early 1980s.
However, with the advent of the resource-based view of the firm (Barney, 1991;
Wernerfelt, 1980), strategic management research moved to a more internal focus. Rather than
simply developing competitive strategies to address the environment, the resource-based view
suggested that firms should look inward to their resources, both physical and intellectual, for
sources of competitive advantage. Though others had addressed the concept of the RBV
previously, Barney (1991) specifically explicated how firm resources contribute to the sustained
competitive advantage of the firm. He suggested that resources that are valuable, rare,
inimitable and non-substitutable will lead to competitive advantage.
Value in this context is defined as resources either exploiting opportunities or
neutralizing threats to the organization and rarity is defined as being a resource that is not
currently available to a large number of the organization’s current or future competitors (Barney,
1991). Inimitability refers to the fact it is difficult for other firms to copy or otherwise reproduce
the resources for their own use. Finally, non-substitutability means that other resources cannot
be used by competitors in order to replicate the benefit (Barney 1991). When all four of these
conditions are met, it is said that the firm or organization possess resources which can
potentially lead to a sustained competitive advantage over time.
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The resource-based view has become almost the assumed paradigm within strategic
management research (Barney and Wright, 2001). It has been the basic theoretical foundation
from which much of the current strategic management research regarding knowledge-based
views of the firm (Grant, 1996), human capital (Hitt et al., 2001), and dynamic capabilities
(Teece, Pisano, & Schuen, 1997) are derived. In fact, Priem and Butler (2001) mapped RBV
studies against eighteen strategy research topics, demonstrating the breadth of its diffusion
within the strategic management domain. More importantly from the standpoint of this chapter,
the resource-based view has become the guiding paradigm on which virtually all strategic HRM
research is based (Wright, Dunford, & Snell, 2001).
In spite of the wide acceptance of the RBV, it is not without criticism. Priem and Butler,
(2001a, b) have leveled the most cogent critique to date suggesting that the RBV does not truly
constitute a theory. Their argument focuses primarily on two basic issues. First, they suggest
that the RBV is basically tautological in its definition of key constructs. They note that Barney’s
statement that “if a firm’s valuable resources are absolutely unique among a set of competing
and potentially competing firms, those resources will generate at least a competitive advantage
(Barney, 2001: 102)” essentially requires definitional dependence. In other words, without
definitional dependence (i.e. “valuable resources”) the diametrical statement – that unique firms
possess competitive advantages – does not logically follow.
Their second major criticism of the RBV as a “theory” focuses on the inability to test it
(Priem & Butler, 2001b). They note the necessity condition of “falsifiability” for a theory. In other
words, in order for a set of stated relationships to constitute a theory, the relationships must be
able to be measured and tested in a way that allows for the theory to be found to be false. This
relates directly to the tautology criticism, but brings the debate into the empirical realm.
In spite of these criticisms, even the critics agree that the impact of the RBV on strategic
management research has been significant and that the effort to focus on the internal aspects of
the organization in explaining competitive advantage has been a useful one (Preim & Butler,
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2001b). While the debate might continue as to the theoretical implications of the RBV for
strategic management research, it is clear that it has made a significant contribution to Strategic
Management and, more specifically, SHRM research (Wright, Dunford & Snell, 2001).
A Brief History Of Strategic HRM
Wright and McMahan’s (1992) definition of strategic human resource management
illustrates that the major focus of the field should be on aligning HR with firm strategies. Jim
Walker’s (1980) classic book, Human Resource Planning, was one of the first to directly suggest
considering a firm’s business strategy when developing a human resource plan. Devanna,
Fombrum, and Tichy’s (1981) article, “Human Resources Management: a Strategic
Perspective”, added to the foundation. These attempts tended to take an existing strategy
typology (e.g. Miles and Snow’s (1978) prospectors, analyzers and defenders) and delineate the
kinds of HRM practices that should be associated with each strategy. These attempts to tie
HRM to strategy have been referred to as “vertical alignment” (Wright & McMahan, 1992).
Beer, Spector, Lawrence, Mills and Walton (1984) introduced an alternative to the
individual HR sub-function framework for HR strategy. They argued that viewing HRM as
separate HR sub-functions was a product of the historical development of HRM and current
views of HR departments. They proposed a more generalist approach to viewing HRM with the
focus on the entire HR system rather than single HR practices. This led to a focus on how the
different HR sub-functions could be aligned and work together to accomplish the goals of HRM
and a more macro view of HRM as whole rather than individual functions. This alignment of HR
functions with each other is often referred to as “horizontal alignment” (see this Handbook,
chapter 19.)
The combination of both vertical and horizontal alignment was a significant step in
explaining how HRM could contribute to the accomplishment of strategic goals. However, given
the external focus of the strategic management literature at that time, HR was seen to play only
a secondary role in the accomplishment of strategy with an emphasis on the role that HRM
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played in strategy implementation, but not strategy formulation. Lengnick-Hall and LengnickHall (1988) stated “strategic human resource management models emphasize implementation
over strategy formulation. Human resources are considered means, not part of generating or
selecting strategic objectives. Rarely are human resources seen as a strategic capacity from
which competitive choices should be derived” (1988, p.456). A shift in strategic management
thinking would be required to change that perception and open the door for further development
of the SHRM literature.
The diffusion of the resource-based view into the Strategic HRM literature spurred this
paradigmatic shift in the view of the link between strategy and HRM. Because the resourcebased view proposes that firm competitive advantage comes from the internal resources that it
possesses (Wernerfelt, 1984; Barney, 1991), the RBV provided a legitimate foundation upon
which HRM researchers could argue that people and the human resources of a firm could in fact
contribute to firm-level performance and influence strategy formulation.
This resulted in a number of efforts to conceptually or theoretically tie strategic HRM to
the resource-based view. For instance, Wright, McMahan, and McWilliams (1994) suggested
that while HR practices might be easily imitated, the human capital pool of an organization might
constitute a source of sustainable competitive advantage. Lado and Wilson (1994) argued that
HR practices combined into an overall HR system can be valuable, unique, and difficult to
imitate, thus constituting a resource meeting the conditions necessary for sustained competitive
advantage. Boxall (1996, 1998) proposed a distinction between human resource advantage
(advantage stemming from a superior human capital pool) and organizational process
advantage (advantage stemming from superior processes for managing human capital).
The resource-based view also provided the theoretical rationale for empirical studies of
how HR practices might impact firm success. One of the early empirical studies of this
relationship was carried out by Arthur (1994). Using a sample of steel mini-mills, he found that a
specific set of HR practices was significantly related to firm performance in the form of lower
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scrap rates and lower turnover. Huselid (1995), in his landmark study, demonstrated that the
use of a set of 13 HRM practices representing a ‘high-performance work system’ was
significantly and positively related to lower turnover, and higher profits, sales, and market value
for the firms studied. In a similar study, MacDuffie (1995), using data from automobile
manufacturing plants, demonstrated that different bundles of HR practices led to higher
performance, furthering the argument that the integrated HR system, rather than individual HR
practices, leads to higher performance. Delery and Doty (1996) similarly demonstrated the
impact of HR practices on firm performance among a sample of banks.
This vein of research quickly expanded in the U.S. (e.g., Batt, 1999; Huselid, Jackson, &
Schuler, 1996; Youndt, Snell, Dean, & Lepak,, 1996), the U.K. (e.g., Brewster, 1999; Guest,
1997; Guest, Michie, Conway, & Sheehan, 2003; Tyson, 1997), elsewhere in Europe (e.g.,
d’Arcimoles, 1997; Lahteenmaki, Story, & Vanhala, 1998; Rodriguez & Ventura, 2003) and Asia
(e.g., Bae & Lawler, 2000; Lee & Chee, 1996; Lee & Miller, 1999), as well as in multinational
corporations operating in multiple international environments (Brewster, Sparrow, and Harris,
2000).
In sum, the RBV, with its focus on the internal resources possessed by a firm, has given
the field a theoretical understanding of why human resources systems might lead to sustainable
competitive advantage and provided the spark to generate empirical research in this vein
(Guest, 2001; Paauwe & Boselie, 2005; , Wright et al, 2005).
Key Questions Raised By The Application Of RBV To SHRM
In spite of the significant amount of research demonstrating a link between HRM
practices and firm performance, there are several key questions regarding the RBV and its
implications for SHRM research that remain unanswered. First, there is some question as to
whether current research on HRM and performance is truly testing the RBV. Second, there is
still a general lack of understanding around the concept of fit, and its role in the link between
strategy and HRM. Third, there are still unanswered questions regarding HRM and whether or
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not HRM defined as systems of HR practices truly constitutes a resource under the conditions
outlined by Barney (1991) and, specifically, whether those resources are truly sustainable over
time. Finally, there are several measurement and methodological issues that, while not within
the direct scope of this chapter, are worth mentioning as they are pertinent to our discussion of
this intersection between Strategic Management and HRM research.
Testing of the RBV within SHRM
While the SHRM research just discussed has used the RBV as a basis for the assertion
that HRM contributes to performance, it has not actually tested the theory that was presented in
Barney’s (1991) article (Wright, Dunford & Snell, 2001). Most of this research has taken a
similar view on how HR practices can lead to firm performance. The model generally argues
that HRM in the form of HR practices directly impacts the employees either by increasing
human capital or motivation or both. This in turn will have an impact on operational outcomes
such as quality, customer service, turnover or other operational level outcomes. These
operational outcomes will in turn impact firm-level outcomes such as financial performance in
the form of revenues, profits or other firm-level measures of performance (Dyer, 1984).
In a similar vein, Wright Dunford and Snell, (2001) point out that there are three
important components of HRM that constitute a resource for the firm that are influenced by the
HR practices or HR system. First, there is the human capital pool comprised of the stock of
employee knowledge, skills, motivation and behaviors. HR practices can help build the
knowledge and skill base as well as elicit relevant behavior.
Second, there is the flow of human capital through the firm. This reflects the movement
of people (with their individual knowledge, skills and abilities) as well as knowledge itself. HR
practices can certainly influence the movement of people. However, more importantly, the types
of reward systems, culture, and other aspects of HRM influence the extent to which employees
are willing to create, share, and apply knowledge internally.
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Third, the dynamic processes through which organizations change and/or renew
themselves constitute the third area illustrating the link between HRM and the resource-based
view of the firm. HR practices are the primary levers through which the firm can change the pool
of human capital as well as attempt to change the employee behaviors that lead to
organizational success.
There appears to be a general consensus among SHRM researchers around the
general model of the HR to performance relationship and the role of HR practices, the human
capital pool, and employee motivation and behaviors as discussed by Dyer (1984) and others.
The implications of this for RBV and SHRM research is that while separate components of the
full HRM to performance model have been tested such as HR practices (Huselid, 1995;
McDuffie, 1995) and human capital (Richard, 2001; Wright, McMahan & Smart, 1995), a full test
of the causal model through which HRM impacts performance has not (Wright, Gardner,
Moynihan, & Allen, 2005; Wright, Dunford & Snell, 2001; Boxall, 1998). Current research has
established an empirical relationship between HR practices and firm performance, but more
remains to be done. By testing the full model, including the additional components of the
human capital pool and employee relationships and behaviors, a more complete test of the
underlying assumptions of the RBV could be established, thus adding credibility to the
theoretical model of the relationship between HRM and performance.
Fit and the Resource-based View of the Firm
In the Priem and Butler (2001) critique of the RBV, one of the points brought up as a
theoretical weakness of the RBV is lack of definition around the boundaries or contexts in which
it will hold. They point out that “relative to other strategy theories … little effort to establish the
appropriate contexts for the RBV has been apparent” (2001 p. 32). The notion of context has
been an important issue in the study of SHRM (Delery & Doty, 1996, Boxall & Purcell, 2000).
Most often referred to as contingencies (or the idea of fit), contextual arguments center on the
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idea that the role that HRM plays in firm performance is contingent on some other variable. We
break our discussion of fit into the role of human capital and HR practices.
Human Capital and Fit. The most often cited perspective for explaining contingency
relationships in SHRM is the behavioral perspective (Jackson, Schuler & Rivero, 1989) which
posits that different firm strategies (other contingencies could be inserted as well) require
different kinds of behaviors from employees. Consequently, the success of these strategies is
dependent at least in part on the ability of the firm to elicit these behaviors from its employees
(Cappelli & Singh, 1992; Wright & Snell, 1998).
Going back to the distinction between human capital skills and employee behavior,
Wright and Snell (1999) noted that skills and abilities tend to be necessary, but not sufficient
conditions for employee behavior. Consequently, any fit to firm strategy must first consider the
kinds of employee behavior (e.g., experimentation and discovery) required to successfully
execute the strategy (e.g., focused on offering innovative products), and the kinds of skills
necessary to exhibit those behaviors (e.g., scientific knowledge). Obviously, the workforce at
Nordstrom’s (an upscale retailer) is quite different from the workforce at Wal-Mart (a discount
retailer). Thus, the resource-based application to SHRM requires focusing on a fit between the
skills and behaviors of employees that are best suited to the firm’s strategy (Wright et al. 1995).
While this idea of fit focuses on across-firm variance in the workforce, Lepak and Snell
(1999) developed a framework that simultaneously addresses variation across firms and
variations in HR systems within firms (see this Handbook, chapter 11). Their model of ‘human
resource architecture’ posits that the skills of individuals or jobs within a firm can be placed
along two dimensions: value (to the firm’s strategy) and uniqueness. Their framework
demonstrates how different jobs within firms may need to be managed differently, but it also
helps to explain differences across firms. For instance, within Wal-Mart, those in charge of
logistics have extremely valuable and unique skills, much more so than the average sales
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associate. On the other hand, at Nordstrom’s, because customer service is important, sales
associate skills are more critical to the strategy than those of the logistics employees.
HR Practices and Fit. The theoretical assumption that the skills and behaviors of
employees must fit the strategic needs of the firm in order for the workforce to be a source of
competitive advantage leads to the exploration of how HR practices might also need to achieve
some form of fit. With regard to vertical fit, as noted previously, business strategies require
different skills and behaviors from employees. Because HR practices are generally the levers
through which the firm manages these different skills and behaviors, one would expect to see
different practices associated with different strategies. For instance, one would expect that firms
focused on low cost might not pay the same level of wages and benefits as firms focused on
innovation or customer service.
Horizontal fit refers to a fit between HR practices to ensure that the individual HR
practices are set up in such a way that they support each other (Boxall & Purcell, 2003; Baird &
Meshoulam, 1988, Delery, 1998). An example of this would be a selection process that focuses
on finding team players and a compensation system that focuses on team-based rewards.
Theoretically, the rationale for horizontal fit suggests that (a) complementary bundles of HR
practices can be redundantly reinforcing the development of certain skills and behaviors
resulting in a higher likelihood that they will occur and (b) conflicting practices can send mixed
signals to employees regarding necessary skills and behaviors that reduce the probability that
they will be exhibited (Becker & Huselid, 1998). There appears to be some agreement in the
literature that both types of fit are necessary for optimal impact of HRM on performance (Baird &
Meshoulam, 1988; Delery, 1998; Delery & Doty, 1996; Boxall & Purcell, 2003), but not
necessarily empirical support for these types of fit (see this Handbook, chapter 27; Wright &
Sherman, 1999).
Potential Pitfalls of Fit. The idea of fit, whether it be vertical or horizontal, raises two
important questions for SHRM researchers. The first question focuses on empirical support for
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the idea of fit. Second, even if fit has positive consequences in the short term, does fitting HRM
practices with strategy or other contingent variables universally lead to positive results? That is,
are there negative implications of fit?
As previously discussed, numerous researchers have argued for fitting HRM to
contingent variables. However, the efficacy of fit has not received much empirical support
(Paauwe, 2004; Wright & Sherman, 1999). Huselid’s (1995) landmark study sought to test the fit
hypothesis using a variety of conceptualizations of fit, yet found little support. Similarly, Delery
and Doty (1996) only found limited support across a number of fit tests. The lack of empirical
support may largely be due to focusing only on a fit between generic HRM practices and
strategy, rather than the outcomes, or products (Wright, 1998) of the HRM practices (skills,
behaviors, etc.). Thus, it seems that it may be too early to draw any definite conclusions about
the validity of the fit hypothesis.
However, while fit between HRM practices and various contingency variables might
enhance the ability of HRM to contribute to firm performance, there is also the possibility that a
tight fit between HRM and strategy may inhibit the ability of the firm to remain flexible enough to
adapt to changing circumstances. Firms are increasingly required to adapt to environments that
are constantly changing, both within and outside the firm. A tight fit may appear to be desirable
but during times of transition and/or change a lack of fit might make adaptation and change
more efficient (Lengnick-Hall, Lengnick-Hall, 1988). Wright and Snell (1998) developed a
framework in which HRM contributes to fit and flexibility simultaneously without conflict between
the two, but this framework has yet to be tested and the question remains as to when and where
fit might be more or less appropriate.
The second question raised by contextual issues surrounding SHRM and the idea of fit
is related to the efficacy of fit. Regardless of whether or not fit can have a positive effect on
organizational outcomes, there is still some question as to whether or not true fit with key
contingencies is feasible. Large organizations operate in complex environments, often across
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multiple products, industries and geographies. This complexity leads to questions regarding the
ability of the firm to fit HRM practices to all of these diverse and complex circumstances (Boxall
& Purcell, 2003).
In addition, Boxall and Purcell, (2003) argue that there are competing ideals within a
business that require trade-offs in fit. They describe fit as “a process that involves some tension
among competing objectives in management and inevitably implies tensions among competing
interests” (2003, p. 188). A simple example of these tensions can be seen in attempting to fit a
strategy of commitment to employees with a hostile or extremely competitive operating
environment. A firm with a strategic commitment to the well-being of employees operating in an
economic downturn or time of increased competition may be forced to make choices between
commitment to employees and a need for restructuring, layoffs or other non-friendly actions
toward employees in order to stay solvent. In these situations, compromises will have to be
made on either the fit with the strategy or the fit with the environment or both, raising the
question again as to whether or not a true fit with contingencies is feasible.
These questions regarding the ability to achieve fit and the desirability of achieving fit do
not diminish the importance of understanding contextual issues in SHRM research.
Understanding the contextual issues surrounding HRM and its impact on performance remains
critical. In spite of the interest in the role of contextual issues and fit in SHRM, findings in
support of contingency relationships have been mixed (Wright & Sherman, 1999). Much of this
criticism could be due to ineffective methods used in the measurement of HRM or the
contingency and performance variables studied or that the correct contingencies have not yet
been studied (Becker & Gerhart, 1996, Rogers & Wright, 1998; Wright & Sherman, 1999). In
addition, Boxall and Purcell (2000) have argued that more complex and comprehensive models
of contingency relationships are needed in order to understand the impact of context on the
HRM to performance relationship. Regardless of the reasoning, it is clear that the impact of
context on this important relationship is not yet completely understood and more research is
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needed to understand the role of context, as well as questions surrounding models of fit in
SHRM research.
HRM Practices and Sustainable Competitive Advantage
Another issue that has been raised by the RBV and its application to SHRM research is the
sustainability of HRM as a competitive advantage. Whether one focuses on bundles of HR
practices as an HR system, the human capital pool or employee relationships and behaviors,
there remains the question as to whether HRM as a resource meets the inimitability and nonsubstitutability conditions that are required in the RBV for sustained competitive advantage
(Barney, 1991).
According to Barney (1991), there are three general reasons why firm resources would
be difficult to imitate: the resources are created and formed under unique historical conditions,
the resources are causally ambiguous, or the resources are socially complex.
Labeled as path dependency by Becker and Gerhart (1996), the unique historical
conditions under which HRM is formed in individual firms may make its understanding and
replication extremely difficult, if not impossible. HR systems are developed over time and the
complex history involved in their development makes them difficult to replicate. The
development and implementation of a single HR practice such as a variable pay system takes
place over time including time to solicit management input and buy-in, work out discrepancies,
and align the practice with current strategies as well as firm culture and needs. The end result
is a practice that reflects the philosophies and culture of the firm and its management, created
to solve the specific needs of the company. Compound that single HR practice with a whole
system of practices each with its own history and evolution specific to a particular firm, its
philosophies and current situation and you have an HR system that cannot be bought or easily
replicated without a significant investment both of time and financial resources.
Causal ambiguity implies that the exact manner in which human resource management
contributes to the competitive advantage of the firm is either unknown or sufficiently ambiguous
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so as to be difficult or impossible to imitate. According to Becker and Gerhart (1996), the ability
to replicate a successful HR system would require an understanding of how all of the elements
of this complex system interact and in turn impact the performance of an organization. Given
the previous discussion of the basic HRM to performance model and the manner in which it is
expected that HRM contributes to firm performance, it is difficult to imagine how the intricate
interplay among various HR practices, human capital and employee behaviors, employee
outcomes, operational outcomes and firm-level outcomes could be understood by a competitor
in a meaningful way.
Finally, Barney (1991) points out that competitors will find it difficult to replicate a
competitive advantage based on complex social phenomena. Given the nature of HRM and its
direct relation to employees, almost every aspect of the HR system, the human capital and
especially the employee behavior and relationships has a social component. The way in which
HR practices are communicated and implemented among different departments and parts of the
organization is influenced by the various social relationships involved; top management to
general managers, general managers to department heads or managers and those managers to
employees as well as interactions between departments and employees. The complexity of the
social relationships in the case of HRM makes it difficult for competitors to imitate it.
Finally, for a resource to constitute a source of sustainable competitive advantage it
must be non-substitutable. This implies that competitors should not be able to use a different
set of resources in order to achieve similar results (Barney, 1991). This concept has not yet
been tested, but could provide for interesting research in the area of contextual factors and
SHRM.
If, in fact, it is found that a particular set of HR practices is positively related to
performance in a given context, then, a follow-on question to that which would get at the
substitutability question might be whether or not there is another set of HR practices for which
the results are similar. This could lead to discussions about strategic configurations of HR
Page 17 of 26
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CAHRS WP06-04
practices rather than universal high-performance work systems that have dominated past
research (Delery & Doty, 1996). Regardless of whether there is one or many ways to achieve
similar results in different contextual situations, the testing of these possibilities would lead to an
increased understanding of the relationship between the RBV and SHRM research and the
sustainability of HRM as a strategic resource.
Measurement and Methodological Issues
In addition to key questions surrounding the RBV and SHRM research, there are also
several measurement and methodological issues which have hindered our ability to better
understand the relationship between strategy and HRM. Measurement issues relating to the
HRM, competitive advantage and key control variables have made the comparison of results
across studies and interpretation of findings difficult (Rogers & Wright, 1998; Dyer & Reeves,
1995). In addition, there are questions around the appropriate level of analysis within the firm at
which to test these relationships as well as issues related to the mixing of variables measured at
different levels of analysis (Rogers & Wright 1998, Becker & Gerhart, 1996). Finally, as was
pointed out, the majority of research to date has focused on the relationship between HR
systems and firm-level performance and, while the findings indicate a positive relationship, there
is insufficient evidence at this point to be able to infer that the relationship is causal (Wright et
al., 2005). A full discussion of these issues is beyond the scope of this chapter and a more
thorough discussion may be found in other chapters in this text (see particularly chapters 26 and
27), but it is important to note in discussing key questions in SHRM that they exist and need to
be addressed or at least considered in future research.
Future Directions
Research on SHRM management over the past decade has made significant progress in
developing our understanding of the role that HRM plays in firm performance. The field now
has a significant foundation upon which to build future research. In our opinion, future research
should focus on both answering key questions that remain in understanding the relationship
Page 18 of 26
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between HRM and performance and by expanding or broadening what is considered SHRM.
Such extension would encompass both other resources and other theories currently studied in
strategic management research.
Key Unanswered Questions
The previous portion of the chapter pointed out several key questions that have been
raised as a result of the application of the RBV to SHRM research that are not yet answered.
First, research that directly tests the concepts outlined in the RBV has not been done (Priem &
Butler, 2001). Thus future research should focus on testing the concepts of the RBV by testing
the full model through which HRM leads to competitive advantage or firm performance. Do HR
practices impact the human capital pool and the relationships and behaviors of the employees
and do those outcomes in turn impact both operational and firm-level performance? Answering
these questions by testing the full causal model would be a significant contribution to our
understanding of the strategic nature of HRM. In essence, this reflects the “black box process”
that Priem and Butler (2001) argued must be addressed by RBV theorists and researchers.
Second, future research should focus on understanding the contextual questions
surrounding the HRM to performance relationship. Mixed results in past contextual research is
not reason enough to abandon the question all together. It is highly likely that HRM matters
more or less in certain situations or under certain conditions. Efforts should be made to
continue to test established models of HRM in new and unique situations. In addition, more
thorough tests of moderating variables in the HRM to performance relationship should be
tested. Given the complexity involved in the measurement and testing of these relationships
and the mixed results of past research in this area it is likely that researchers will need to seek
out contexts with reduced complexity such as departments within large organizations or small
businesses where reduced complexity will provide more meaningful measures of potential
moderating variables and more meaningful tests of the moderating relationships can be
performed.
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Another step that needs to be taken in understanding the role of context in the HRM to
performance relationship is to move away from universal-type models of HRM such as highperformance work systems and high-involvement work systems and develop and test different
configurations of HR practices that might apply to specific situations. In doing this, researchers
will be able to better understand the specific bundles or HR practices that are applicable or fit
with different types of organizations or situations, thus making a significant contribution to our
understanding of the types of HRM that will matter in a given situation.
Expanding the Role of SHRM
Future research in SHRM should focus on conceptually expanding what is considered to
be the role of SHRM. Historically, SHRM has been viewed as the interface between HRM and
strategic management (Boxall, 1996) with the focus of much research being on understanding
how the HRM function (namely HRM practices) can be strategically aligned so as to contribute
directly to competitive advantage. This implies a concern with how HR practices can contribute
to strategy implementation without addressing the larger question of how HRM can contribute or
play a role in strategy formulation (Lengnick-Hall & Lengnick-Hall, 1988).
Wright et. al. (2001) argued that it is the human capital (the knowledge skills and abilities
of the human resources) as well as the relationships and motivation of the employees that leads
to competitive advantage. The purpose of HR practices is to develop or acquire this human
capital and influence the relationships and behaviors of the employees so that they can
contribute to the strategic goals of the firm. Future research should examine human capital and
the social interactions and motivations of the human element within a firm (Snell, Shadur, &
Wright, 2002), not only as independent variables but also as mediating and dependent
variables. A focus in this area will bring the field more in line with contemporary views in
strategic management. Research in this area will also help us to get beyond questions
regarding how HR practices can facilitate the strategic goals of a firm and begin to understand
how organizations can understand the resources found in their human element and use that
Page 20 of 26
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CAHRS WP06-04
understanding to influence or even drive their decisions about their strategic direction. For
instance, IBM’s strong HR processes/competencies led it into the business of offering
outsourced HR services. This was an internal resource that was extended into a new product
line, and illustrates how an understanding of such resources can influence strategic direction.
Along these same lines, another way to break away from this notion of HRM as a
facilitator of the strategic direction of the firm is by focusing on some of the resources currently
salient to strategic management researchers. In their review of the RBV and SHRM
relationship, Wright, Dunford and Snell, (2001) argue that the RBV created a link between HRM
and strategic management research and that as a result of this link the two fields were
converging. Because of this convergence, the potential impact of SHRM research on
mainstream strategy issues is tremendous. Increasingly, strategy researchers are focusing on
knowledge and knowledge-based resources (Argote, & Ingram, 2000; Grant, 1996;), human
capital (Hitt et al. 2001), social capital (Inkpen & Tsang, 2005; McFadyen, Ann, & Albert, 2004),
capabilities (Dutta, Narasimhan, & Rajiv, 2005), and dynamic capabilities (Teece, Pisano, &
Schuen, 1997), as critical resources that lead to organizational success. While HRM practices
strongly influence these resources, the SHRM literature seems almost devoid of empirical
attention to them. Only recently have researchers began to explore these issues (Kinnie, Swart,
& Purcell, 2005; Thompson & Heron, 2005). Additional research in these areas would provide
tremendous synergy between HRM and strategy.
In addition, alternative theories such as ‘learning organizations’ (Fiol & Lyles, 1985;
Fisher & White, 2000), real options theory (McGrath, 1997; Trigeorgis, 1996) and institutional
theory (Meyer & Rowan, 1977) can be combined with SHRM research to enhance our
understanding of the strategic nature of HRM. For instance, Bhattacharya and Wright (2005)
showed how real options theory can be applied to understanding flexibility in SHRM. In addition,
Paauwe and Boselie (Chapter 9) provide a detailed analysis of how institutional theory can
better inform SHRM research. The use of these in addressing questions in SHRM research will
Page 21 of 26
Strategic Management and HRM
CAHRS WP06-04
provide new lenses through which researchers are able to view the HRM to performance
relationship, potentially providing new insights and ideas that will further our understanding of
SHRM.
Conclusion
While the field of strategic HRM is relatively young, significant progress has been made
at a rapid pace. Researchers have provided great theoretical and empirical advancements in a
period of just over 25 years. Much of this progress is the result of the RBV and its emphasis on
the internal resources of the firm as a source of sustainable competitive advantage. The RBV
and its application to SHRM research created an important link between strategic management
and HRM research. Its application has been followed by a significant amount of research using
the RBV as a basis for assertions about the strategic nature of HRM.
However, the link between HRM and strategic management can be strengthened by
breaking away from the focus on HR practices. Other key resources currently being researched
in strategic management have the potential to be directly influenced by HRM, but their coverage
by SHRM researchers has been minimal, leaving a tremendous opportunity for future research
in this area. In addition to this, new theories relevant to strategic management have yet to be
combined with SHRM research, leaving potential for additional contributions to our
understanding of the intersection between strategic management and HRM.
Page 22 of 26
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PowerPoint Presentation to Accompany
Strategic Human Resources Management
in Health Services Organizations
Third Edition
Alice Sharp Johnson, BS, MBA
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, AL
Copyright
Copyright ©
© 2010
2010 Delmar,
Delmar, Cengage
Cengage Learning.
Learning. All
All Rights
Rights Reserved.
Reserved.
1
CHAPTER 1
Integrating Strategic Management
and Human Resources
S. Robert Hernandez, DrPH
Stephen J. O’Connor, PhD, FACHE
Copyright © 2010 Delmar, Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.
2
Health Care Industry




Labor intensive
Simultaneous production and consumption
Heterogeneity of service quality
Effective management of people
Copyright © 2010 Delmar, Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.
3
Strategic Management of
Human Resources
• To ensure qualified, motivated personnel
– Determine positions needed
– Recruitment and selection
– Training and development
– Adequate rewards
• Within context of overall organization
Copyright © 2010 Delmar, Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.
4
Health Care Workforce




7.6% of labor force
Largest industry in the U.S.
2006 to 2016, will increase by 21.7%
Recently developed occupations
– PAs, techs, practitioners, therapists, other
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5
Health Care Workforce
(continues)
Copyright © 2010 Delmar, Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.
6
Health Care Workforce
Table 1.1 (continued)
Copyright © 2010 Delmar, Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.
7
Health Care Workforce
• Environmental shifts
– Technology, reimbursement, body of knowledge
• Workforce demand
– Consider during HR planning
– Adequate time for recruitment/training
– Attention to external trends
Copyright © 2010 Delmar, Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.
8
Strategic Human Resource
Management
• Organizational competitive strategies
– Responding to changing environment
– Low-cost, customer service, specialization
• Strategic HR Management
– Policies and practices
– Supply personnel for strategic needs
Copyright © 2010 Delmar, Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.
9
Strategic Human Resource
Management
Copyright © 2010 Delmar, Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.
10
Strategic Human Resource
Management Steps





HR in strategy formulation
HR to understand basic business functions
Determine strategy’s HR requirements
Compare present and future inventory
Develop plans and tactics
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11
Organizational Structure
• Formal allocation of work roles
• Mechanisms to control and integrate work
activity
• Standards of performance
• Determined by overall strategy
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12
Corporate Culture






Informal customs and rules
Relationship between culture and strategy
Strong cultures—transmit values, beliefs
Should complement HR management
Assess corporate culture
Increasing workforce diversity
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13
Leadership
• Determines overall mission and direction
• Guide through change
• HR activities
– Leadership development
– Succession planning
– Mentoring
• Aligned with overall strategy
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14
Human Resources Processes
• Cycle of related activities
– Job analysis, recruitment, retention, selection and
onboarding, training and development, performance
appraisal, compensation, and labor relations
• Importance varies depending on strategy
• Job analysis—center of other functions
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15
Human Resources Processes
• Recruitment and retention
– In times of both growth and decline
– Helps organization remain competitive
– Inside or outside
• Selection and onboarding
– Difficult for unique positions
– Based on job analysis
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16
Human Resources Processes
• Training and development
– Sustains levels of performance
– Technological and environmental changes
• Performance appraisal
– Evaluation of work behavior
– Promotion, additional training, termination
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17
Human Resources Processes
• Compensation management
– Motivating employees
– Reinforces structural systems
– Linked to mission, strategy
– Difficult because of employee heterogeneity
– Monetary and nonmonetary compensation
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18
Human Resources Processes
• Labor relations
– Nonunion status—greater flexibility
– Consider strategy in bargaining with unions
– Positive relationship between management and
employees prevents unions
– Flexibility key in turbulent environment
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19
Future HR Challenges




Profitability vs. mission
Efficiency of operations vs. mission
Selection of priorities
“Social maintenance” is expensive
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20
Summary





Reliance on personnel
Changing environment
Different organizational strategies
Different organizational designs
HR processes need to match overall strategy
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21
CHAPTER 2
The Legal and Financial Environment
Winsor Schmidt, JD, LLM
Richard L. Clarke, DHA, FHFMA
Copyright © 2010 Delmar, Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.
1
Introduction





Law—“rules of the game”
Finance—“keeping score”
Fundamental elements of HR environment
By what authority do you act?
Purpose: when to contact an attorney
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2
Legal Environment
• Employment-at-will
– Termination without cause
– Employer and employee
– Varies by state
– Anti-discrimination statutes
– Unless there is an implied contract
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3
Legal Environment
• Exceptions to employment-at-will
1. Implied contract
2. Public policy exception
3. Fair dealing and good faith
• Implied contract
– Personnel manual/employee handbook
– With disclaimer—not a contract
– Medical staff bylaws—not a contract
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4
Legal Environment
• Public policy exception
– Activity protected by specific state law
• Reporting abuse in a nursing home
• Not trying to improve patient care or quality
– Minority endorses a broader scope
– “Whistleblower statute”
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5
Legal Environment
• Fair dealing and good faith
– Implied duty
– Crenshaw v. Bozeman Deaconess Hospital
– Failing to investigate charges before termination
– Not extended to physicians
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6
Legal Environment
• Fair Labor Standards Act (1938)
– Great Depression
– Minimum wages
– Time-and-a-half guaranteed overtime
– Prohibition of employing minors
– Nonprofit and for-profit hospital employees
– Salaried employees exempt
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7
Legal Environment
• National Labor Relations Act of 1935
– Defines unfair labor practices
– National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
– Hearings for complaints of unfair labor practices
– Taft-Hartley amendments of 1947
– Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act
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8
Legal Environment
• NLRA provisions unique to health care
– Sufficient advanced notice of strike
– Recognizes eight possible bargaining units
– Limit solicitation and distribution of union materials
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9
Legal Environment
• Equal Opportunity in Employment
– Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
– Age Discrimination in Employment Act
– Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
– Rehabilitation Act of 1973
– Equal Pay Act of 1963
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10
Legal Environment
• Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
– Employment treatment that is disparate
– Based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin,
or pregnancy
• Must file with EEOC
• Disparate treatment, disparate impact, and
carryover from past discrimination
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11
Legal Environment
• Sexual harassment
– “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual
favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a
sexual nature when this conduct: explicitly or
implicitly affects an individual’s employment;
unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work
performance; or creates an intimidating, hostile, or
offensive work environment”
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12
Legal Environment
• Sexual harassment
– Quid pro quo
• Work conditions are altered for refusal to submit
– Hostile environment
• Unreasonable work interference
• Proof of injury not necessary
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13
Legal Environment
• Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
– Individuals 40 years of age or older
• Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA)
– Discrimination in pay for women and men
– Equal pay for equal work.
• Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
– Standards for occupational health and safety
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14
Legal Environment
• Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
– Disability
• “a physical or mental impairment that substantially
limits one or more of the major life activities of such
individual, a record of such impairment, or being
regarded as having such an impairment”
– Rehabilitation Act of 1973
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15
Legal Environment
• Federal Wage Garnishment Law
• Employee Retirement Income Security Act of
1974 (ERISA)
• Health Insurance Portability and Accountability
Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
• Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
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16
Financial Environment
• Substantial cost of labor
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17
Financial Environment

Four main areas of concern
1. Disability revenue-cycle improvements
2. Consumer-focused practices
3. Medicare payment trends
4. Business issues
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18
Financial Environment

Key finance drivers
– Payment rates
– Competition and volume shifts
– National and state economies
– Capital spending
– Management and governance
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19
Financial Environment
• Government-funded programs
– Payments have not kept up with costs
– Cost shifting




Price transparency
Increased deductibles and copays
Pay-for-performance
Alternative revenue strategies
– Ancillary services
– Ambulatory centers
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20
Financial Environment
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21
Financial Environment
• State and local economies
– Cuts when revenues get tight
– States have wide variability of revenues
• Impact on providers
– Payment trends
– State programs
– Employer-provided health insurance
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22
Financial Environment
• Capital spending
– Many facilities built in the 1950s
– Advances in technology, medical procedures
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23
Financial Environment
• Management—development and execution of
strategic direction
• Governance—policies and management
oversight
• Financial reporting and internal controls
– Sarbanes-Oxley Act
– Publicly owned companies
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24
CHAPTER 3
Formulating Organizational Strategy
S. Robert Hernandez, DrPH
Elena Platonova, PhD
Copyright © 2010 Delmar, Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved.
1
Planning Methods
• Evolved over the years
• Four methods
1. Financial planning (1950s)
2. Long-range planning (1960s)
3. Strategic planning (1970s)
4. Strategic management (1980s)
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2
Planning Methods
• Financial planning
– Budgets for a given time period
• Long-range planning
– Organizational goals, objectives, programs, and
budgets
– Forecasting from historical environmental trends
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3
Planning Methods
• Strategic planning
– Mission, objectives, strategy, policies, programs,
goals, and major resource allocations
– Matches internal resources and skills to
environmental opportunities and risks
• Strategic management
– Integrates administrative systems, organizational
structure, and organizational culture
– Blended with other management processes
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4
Budgeting






Financial plans in monetary terms
Helps management implement strategies
Essential information for decision making
Raises the priority of planning
Structure for the planning activity
Keeps employees informed
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5
Budgeting
• Benchmark for the organization
• Motivator for employees
• Typical process
– Board: Establishes goals and approves
– Management: Operational objectives, priorities, final
administrative review
– Line management: Specify resources
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6
Budget Preparation
• Planning of utmost importance
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7
Budget Preparation
• Zero-based method
– Start from scratch
– Historical data only a reference point
– Each department defends budget requests
– Time consuming
• Need more than just budgeting in planning
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8
Long-Range Planning





Integrated approach
Marketing, production, finance, HR
Implementation plans
Short and long-range priorities
Plant, people, and financial requirements
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9
Long-Range Planning
• Major improvement over budgeting
• Advantage
– Increases managerial awareness/responsibility
• Weaknesses
– Predictions from historical patterns
– Rapidly changing environment
– Overly optimistic objectives
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10
Strategic Planning
• Increasing uncertainty in environment
• Articulation, elaboration, and formalization of
existing strategies
• Evolved into strategic thinking
• Strategic planning is a process
• Takes place after strategic thinking
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11
Strategic Thinking





Crucial to staying competitive
Holistic approach
Creativity
Vision for the organization
Organizations must facilitate
– Structures, processes, systems
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12
Strategic Planning
• Focus on the environment
– Market segmentation, portfolio analysis
• Four steps
1. Analysis of Anticipated Results
2. Competitive Analysis
3. Portfolio Analysis
4. Diversification Analysis
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13
Strategic Management






Focus on concepts that affect performance
Strategic planning and implementation
Measure is competitive advantage
Flexibility and prompt responses
Basis for learning and adaptation
Not a permanent plan
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14
Organizational Strategy
• What is our business?
• What should it be?
• Business areas in which the organization will
compete
• Corporate level strategy
• Build, hold, harvest, divest
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15
Organizational Strategy
• Build
– Invest to increase market share
• Hold
– Maintain market share
• Harvest
– Increase short-term cash flows
• Divest
– Abandon the market
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16
Competitive Advantage
• Cost leadership
• Differentiation
• Focus
– Cost focus
– Differentiation focus
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17
Formulating Strategy
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18
Formulating Strategy
• Identifying strategic business units
• Define market
– Geographic area
– Consumers that desire the product/service
• Determine distinct competence
– Advantage of the firm over competitors
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19
Strategy Formulation
• External analysis
– Patient groups or consumers
– Competitors
– Industry conditions
– General environmental factors
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20
Strategy Formulation
• Environmental factors
– Technology
– Government
– Economics
– Culture
– Demographics
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21
Strategy Formulation
• Internal environment
– Management and governance
– Functional programs and services
– Human resources
– Medical staff
– Financial resources and results
– Physical facilities
– Basic values and culture of the organization
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22
Portfolio Assessment
Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Business Grid
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23
Portfolio Assessment
Product Life-Cycle Matrix
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24
Strategy and HR
• Direct, supportive relationship
• Achieve organizational business goals
– Recruitment and selection
– Development
– Appraisal
– Compensation
• Aligned with organizational strategy
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25
Strategy and HR
• HR strategies in stages of life cycle
– Introduction
– Growth
– Maturity
– Decline
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26

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