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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM


Weiwei Hua


A dissertation presented in part consideration for the degree of MSc in

International Business

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM


This dissertation would not have been completed without the guidance, assistance and

encouragements from my supervisor, friends and relatives. I would like to take this

opportunity to thank a number of individuals who have contributed to the completion of

this dissertation.

First of all, I would like to thank Professor Nick Bacon for his help and support

throughout the process of this dissertation, for his invaluable advices on my work, and for

taking his time to give me academic guidance.

Secondly, I would also like to thank my parents for their never-ending support, loving

care, encouragement and faith in me.

Finally, I would like to extend my thanks to my friends who have given me support and

courage to achieve so much more than I could ever have done alone, making this year

more meaningful than I could possibly imagine.

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM


Human resource management (HRM) involves the administration of employees to

achieve managers’ objectives. It is different from traditional resource management that

originated in the USA and have adopted in the UK. However, according to Frege’s (2005)

study, the academic interests outside the UK and US, and the increase of global academic

cooperation (e.g. joint publications by authors from different national institutions,

international conferences), there are some changes of HRM issues in the 21st century

compared with that in the early 1990s. Hence, the objective of this dissertation is to

explore the main changes in the field of HRM focusing on the research patterns and

content of topics. Also, it aims to examine the recent tendency of HRM research towards


First of all, it reviews the literatures, outlining the background, key areas and the relevant

changes of HRM, reviewing Frege’s (2005) previous work and the issue of international

human resource management (IHRM). By employing the quantitative research method,

the study collects information and data from the articles published in one of the

mainstream HRM journals—the International Journal of Human Resource Management

between 1990-1992 and 2006. Based on the analysis and discussion of the results, the

dissertation traces the changes in the field of HRM, finding main changes both in research

patterns (the nature and the content of articles) and in the key areas of HRM. Moreover, it

examines the future tendency of HRM development towards internationalization.

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Chapter One Introduction..............................................................................................8

1.1 Background of the research ........................................................................................9

1.2 Objectives of research .............................................................................................. 11
1.3 Structure of research................................................................................................. 11

Chapter Two Literature Review ..................................................................................14

2.1 Background of HRM ................................................................................................15

2.1.1 The origins of HRM............................................................................................15
2.1.2 Key models and definitions of HRM ..................................................................18
2.1.3 Debate the changes in the field of HRM ............................................................23
2.2 Key areas of HRM....................................................................................................28
2.2.1 Recruitment and selection..................................................................................28
2.2.2 Training and development..................................................................................31
2.2.3 Reward ...............................................................................................................33
2.2.4 Employee Relations............................................................................................36
2.3 International Human Resource Management ...........................................................42
2.4 Review of the previous HRM work..........................................................................45

Chapter Three Methodology........................................................................................49

3.1 Research Questions ..................................................................................................50

3.2 Selection of research method ...................................................................................50
3.3 Research Process ......................................................................................................53
3.4 Research Limitations ................................................................................................57

Chapter Four Results....................................................................................................58

Chapter Five Discussion and analysis .........................................................................70

5.1 Research patterns of the articles ...............................................................................72

5.1.1 Nature of articles ...............................................................................................72
5.1.2 Content of articles..............................................................................................76

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

5.2 Content of topics ......................................................................................................80

5.2.1 Employee Relations............................................................................................80
5.2.2 Recruitment ........................................................................................................84
5.2.3 Training..............................................................................................................88
5.2.4 Reward ...............................................................................................................91
5.2.5 Others.................................................................................................................94
5.2.6 HRM...................................................................................................................96

Chapter Six Conclusions ..............................................................................................99

6.1 Conclusion..............................................................................................................100
6.2 Limitations..............................................................................................................105
6.3 Recommendations ..................................................................................................105

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

List of Figures

Figure 1: The Human Resource Management Cycle .........................................................15

Figure 2: The Harvard Model of HRM..............................................................................17

Figure 3: Storey’s Model of Mapping the Various Meanings of HRM .............................19

Figure 4: Guest’s Normative HRM Model ........................................................................20

Figure 5: HRM Model .......................................................................................................22

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

List of Tables

Table1: Year/Nationality of institution of the authors .......................................................59

Table 2: Year/Nature of Article .........................................................................................61

Table 3: Year/ Research method of empirical papers ........................................................62

Table 4: Year/Single Country/ Comparative Countries.....................................................63

Table 5: Year/ Single Country ...........................................................................................64

Table 6: Year/Comparative countries ................................................................................66

Table 7: Year/manager or non-manager ............................................................................67

Table 8: Years/ Topic.........................................................................................................68

Table 9: The research patterns of the International Journal of Human Resource


Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Chapter One Introduction

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

1.1 Background of the research

Human resource management (HRM) was originated in the United States and adapt in the

United Kingdom in recent years. It is defined as “a strategic and coherent approach to the

management of an organization’s most valued assets—the people working there who

individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of its objectives.” (Armstrong,

2006: 3) A couple of decades ago, it was scarcely to find the “HRM” term outside the

USA. For example, on the basis of Storey’s (2001) information from the

website in 2000, there were seldom books mentioning the term of HRM, only 448

publications concerning the HRM term and 394 books with regard to HRM titles. Coming

into the 21st century, the subject of HRM started to flourish, with numerous books,

research publications, encyclopaedic dictionaries about HRM (Storey, 2001).

With the rapid development of globalization, global economic growth, the intensification

of international competition and the expansion of international business, HRM have

started to play a key role in shaping the competitive advantage of an organization

(Wernerfelt, 1984; Barney, 1991). Indeed, the effective management of human capital

through human resource strategy exerts an important impact on the success of

organizations in the global environment. Hence, it is of vital importance to develop HRM

in order to meet all kinds of social requirements through HRM practices which comprise

human resource planning, recruitment and selection, appraisal and performance

management, reward management, training and development, employee relations,

Union-management relations (Bratton and Gold, 2003).

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Since HRM has developed in the 21st century, it is important for us to find the changes in

the fields of it compared with that in the 1990s. On the one hand, the ongoing

globalization exerts a significant influence on the changes of HRM. For example, an

increasing number of expatriates are sent to work abroad, which is one of the challenges

for both the international HRM and multinational corporations (MNCs). Thus, it is crucial

for companies to make great efforts to modify HRM practices, policies and strategies to

adapt to the international environment. On the other hand, it is essential to note that the

changes of human resource management are influenced by the internationalization of

academic research activities including the international conferences, joint publications by

various authors of different nationalities, cross-citations and joint international funding,

etc (Frege, 2005).

According to Frege’s (2005) previous work investigated the changes of industrial

relations through several varieties, the intensifying global academic activities, it may exist

certain changes in the field of HRM. So far, there are also a limited number of studies

referring to that. Hence, the aim of this research is to systematically explore the main

changes in the field of HRM, to pose the question whether HRM is becoming

international via analysing the mainstream HRM journal—the International Journal of

Human Resource Management edited by Michael Poole at Cardiff. The researcher will

examine in what ways HRM has changed through quantitative research method, such as

research topics, nationality of institution of authors, nature of articles. Moreover, the

changes in the focal areas of HRM practices—reward, training and development,

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

employee relations, recruitment and selection will also be investigated. The results of this

paper are valuable and meaningful not only for the managerial development of

multinational companies, but also for the academic research of international scholars.

1.2 Objectives of research

The research aims to explore the changes in the field of HRM from the articles of the

International Journal of Human Resource Management in 1990-1992 and in 2006. The

aim of this study can be further decomposed into the following major research objectives.

(1) To examine the changing field of HRM with a particular focus on the research patterns

and the content of topics.

(2) To investigate how and why key areas of HRM research have been changed.

(3) To explore the tendency of HRM research in terms of its development toward


1.3 Structure of research

This paper is divided into six chapters. Chapter One is Introduction. It introduces the

background, objectives and purpose of the study. Also, it concludes with the presentation

of the layout of the dissertation.

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Chapter Two reviews a broad range of theoretical literature in relation to human resource

management (HRM), mainly consisting of the origins and key models of HRM, major

areas of HRM, international human resource management (IHRM), and previous work of

industrial relations.

In Chapter Three, the research method (quantitative research method) and process will be

specified. Moreover, the empirical research is done through sample selection—articles in

the International Journal of Human Resource Management in the early 1990s and in 2006,

comparing eight variables that are summarized as the form of eight tables in Chapter


In the following part, the research result will be addressed and described by the eight

tables in Chapter Four—‘nationality of institution of the author’, ‘nature of article’,

‘research method of empirical papers’, ‘single/ comparative countries’, ‘single country’,

‘comparative country’, ‘manager or non-manager’, and ‘topics’.

Chapter Five contains systematic discussion and analysis of the research findings in the

central changing fields of HRM focusing on the eight tables of the results, which is also

on the basis of reviewing the pertinent literatures of HRM and engaging in both the

quantitative and qualitative work.

Finally, Chapter Six involves the conclusion and implementation of the whole research,

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

examining the findings with academic literatures. Moreover, it ends with answering

underlying research questions and achieving the objectives for this paper. Based on the

above summary, it also presents some limitations and provides relevant recommendations

for the future studies.

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Chapter Two Literature Review

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2.1 Background of HRM

2.1.1 The origins of HRM

Human resource management (HRM) originated in the USA. In general, there are two

schools of thought of HRM in the USA—the matching model (Fombrun et al., 1984) and

the Harvard framework (Beer et al., 1985). The matching models of HRM can be divided

into four elements that are closely related to employees’ performance, forming the HRM

cycle and presenting the interrelationship of internal HR activities and business strategies

as follows (Fombrun et al, 1984).

Human resource development

Selection Performance Appraisal


Figure 1: The Human Resource Management Cycle (Bratton and Gold, 2003: 19)

In terms of selection, selecting candidates through both subjective and standardized

criteria relied on the objectives and structure of organizations (Marchington and

Wilkinson, 2005). With regard to rewards, various means are expected to facilitate

employees to achieve high levels of performance, such as adopting performance-related

pay, bonuses (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). However, appraisal is based on

people’s performance—the concept of “competencies”, which aims to motivate

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

employees by means of equitable distribution of rewards and development (Storey, 1989).

The approach to development, such as training, management education (Constable and

McCormick, 1987; Handy, 1987) can not only improve employees’ performance for the

time being but also may stimulate future contribution to the firm (Storey, 1989).

By contrast, the Harvard framework of HRM covers six basic factors as the figure shows

(Beer et al, 1985). Firstly, the situational factors are related to the environment in which

the organizations are operating (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). The second

component is the stakeholder interests, focusing on the activities interests of the business

owners, the employees and the union (Bratton and Gold, 2003). Moreover, HRM policy

choices pay more attention to management’s decisions and actions (Marchington and

Wilkinson, 2005). In addition, HR outcomes (the fourth factor) consist of “4Cs” concern

high individual performance for seeking the effectiveness of outputs and high employee

commitment for achieving organizational objective (Bratton and Gold, 2003). The fifth

one is declared from the perspective of employers, long-term consequences concerns

individual well-being, organizational effectiveness and societal goals (employment and

growth). A feedback loop is regarded as the final element in the framework, indicating the

complicated and intimate relationship among the above-mentioned parts (Marchington

and Wilkinson, 2005)

As HRM emerged in the UK in the mid-1980s (around 1985/86), “hard” and “soft”

models were addressed consequently (Storey, 1989; Legge, 1995).

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Employee groups
Community Human resource
Union Management policy Human resource
choices outcomes
Individual well-being
Employee influence Commitment
Human resource flow Competence
Reward systems Congruence
Societal well-being
Work systems Cost-effectiveness
Situational factors
Workplace characteristics
Business strategy and
Management philosophy
Labour market
Task technology
Law and societal values

Figure 2: The Harvard Model of HRM (Bratton and Gold, 2003: 2)

According to the “hard” model, HRM is regarded as the management of other resources

(e.g. land and capital) in an economic and calculative way (Storey, 1989; Tyson and Fell,

1986). The “hard” model stresses on the “resource” of HRM. The concept of “resource” is

similar to that of functional model of HRM stated by Torrington and Hall (1987). It

emphasizes various aspects of business and HR strategies and reflects a “utilitarian

instrumentalism” (Legge, 1995: 66). In addition, it also focuses on the high consistence of

human resource systems, policies and activities with business strategies (Legge, 1995).

The “hard” model of HRM aims at not only driving the objectives of organizations, but

also achieving the goals by integrating personnel policies, systems and practices (Hendry

and Pettigrew, 1986; Legge, 1995).

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

However, the “soft” model emphasizes on the management and delivery of “resourceful

human” (Morris and Burgoyne, 1973). According to the “soft” model, employees are

regarded as valued assets, a source of competitive advantage with their commitment,

flexibility and quality, which can be seen from Guest’s (1987: 516) normative HRM

model (Legge, 1995). In order to achieve organizational objectives, it requires employees

to be capable and adaptable, loyal and worthy of trust (Beer et al, 1985). In addition, it

also requires managers to generate commitment and loyalty through communication,

training and development, motivation and involvement (Storey, 1987; Storey, 2001).

2.1.2 Key models and definitions of HRM

The following figure presents HRM in two dimensions. One is the “hard” and “soft”

dimension, depending on different emphasis on human resource. “Hard” version stresses

on full utilization of labor resources and emphasizes the implications of strategy and

quantification. On the contrary, “soft” version focuses on development of individual

talents and commitment, highlighting resourceful humans (Guest, 1989). The second

dimension is “strong” and “weak” or “tight” and “loose” dimension, depending on

general or precise definition of human resource. The concept of “weak” term is nothing

new without any substantive change in approaches, just the re-title of the personnel

management department, providing a new and fashionable image of personnel department

like “old wine in new bottle” claimed by Guest (1989: 48). However, the “strong” term is

regarded as approaches to integrate human resource management with organization

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

strategies, emphasizing on strategic human resource management. The approaches

underline and concern how to use HRM policies and fit them into business strategies as

well as how to integrate the components of HRM (e.g. training and development, reward

systems and recruitment) with the overall organizational strategy.

Figure 3: Storey’s Model of Mapping the Various Meanings of HRM (Legge, 1995: 68)

Furthermore, in order to investigate how do HRM policies fit into or integrate with

business strategy, what are the effective approaches to manage labor, it is necessary to put

forward the theory of HRM by using of the normative HRM framework raised by Guest’s

(1987) (Legge, 1995). The model shows the essence of human resource management in

four aspects. Firstly, it shows the human resource outcomes and the goals of HRM policy,

which is the central issue of this model. Secondly, a set of HRM policies and business

strategy are introduced, which present detailed information regarding of the key areas of

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

HRM. Also, the model displays some organizational outcomes. Finally, three components

that imply the success of the HRM version appears in this model, which can be

summarized as key leadership, strong culture and conscious strategy to pursue and

reinforce success of HRM (Guest, 1989).

A theory of HRM

HRM policies Human resource outcomes Organizational outcomes

Organisation/ High
job design Job performance

Management of change Strategy integration High

Recruitment Commitment Innovation

Appraisal, training, Flexibility/ High

development adaptability Cost-effectiveness

Reward systems

Communication Quality Low


Figure 4: Guest’s Normative HRM Model (Legge, 1995: 93)

From the above table, it is clear to see that there is direct relationship between a set of

HRM practices and organizational performance (Baker, 1999; Buyen and De Vos, 2001;

Purcell, 1999). There are four kinds of human resource outcome—strategic integration,

commitment, flexibility and quality, which are regarded as the goals of HRM policies. In
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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

order to fully achieve strategic integration, HRM policies shall be adjusted and linked

across policy areas and hierarchies. In practice, line managers play an essential role in

accepting and applying HRM policy (Guest, 1989). In order to encourage employees’

behavioural commitment and to achieve high job performance, HRM policy shall include

high-quality recruitment and selection, which potentially facilitate to accomplish

organizational goals. With regard to the goal of flexibility and adaptability with

organizational structure and cost-effectiveness achievement, it is required to apply

flexible HRM policies like appraisal, training and reward systems. Furthermore, in order

to meet the high-quality of management employees, HRM policies shall focus on

goal-directed communication rather than the process of communication (Guest, 1989;

Legge, 1995)

Fordist-IR model of labor management summarizes the key components of alternative

method to certain extent, which can be seen as shown in Figure 5. From the figure, it is

clear to see the first element is about beliefs and assumptions, which includes selection

and training process and concerns more about the capability and commitment of

employees. In addition, human resource is regarded as a kind of valued asset to achieve

organizational competitive advantage through employee commitment rather than

regulations. “Strategic qualities” is the second component, paying much attention to

organizational strategies and senior managers that wield an important influence on

corporate success (Storey, 2001).

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

1. Beliefs and assumptions

● That is the human resource which gives competitive edge.
● That the aim should be not mere compliance with rules, but employee commitment
● That therefore employees should be very carefully selected and development.

2. Strategic qualities
● Because of the above factors, HR decisions are of strategic importance.
● Top management involvement is necessary.
● HR policies should be integrated into the business strategy- stemming from it and
even contributing to it.

3. Critical role of managers

● Because HR practice is critical to the core activities of the business, it is too
important to be left to personnel specialists alone.
● Line managers need to be closely involved both as delivers and drivers of the HR
● Much greater attention is paid to the management of managers themselves.

4. Key levers
● Managing culture is more important than managing procedures and systems.
● Integrated action on selection, communication, training, reward and development.
● Restructuring and job redesign to allow devolved responsibility and empowerment.

Figure 5: HRM Model (Storey, 2001: 7)

Indeed, the involvement of employee relations managers exerts impacts on the human

resource matters and business plans, which can be seen from the Workplace Employee

Relations Survey (Cully et al., 1999). The third part is the role of managers, focusing on

line managers who play an essential role in delivering and driving human resource

policies such as target setting and management of performance-related pay. That is to say,

it is of vital importance to manage managers themselves. Fourthly, key levers are

introduced as one of the characteristics of HRM. It is more important and effective to

manage the intangible corporate culture than regulations and employee management

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

process. Indeed, organization culture exerts great impact on value and beliefs (consensus),

managerial control (flexibility) and commitment (Storey, 2001).

According to the three key models of HRM mentioned above, human resource

management (HRM) is defined as a strategic method to manage the employment

relationship and strategic resource via integrated HR policies and practice that are

coherent with organizational strategy. It stresses on developing employees’ capacities to

achieve competitive advantage (Bratton and Gold, 2003).

2.1.3 Debate the changes in the field of HRM

1. Controversies about meaning

There are certain controversies about the meaning of HRM, which are ambiguous, various

and even contradictious (Keenoy, 1990). On the one hand, twenty years ago, Guest (1987)

and Storey (1987) argued that HRM is a kind of general approach or a particular form of

method to manage and control employment relationship. Kennoy (1999: 17) stated that

HRM methods can be seen as various collective approaches to employment management.

However, postmodernist argues that the concept of approaches is closely related to the

generic term of organizational management (Storey, 2001). However, in the 21st century,

HRM is regarded as one managerial method of different alternative ways for the

employment management (Storey and Sisson, 1993; Storey, 2001; Sisson and Storey,

2000). Storey (1995) concluded that HRM is a distinguishing method consisting of

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

various cultural, strategic and technical ways to control the employment relationship, to

achieve higher level loyal and competent workforce, which is helpful to obtain

organizational competitive advantage. In addition, in 2001, Storey argues that there are

probably certain gaps and limitations to put all approaches into practice, for instance, the

issue of loyal and committed workforce, management movements (Storey, 2001).

On the other hand, recently, some debates on the changing approaches to manage

employment relationship by managers, which are in consistent with the market

imperatives to achieve the optimum use of human resources (Bratton and Gold, 2003). In

order to fully develop employees’ potential, stimulate their motivation and achieve

substantial competitive advantage, it is both necessary and important to change the human

resource policies and practices so as to shape organization culture and restructure

organization design rather than apply the traditional human resource management

methods (Bratton and Gold, 2003). Moreover, it is argued that the change of hierarchical

structure, expanding the job tasks like employee self-management, shape of more

intangible issues in workplace (beliefs, values) are of vital importance to create high

commitment management. In other words, the goal of human resource management

practices like recruit, train and develop, reward employees is to create “high-performing

work systems” (Bratton and Gold, 2003).

2. Controversies about practice

Firstly, there are certain arguments about HR practice and strategic involvement, which

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

can be found from two perspectives. Torrington (1999) claimed that there is a wide range

of personnel involvements in incorporation of business strategy. Based on his practical

data, Torrington (1999) stated that strategic involvement includes recruitment and

selection, training, rewards, management development, planning and so on. However,

other human resource specialists pointed out that strategic involvement was regarded as

line managers’ involvement rather than strategic development alone (Storey, 2001).

Secondly, the changes of HRM and personnel management are controversial. Guest (1987)

stated that a lot of companies changing the title of “personnel department” to “human

resource department” with little changes in their roles. In the US, some people use

“human resource management” as a generic term of “personnel management” (Legge,

1995). However, according to the interviews of Gennard and Kelly (1994), there are some

practical differences and changes between HRM and personnel management (Legge,

1995). The control systems of HRM are “self-control” rather than “external controls” of

personnel management, which can be seen from the psychological contract between HRM

and personnel management (Legge, 1995). The psychological contract of HRM is

“commitment” instead of “compliance”. The evaluation criteria of HRM are “maximum

utilization”, focusing on human asset rather than “cost minimization” that personnel

management emphasizes (Guest, 1987: 507). As Legge (1995: 62) claimed that

“personnel management has increasingly given way to human resource management”.

Indeed, it gives way to strategic human resource management.

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Also, there are some changes in the nature of HRM practice. Twenty years ago, HRM was

seen as a kind of “unitarist” with little concession for the multiple interests group and

various expressions of interests (Foulkes, 1980). However, in the 1990s, the findings of

Storey (1992), Sisson (1993) and WIRS survey showed that HRM was regarded as a

unionized issue, seeking for “dualist” measures. For example, companies not only

maintain the approaches of trade union relations and traditions but also launch some new

human resource initiatives. However, in recent years, it is argued that only taking into

consideration of stakeholders’ interests and requirements can company achieve long-term

competitive advantage (Storey, 2001). It is also argued that it is more essential and

effective to spend time, money and efforts in developing people’s capacity through

communication, identification of employees’ behaviors and competencies, building up

mutual trust and so on (Storey, 2001).

Moreover, there are some debates on the flexible employment policy of HRM. In the

1990s, it was claimed that flexible employment policy was becoming important (Hakim,

1990; Casey, 1991; Penn, 1992) and was increasingly developing (Procter and Ackroyd,

2001; Daniel, 1987; Cross, 1988) in response to the increasing number of part-time

workers. According to the fourth Workplace Employee Relations Survey (WERS4)

conducted in 1998, 25 percent of the UK employees were part-time workers (Cully et al,

1999: 32). The growing temporary workers may be explained from the perspectives of

economy development (Emmott and Hutchinson, 1998) and increasing global competition

under which employers need to reduce employment costs and easily adjust the number of

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workers to the changes of business activities (Armstrong, 2006). However, it is found by

the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (NACAB) that flexible employment

policy often results in “worker insecurity”, taking abusive actions by employers, such as

inaction of employers’ responsibilities for the employment relationship (Procter and

Ackroyd, 2001). Meanwhile, employees are becoming less willing to be committed to

employers, focusing on employability rather than the future career development

(Armstrong, 2006). Hence, “high organizational commitment, high trust and high level of

intrinsic motivation” may be taken into considerations for organizations to deal with the

problem of “soft” HRM policies (Legge, 1995: 139).

Furthermore, controversies on using internal labor market policy to fill vacancies in

organizations have arisen. Someone regards internal labor market as a kind of career

development and HR strategy which allow employees to make full play of their

capabilities (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). In addition, from the perspective of

organizational cost, using internal labor market policy can cut cost not only in the process

of recruitment and selection but also in terms of training provision as internal employees

have already familiar with the procedure or tacit knowledge of the organizations (Kersley

et al, 2006). Nevertheless, it is argued that internal labor market is relatively unfair and

inflexible, which wields a negative influence on organizational development because

firms are not able to obtain valuable experience and skills from the external market

(Kersley et al, 2006).

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

In addition, with the growing interest in employee involvement (EI), there are heat

debates on EI from the perspective of a managerialist. EI plays an essential role in

transforming the employment relations and changing employees’ working attitude,

behavior and commitment (Bratton and Gold, 2003). Morrison and Robinson (1997: 237)

claimed that one of the forms of EI—communication exerts significant impact on shaping

organizational culture, minimizing the “false consensus effect” and improving leadership

process. However, in fact, to a large extent, EI can not be fully put into practice by line

managers who are not committed to deliver it and by employers who are lack of time and

resources to train managers. Moreover, the employees’ involvement in EI activities is

tended to be passive, which seems that they just listen to information rather being that

important to them (Storey, 2001). It is also criticized that EI focuses on individuals

instead of collective units of employees, which deliberately threatens the status of trade

union (Wells, 1993).

2.2 Key areas of HRM

2.2.1 Recruitment and selection

Recruitment and selection are regarded as the key elements of Human Resource

Management (HRM) (Storey, 1992). It is important for an organization to select, use and

inspire employees at proper time and in right place to achieve and maintain the market

competitive advantage (IRS, 1997). New employees who have new skill or experience in

some areas are increasingly required by organizations to make changes under market

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competition and finally to obtain new competitive advantage (Storey, 1995). Therefore,

recruitment and selection are not cheap and simple activities, which are regarded as an

important part for modern organization to fulfil their business objectives (Sisson & Storey,

2000). In other words, the higher employers’ awareness of the importance of

organizational core competence, the more attention shall be paid to recruitment and

selection (Storey, 1995).

As for the recruitment, it refers to a series of process such as addressing the requirements

of both company and applicant, evaluating the counterpart’s expectation and finally

making the decision (Storey, 1995). There are four types of recruitment—internal

recruitment, closed searches, responsive methods and open searches (Marchington and

Wilkinson, 2005). With regard to internal recruitment, the oral recommendation was the

traditional method (Kersley et al, 2006). In the 21st century, other modern standards for

internal recruitment (except oral recommendation) are recommended by ACAS, such as

appraisals and career development reviews (Sisson and Storey, 2000). However, UK

organizations prefer to use traditional standard in internal recruitment and this situation

did not change between 1998 and 2004 (Kersley et al, 2006). In the 1960s and 1970s, the

internal labor market is the main characteristic of a mature personnel management

(Boxall and Purcell, 2003). However, there are some critical arguments that the internal

labor market seems to be inflexible, unfair and involving certain discrimination. It also

prevents the valuable experience from entering into the organization (Kersley, et al, 2006).

Hence, external recruitment has been adopted by more and more organizations, especially

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for executive recruitment (Torrington and Mackay, 1986). In the 1990s, recruitment

consultancies of external recruitment were developing quickly both for executive search

and executive selection (Storey, 1995). In the 21st century, E-recruitment is becoming

popular, which refers to the recruitment through the company’s website (Marchington and

Wilkinson, 2005).

With regard to selection, it means the process of evaluating individual fitness and

capability for given positions (Sisson and Storey, 2000). There are several methods of

selection such as references, application forms or working sampling (Marchington and

Wilkinson, 2005). Among all the methods of selection, interview is the most popular and

comparatively cheap way used in selection (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). However,

it is not the only way of selection because its quality can not be guaranteed (Sisson and

Storey, 2000). In the 21st century, some new methods of selection have been introduced,

such as competency test, personality test, or psychometric assessment (Kersley et al,

2006). The competency test is to measure individual potential capability for the specific

job. The personality test is to evaluate the fitness for the given position and culture of the

organization (Kersley et al, 2006). However, some arguments held that it is not accurate

and effective to just use one kind of method, especially the personality test (Blinkhorn

and Johnson, 1990; Robertson and Smith, 2001). Therefore, combined method and some

advanced methods rather than the traditional one are suggested to increase the accuracy

and effectiveness of selection (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005; Schmidt and Hunter,


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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

2.2.2 Training and development

There is not clear consensus on the definition of training (Marchington and Wilkinson,

2005). Training is no longer regarded as just a cost. Rather, it is seen as an investment

(Storey, 1992). In the 21st century, training is defined as a process in which people can

enhance their learning and performance more effectively. It is perhaps the unique method

a company can adopt to improve its staff’s ability (Bramley, 2003). Most of training

concerns health and safety issues (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). With the

development of new technology, employees are required to use these new technologies

for their tasks. Therefore, IT is gradually becoming an important part of training (Pickard,

2003). With the changes of the basic of market competition, training and development is

becoming increasingly important, which is regarded as one of the most essential areas of

Human Resource Management (Sisson and Storey, 2000).

In the nineteenth century, a minimalist training infrastructure and occupational labor

markets emerged within institutional context in the UK. However, only employers were

involved. After the Second World War, the employees were encouraged to be trained and

the cost of training was shared by employers equally (Storey, 2001). In the 21st century,

the importance of management development is recognized once again, which can be

defined as an effective approach to train managers in order to achieve high work

performance (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005; Mumford and Gold, 2004: 14).

Recently, there are several new developments of training, such as coaching, E-learning,

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

continuing professional development, which seem to be more flexible for employee

training (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). Coaching refers to the man-to-man training

covering resourcefulness, interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence (IRS, 2003).

E-learning means a type of education which is provided by media technology (Sloman,

2003). Continuing professional development refers to a positive way of learning which

regards the problems as an opportunity to study (Wood 1988). It is suggested to

encourage the continuing professional development, which can help people to know their

potential ability to make more contributions to the development of organizations

(Megginson and Whitaker, 2003; Stansfield, 2002).

However, some people argue that there are some barriers of the development of training,

such as time and financial constraints (Lloyd, 2002; Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005).

Others state that the investment in people (Iip) can not only help company to retain the

employees but also inspire them to make more contribution to the organization (Storey,

1992). More recently, an increasing number of companies provide “off-the-job” training

to resolve this problem (Kersley et al, 2006). Also, in the 21st century, there are some new

concepts emerging in the process of training development. “Tacit skill” is introduced,

which is a kind of employees’ instinctive ability which allows them to work without

awareness (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). The concept of “Competency” is cited,

which means the activities by which people show their abilities to deal with the

job-related task well (Whiddett and Hollyforde, 2003).

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2.2.3 Reward

In the 1990s, reward was seen as a set of returns for the employee contribution to

organizations (Bloom and Milkovich, 1992). It can be defined as one component of

employment relationship, consisting of two main types—intrinsic reward and extrinsic

reward (Storey, 2001). In the 21st century, reward is regarded as a strategic approach to

HRM, concerning the development of reward processes and practices which are coherent

with organizational strategies, human resource policies and the organizational culture and

environment (Armstrong and Brown, 2001). Also, it can be divided into two

categories—nature of reward (relational or transactional) and the basis of reward

(individual or communal) (Armstrong and Brown, 2000; Storey, 2001). Indeed, reward is

a key element of HRM to manage organizational performance, to stimulate employees’

motivation, and to affect employer’s financial strategy (Hendry, 1994).

In the 1980s and 1990s, the “free-market philosophy” created organizational culture

advocated by the Conservative government, which yielded proper impact on reward

policies (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005: 327). Based on the policies, political and

economic issues of reward, there are various kinds of rewarding system and diversified

payment schemes comparing to the previous “one size fits all”, inflexible and

bureaucratic set of reward package. In the 21st century, the emphasis on reward shifts

from the level of recruiting and motivating employees to the level of managing

organizational performance and affecting organizational values (Lawler, 2000; Armstrong,

2002; Kessler, 2003).

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

In the 1990s, the notion of “New Pay” was introduced by Lawler (1995), Schuster and

Zingheim (1992) in the US, emphasizing the linkage between pay and business objectives.

Later, the concept of “New Pay” presented by Lawler (2000) became an orthodoxy idea

of reward (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). There are two dimensions of rewarding

system—structural content dimension and process dimension. Basis of rewards, pay for

performance, market position, internal-external pay comparisons,

centralized-decentralized reward strategy, and degree of hierarchy and reward mix consist

of the formal procedures and practices of rewarding system, which is the structural

content dimension. Communication policy and decision-making practices refer to the

process dimension of rewarding systems (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). Ponzellini

(1992) claimed that pay strategies and pay systems are influenced by the government’s

policy, new course of HRM practices such as industrial relations and the increasing


Also, there is a shift from the practice of paying for employees’ attendance to the concept

of performance-related pay. Recently, individual contribution rather than traditional job

“size” is becoming an important criteria to determine the employee payment

(Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). In the early 1990s, there was a tendency for

performance-related pay (PRP) system to cultivate a new performance-based culture,

focusing on the objectives and output of performance rather than the input of employees

and their personal qualities. It used qualitative criteria rather than quantitative judgments

to assess individual and organizational performance (Armstrong, 2002; Marchington and

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Wilkinson, 2005). The success of PRP relies on employer perceptions such as the

responsibility for personnel managers to introduce the scheme rather than the employees’

factors (Brown and Armstrong, 1999). On the other hand, Marsden et al (2000) claimed

that whether PRP can strengthen and improve the organizational and individual

performance depends on the approach to classify and allocate employees’ performance

into different performance grades.

Moreover, the pay for performance involves both the individual and collective forms of

reward, which are divided based on unit of performance (Storey, 1995; MacDuffie, 1995;

Walton, 1985). In the early 1990s, it can be seen that individual performance-related pay

(IPRP) such as merit-based pay was an effective rewarding scheme to improve employee

commitment (Kinnie and Lowe, 1990; ACAS, 1990). From employee perspective,

individual reward can not only accurately measure employees’ productivity and effort, but

also encourage employees to perform better than the standard level by paying wage

premium (Shirom and Mar, 1991). Individual pay is relatively fair and scientific to

measure employees’ performance. However, in the late 1990s, collective reward alone

was focused (Arthurs, 1992; Pfeffer, 1998; Cully et al., 1999), which closely linked the

reward of employees with the profits of organizations (Storey, 2001). In the 21st century,

there are certain suggestions of shifting from individual performance related pay to the

concept of team reward (Cox, 2000). Harris (2001) and Torrington et al. (2002) criticized

against PRP. In addition, Makinson (2000) stated that PRP shall be replaced by team

reward. The definition of team reward is similar to that of collective reward in a broad

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

sense. It consists of four main areas including branch network, customer service center,

and intermediary sales and marketing (Storey, 2001). With the increasing

internationalization and globalization, there is a tendency of a multi-faceted phenomenon

combining both individual and collective reward systems and direct management policy

options of reward (Ponzellini, 1992).

Twenty years ago, time-based pay was introduced and utilized in a relatively direct and

simple way (Storey, 2001). In the 21st century, this simple wage system was gradually

replaced by salary systems (pay for job grade) (Thompson, 2000), payment by results

(PBR), enterprise-based schemes (Morley, 2002), performance-related pay (Armstrong,

2002) and skills-based pay (Hastings, 2000) (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). In

addition, the new concepts of “total reward” (Thompson, 2000) and “intrinsic reward”

(Akingbola, 2006) were introduced in recent years. “Total reward” is defined as the

combination of financial and non-financial rewards providing for employees (Armstrong,

2006). “Intrinsic reward” is a kind of socio-psychological return to employees who work

in some particular type of organizations (Akingbola, 2006). However, there is no exact

agreement and consensus on the best reward system (Wood, 1996).

2.2.4 Employee Relations

Employee relation is an important part of HRM (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005).

There is no uniform approach to employee relation because of the different internal or

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

external situations such as the development of union, the changing employment market

condition, labour law or the reform of new technology (Blyton and Tumbull 2004).

Farnham defined employee relation as the “contemporary terms for the field of study

which analyses how the employment relationship between employers and employees is

organized and practiced” (Farnham, 2002; Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005).

Before 1980s, employees were recommended to join the union and work with it in order

to make a harmonious working atmosphere. However, after 1980s, the situation changed

so greatly that some political and legal supports were removed and the protection on

employment was decreasing rapidly (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). Since then,

most organizations have adopted the opportunistic approach to employee relation (Bacon,

2001). During this period, several organs argued that managers should use a strategic

method of employee relation as the traditional approach only can solve the short-term

problems rather than long-term issues (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). However,

managers still prefer to use the opportunistic and pragmatic approach to employee

relations (Bach and Sisson, 2000; Sisson and Marginson, 2003).

In order to fully understand the approach to employee relations, the concept of frames of

reference was introduced, which refers to the manager’s attitude towards labor force.

There are three types of frames of reference—unitarist, pluralist and radical (Bacon,

2001). Unitarist regards an organization as a team and all the employees have a common

goal while the pluralist holds that there are different interest groups with common or

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

diverse interests in an organization (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). The survey

conducted in 1998 revealed that most managers prefer to adopt unitarist (Bacon, 2001).

Radical holds the view that the conflict in employee relations should be explained in a

wider historic and social context (Bacon, 2001). However, in the 21st century,

individualism and collectivism-two terms used in employee relation are easier to

understand and more frequently used in employee relation research than traditional

management frames of reference (unitarist, pluralist and radical) (Bacon, 2001). However,

most organizations have not decided to use which type of approach. They may continue to

face great pressures from both employers and employee representatives (Bacon, 2001). It

is suggested that both the individual and collective approaches shall be used to meet the

requirements of a good employee relation in the future.

The issue of union is the hard core of employee relations. After 1980s, more than half of

the organizations did not recognize the position of union (Towers, 1997), for example, the

absence of work representatives (Cully et al. 1999). The situation became worse during

the period from the 1980s to 1990s. There may be two reasons for declining position of

union, namely, the changes in industrial relation law and the development of modern

industry (e.g. increasing number of service industry and reducing number of

manufacturing industry) (Cully et al, 1998). In the 21st century, the next generation also

shows little interest in being a union member. Most of the new organizations or small

companies are willing to adopt the non-unionism form (Farnham, 2000). Even if the

unions are recognized by organization, the employees’ willingness of being a union

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

member shrank than before (Millward et al. 2000).

Employee involvement (EI) is one of the components of employee relations, aiming at

obtaining competitive advantage, enhancing organizational performance (Marchington,

2001) by means of improved employee commitment and satisfaction with employers

(Storey, 2001). There are four main forms of EI practices—downward communication,

upward problem-solving, task participation and team-working and financial involvement

(Bratton and Gold, 2003). In the 1970s, “Industrial Democracy” was addressed, which

was collectivist and partly initiated by union via the Labor Party. On the contrary, in the

1980s, “Employee involvement” was presented (Marchington, 2005), which was

management-initiated instead of union-initiated. Also, EI was based on individualist

principles that focused on direct information sharing with individual staff (Bratton and

Gold, 2003). Notwithstanding EI has been mentioned for a long time (Brannen et al,

1976), it has been increasingly focused along with the development of globalization and

internationalization, the advent of knowledge economy and the requirements of

information communication and decision-making in organizations (Bratton and Gold,

2003). EI stresses on communication in organizations and employee rights in which

employees are regarded as committed workforce to share the decision-making of

organizations and consequently make more contributions to the organizations (Bratton

and Gold, 2003) rather than the “machine-minders” who do fragmented and repetitive

work (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005).

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

In the 1990s, the government enacted a new Act—Employment Relation Act 1999, which

involved the statutory support of union recognition, better protection for employees and

national minimum wage (Undy, 1999; Wood and Godard, 1999). The main purpose of this

new Act is to promote the partnership (HMSO, 1998), which means that under the

situation the union is both recognized and supported by organizations and employees

(Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005). However, its definition is so ambiguous that there is

no uniform meaning from the perspectives of managers and unions (Undy, 1999; Acker

and Payne, 1998). There are two different views on partnership. Some argued that

partnership may help organizations to resolve financial problem, win public sector

contracts or promote changes (Brown, 2000; Oxenbridge and Brown 2004). Some

skeptics claimed that partnership may bring certain disadvantages to organizations, such

as decelerating the process of decision-making or paying extra money (Marchington and

Wilkinson, 2005). “It is not clear whether partnership agreements will bring greater

returns for managers and trade unions. If returns are not forthcoming for either party then

enthusiasm for the partnership approach may wane” (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005:

203) (Bacon, 2001).

Flexibility is a new concept combining labor, technological, organizational and

systematical flexibility through which an entity may use it to meet the changes and

requirements of the society (Procter and Ackroyd, 2001). Some scholars stated that

organizations are more anxious to achieve numerical and functional flexibility from both

core workers and peripheral workers (Atkinson, 1984; Atkinson and Meager, 1986b;

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

NEDO, 1986). Others argued that in practice, among a large number of sample companies,

only a minority of firms use the “core-periphery” strategy (Wood and Smith, 1989). In the

21st century, in order to adapt to the intensified global competition, the increasing

unemployed workforce, and the rising number of rural and ex-state migrant workers,

organizations have been increasingly using the informal employment policy in response

to the labor flexibility. Moreover, using flexible strategy can not only reduce the overtime

costs for permanent workers but also decrease the working time for full-time employees

required by trade union (O’Reilly, 1992b). However, there are some drawbacks of widely

use of flexible employment policy, such as loosing contractual relationship between

employer and employee, lack of legal and social protection of labor rights, difficulties in

organizing the union by part-time workers (Cooke, 2006). In addition, employers’ abusive

actions will also result in the problem of “worker insecurity” (NACAB, 1997). Although

there are some disadvantages of flexible strategy, informal employment strategy is

increasingly focused around world (Cooke, 2006). According to the fourth Workplace

Employee Relations Survey (WERS4), it pointed out that there was a growing tendency

of employing part-time workers in UK in 1998 (Procter and Ackroyd, 2001).

It is of vital importance for HRM by integrating employment relations with business

planning (Pfeffer, 1995; Storey, 1992; Guest and Peccei, 1994). In other word, the better

management of employee relations, the higher performance business strategy can achieve

(Kersley et al, 2006). On the one hand, employment relations exert significant influence

on strategic business decisions through the involvement of HR managers who play a vital

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

role in the process of devising and managing business plans, especially the issue of

employment relations. On the other hand, to what extent employment relations can be

integrated into business strategy by employers is the presence of a top-governing or

board-level employment relations representative (Kersley et al, 2006). In fact, according

to the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey, the proportion of integrating

employee relations with business strategy did hardly change and HR managers were less

willing to be dedicated to the business strategy in 2004 than in 1998 (Kersley et al, 2006).

2.3 International Human Resource Management

By the late 1980s, international competition became fiercer throughout the whole world,

which caused significant influence on business performance of every firm rather than the

industrial giants only (Evans et al, 2002). The statistics show that the percentage of U. S.

economy exposed to international competition rocketed from 6% in the 1960s to more

than 70% in the late 1980s. With the expansion of global economy, the pressure and

competition of unified international market and the emergence of new technologies, it is

both necessary and important to implement strategic realignment and reconfigure HRM

approaches and practices in order to meet the challenge of external environment and

needs of changing business arena. The success of “Japanese challenge” proves that

distinctive HRM approaches and practices play an essential role in improving employees’

skills, commitment and organizational interconnections and achieving the competitive

advantage. West companies started to focus on the characteristics of Japanese HRM, for

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

example, continuous improvement, team based appraisal and reward and consultative

decision-making (Evans et al, 2002).

For the international companies, how to recruit and select, train and develop, and reward

people are the main issues of international human resource management (IHRM).

However, facing the challenges of unified global market, multinational diversity and

flexibility, it is difficult for international companies to make decision on HR

policies—whether “convergence” or “divergence” (Armstrong, 2006). Convergence

basically means using the same policy in each location, which may be developed with the

increasing pressure and universal benchmarking of cost, quality and productivity

(Brewster, 2004). On the contrary, divergence may be more appropriate in view of

different cultural background and local requirements (Armstrong, 2006). For international

HRM, cultural diversity is one of the main issues (Armstrong, 2006), which exerts

impacts on HR practices to large extent, such as decision-making, face-to-face feedback,

rewarding systems and different notions of social justice (Sparrow and Hiltrop, 1997).

In order to deal with the problem of cultural differences and culture shock in IHRM, most

international companies dispatch expatriates abroad to take the positions of local firm

which is short of technical or managerial skills, to support management development

through which expatriate can gain experience of local operations, and to enhance

organizational development (Evans et al, 2002). On the one hand, expatriates act as a

corporate agency in the international companies, most of who are dispatched abroad for a

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

long period (usually at least three years). On the other hand, they also play the role of

problem solving by being assigned abroad for a relative short-term period. However, with

the improvement of local management and technology skills, the key role of expatriates is

turned to develop organizational management and improve the worldwide coordination

competence rather than to fill the local skills gap. Moreover, recently, dispatching

expatriates is regarded as an essential part of career advancement for young individuals

with great potential, focusing on short-term learning rather than long-term teaching

(Evans et al, 2002). From the perspective of HRM practice, expatriation involves a series

of process such as selection, preparation and training, adjustment, management, reward

and repatriation. The selection standards and criteria are based on the level of technical

expertise and domestic track record (Evans et al, 2002). However, it is evident that the

inability to arrange the whole family of expatriate in other country causes negative

influence on the expatriation (Tung, 1981; Black and Stephens, 1989). Hence,

organizations are widely suggested to assess other abilities, such as cross-cultural ability

or family’s ability of adjusting to live abroad. Meanwhile, early training is as important

and necessary as selection because expatriates will spend less time in adjusting to the new

environment abroad if they accept training in advance (Evans et al, 2002). However, there

are some problems related to expatriates, such as high cost of expatriates, high possibility

of assignment failure (Tung, 1981; Black et al, 1992) and local governmental pressures

and policies. Hence, some international companies tend to hire local people rather than

rotating expatriates in overseas subsidiaries so that local managers are greatly encouraged

to make their contributions to organizations (Evans et al, 2002).

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

2.4 Review of the previous HRM work

Frege (2005) conducted “the varieties of industrial relations research—take-over,

convergence or divergence”. Based on the articles published in the USA, Britain and

Germany carrying out a comparative research of industrial relations (IR), the author

discussed how and in what ways IR (industrial relations) research was affected by the

trends of internationalization and globalization. The study carried out the different IR

research patterns in three countries, especially focusing on the changes between USA and

British research patterns, which challenges the homogeneous Anglo-Axon common

research style. Furthermore, the study implied that although the development of

internationalization, there were still continually national specific IR research cultures and

traditions (Frege, 2005).

In order to explore the changes in a more scientific and accurate way, several research

questions were addressed. Firstly, whether the national IR research styles are affected by

the increasing internationalization? Then, whether the dominant Anglo-Saxon research

style will be replaced and whether the various national styles will be converged by the

increasing internationalization. Thirdly, is there a tendency of adopting divergent national

research patterns? Finally, what is the future of IR research discipline? (Frege, 2005)

The research carried out the comparative content analysis, investigating the most

prominent IR journals in the three countries and selecting 1309 papers as sample data.

There are two US journals: Industrial and Labor Relations Review (ILRR) and Industrial

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Relations (IndR), two British journals: British Journal of Industrial Relations (BJIR) and

Industrial Relations Journal (IRJ) and one journal from Germany—Industrielle

Beziehungen (IB). The sample consisted of 666 US articles, 552 British articles and 91

German articles during the period of 1970-1973 and 1994-2000—representing the 1970s

and 1990s. In other words, from the longitudinal perspective, there are 390 articles from

the 1970s and 919 articles from the 1990s.

In order to clearly present the various aspects of research patterns and to explore the

research questions and objectives, the research patterns were classified into four

variables—‘the nationality of author’, ‘authors’ disciplinary affiliation’, ‘the article

subject’ and ‘the methodology’.

1) The nationality of author was divided into four main groups—‘Anglo-Saxon’, ‘Asia’,

‘Continental Europe’, and ‘the rest of world’. However, according to the research

sample, USA, UK and Germany were separated from their relevant groups to be

independent variables in the comparison.

2) Authors’ disciplinary affiliation. This variable was generally divided into ‘IR/HR and

business school’, ‘economists/labour economists’ and ‘other social scientist’.

3) The article subject. There were three main topics—‘industrial relations’ (IR), ‘human

resource’ (HR) and ‘labour market’ (MR). More specifically, IR issues comprised

‘collective bargaining’, ‘industrial democracy’, ‘unions’, ‘state’, ‘international’,

‘labour process’, ‘social issues’ and ‘other IR issues’. HR issues consist of

‘hiring/turnover’, ‘training/education’, ‘career’, ‘individual motivation’,

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

‘performance’, ‘labour productivity’, ‘employee participation’ and ‘general human

resource management’. LM issue was classified into the sub-topics as ‘labour market

trends’, ‘pay systems’ and ‘working time’ (including contingent work).

4) The methodology, which was clustered into three main groups: ‘empirical’, ‘think

piece’ and ‘theoretical’. The empirical was divided into empirical descriptive,

empirical analytical-inductive and empirical analytical-deductive. In addition, the

author distinguished the methodologies by using of other criteria, such as quantitative

or qualitative; small or large data sets; comparative, historical/longitudinal or

one-time period; macro/societal, industrial, firm or micro.

Through comparative longitudinal analysis, there were six findings emphasized by the

author. Firstly, US journals were a little bit ethnocentric than the British journals and the

German journals were the least ethnocentric. Although there were more diverse

nationalities of authors who published IR articles in British and German journals than in

the US journal, it was hard to predict that any one of the three journals was being truly

international in accordance with the nationality of authors. Secondly, IR in the three

countries was dominated by different people. IR in the USA was dominated by labour

economists and was controlled by IR/HR/business scholars in Britain. Moreover, it was

dominated by other social scientists in Germany. The above findings challenged the

assumption that more inter-disciplinary research should be carried out in Anglo-Saxon

countries than that in other countries as IR as an independent discipline in Anglo-Saxon

countries (Frege, 2005). The third finding revealed that there was a decline of IR issues in

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

US journals since the early 1980s, which may be caused by the descending number of

unions and collective bargaining in US employment relations (Frege, 2005). In addition,

the findings significantly showed that there was a small percentage of German research

conducted the HR topic. On the contrary, most of the German research topic was in the

field of IR. Fourthly, the findings were consistent with the widespread argument that

Anglo-Saxon social science were more likely to be conduct empirical and pragmatic IR

research in comparison with the more theoretical and critical German IR research.

However, among the Anglo-Saxon countries, the USA was generally more empirically

oriented than the UK. The next finding is that in the 1990s, quantitative method was most

widely used in the publications in the USA journals. In contrast, most articles in British

journals adapt qualitative research method. The finding challenged an assumption that,

there was a global tendency toward quantification research method regarding to the IR

discipline since the 1970s (Frege, 2005). The last findings presented that it was likely to

carry out one-time research instead of comparative or longitudinal research in all three

countries. However, the scale of data selection was quite different. Investigating

large-scale data was preferred by US research and Britain and Germany research were

biased towards self-collected small-scale data.

Finally, the author made a conclusion that although the internationalization is speeding up

continuously, IR research keeps to be carried out in nationally specific research cultures

and traditions (Frege, 2005).

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Chapter Three Methodology

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

3.1 Research Questions

Based on Frege’s (2005) findings, this research will follow most of the research patterns

and methodologies used in previous studies. However, unlike Frege’s (2005) research

which focused on the national research styles in IR journals for three countries, this

research will explore the changes in the field of HRM focusing on not only research

patterns but also the content of topics. A comparative content analysis of articles

published in the International Journal of Human Resource Management (IJHRM)—an

international, scholar-based journal in the field of HRM (Poole, 1990) is carried out to

investigate the following research questions of HRM: (1) what are the main changes in

the field of HRM focusing on research patterns and the content of topics. (2) How and

why key areas of HRM have been changed? (3) Is it a tendency of HRM


3.2 Selection of research method

It is quite difficult to decide whether to use qualitative research method or quantitative

research method in this research. In the academic field, the differences between

qualitative and quantitative research methods are debated from different perspectives,

such as research styles, objectives and forms. Symon and Cassell (1998) claimed that

qualitative research methods are more suitable to gain in-depth understanding and to

obtain abundant resources of society and social phenomena. Patton (2002) argued that

compared with the broad, generalizable findings of quantitative method, qualitative

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

approach is richer and deeper, but less able to be generalized. Contextual analysis rather

than statistical data is often used in qualitative research to describe and explain the

subjective and meanings of social situation and to enhance the validity of research (Popay

et al, 1998; Strauss and Corbin, 1990). However, Marshall and Rossman (1995) argued

that quantitative methods are appropriate to be used to verify or confirm theories,

mathematically or statistically presenting the findings succinctly and neatly (Patton,

2002). Quantitative research can classify, count or construct the measurable features and

models such as parameters, variables, factors (Cohen and Manion, 1994; Shaw, 1999).

Compared with qualitative research method, quantitative approach is more efficient,

reliable, valid and objective from the subjective matter (Shaw, 1999).

It is of vital importance to select appropriate research methods which cause impacts on

different findings and results. The results derived from quantitative research will present a

rounded and scientific phenomenon (Davies, 2007) in form of relatively objective

numbers and statistics (Shaw, 1999). However, quantitative method may be short of

contextual detail (Shaw, 1999) and neglect the casual relationship to certain extent

(Marshall and Rossman, 1995). In contrast, the results come from qualitative research

method are more detailed description of the cases or situations in form of words and

pictures (Shaw, 1999).

From the above mentioned, although the research is clearly aware of the advantage of the

qualitative research method, it is appropriate to use quantitative research method rather

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

than qualitative approach in this study for investigating a large sample, examining and

classifying the changes of several variables. Therefore, the researcher adopted

quantitative research as the research method in this study to review the articles published

in IJHRM, to collect and examine the variables from the existing data, which is seemed as

quality assessment in laboratory (Cohen and Manion, 1994). As Davies (2007) stated that

it is reliable and objective to gather information closely related to the question asked. In

views of the proportion of each category via quantitative approach, it is clear to find

whether HRM has been changed or not as well as which areas of HRM has been changed

based on the quantifiable data and quantitative evaluations. Also, Anthony et al. (2007)

indicated that scientific research procedures and logical processes are better than any

other forms of approach. Hence, the researcher decided to employ the quantitative

research method.

Moreover, in order to explore the changes in the field of HRM, the researcher primarily

opted for empirical research rather than theoretical method, which is more inductive,

heuristic and explorative (Frege, 2005). Although some sociologist state that established

“facts” cannot be regarded as fixed “eternal truths”, it is more appropriate to answer

particular research questions by data collection and experimental observations. Others

scholars like Kerlinger (1970: 8) pointed out that social scientific research method is a

“systematic, controlled, empirical and critical investigation of hypothetical propositions

about presumed relations among natural phenomenon.” In addition, it is almost

impossible to contain the content analysis of the research for a large sample (Frege, 2005).

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Indeed, empirical research can not only test the theoretical system (Walliman, 2006) but

also reveal the ample evidence for social research.

Furthermore, sample selection is of vital importance for an empirical research. The reason

for the researcher to select the sample journal—the International Journal of Human

Resource Management (IJHRM) can be explained from the nature of the journal which is

closely related to the research questions. Firstly, it is a universal journal concerning with

the tendency of HRM on the global and international level. Secondly, it involves a wide

range of issues in the field of HRM such as reward systems, industrial relations, employee

involvement. Also, it focuses on the relationship between academic research and the

empirical implications for international business and practical management


2). Hence, the researcher can examine whether there is a tendency of international HRM

from the articles in IJHRM and investigate the areas that HRM has changed on the basis

of international articles.

3.3 Research Process

The content analysis is based on the articles chosen from IJHRM comprising two time

periods—1990-1992 (the early 1990s) and 2006 (the 21st century). The time gap can fully

reveal the changes between two time periods and help us to explore the future trends. The

sample articles from IJHRM are easy to access and meaningful to compare between two

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

time periods, containing 106 articles—53 articles from 1990-1992 and 2006 in IJHRM

respectively. The research patterns focused on seven variables: nationality of institution of

the authors, nature of article, number of research method, research method of empirical

papers, single/comparative countries, research topics and managers or non-managers. The

detailed variables were classified as follows:

1) The nationality of institution of the authors (in case of two or more authors from

different nationalities of institutions, it counts all the nationalities of institutions of

the authors) was classified into four groups—Anglo-Saxon (includes the UK, USA,

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland); Continental European (western and

eastern Europe: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland,

Denmark, Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Poland, Slovakia, Norway,

Czechoslovakia); Asian (China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and India); and the rest of the

world (Israel, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Russia, Iran, Nigeria, South America

(Argentina), Pakistan, Sir Lanka). In order to further investigate the changes of the

nationality of institution of the authors, the researcher separated two independent

variables from Anglo-Saxon countries (UK and USA are divided into two

independent groups) institutions of the authors.

2) Nature of article was broadly clustered into ‘theoretical’, ‘empirical’ and ‘both

theoretical and empirical’. ‘Theoretical’ research is regarded as a kind of textual

analysis, describing the results or grand theories which have not been fully examined

by practices or observation. ‘Empirical’ term refers to experimental or observational

research to directly or indirectly test the theories and reality, which may be based on

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

hypothetico-deductive processes (Seale et al, 2004).

3) Number of research method was generally classified into ‘one’ research method and

‘more than one’ research method. This variable will show the tendency of research

patterns. If there is a tendency to use one research method, it is worth for us to

explore which is the most frequently used approach. While, if there is a trend to use

more than one research method, it is worth for us to investigate the commonly used


4) Research method of empirical papers was generally divided into ‘Case study based

qualitative work’ and ‘Survey based quantitative work’. Empirical study can be

separated into two categories—quantitative research method and qualitative research

method. ‘Case study based qualitative work’ involves qualitative case study such as

interview. While, ‘Survey based quantitative work’ contains questionnaire and survey

collecting quantitative data such as closed questions. The data were collected and

concluded from empirical articles or both empirical and theoretical articles.

5) Single/Comparative countries concern the content of the articles which investigated

‘Single country’ and ‘Comparative countries’ of HRM. ‘Single country’ means the

articles that just focus on researching one country. Further, it is divided into six

specific issues to present in-depth analysis of each category: US, UK, Anglo-Saxon

(excluding the US and UK), Continental Europe, Asia and the rest of world.

‘Comparative countries’ means the contents of the papers covering more than one

country. It is also clustered into six specific issues which are same as the

classification of ‘Single country’.

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

6) Research topics were broadly classified into six categories: ‘Employee Relations’

(ER), ‘Recruitment and Selection’, ‘Training and Development’, ‘Reward’, ‘Human

Resource Management’ (HRM), ‘Others’ issues. The general topics were based on the

main content of Marchington and Wilkinson’s (2005) study and were further

specified based on the sample articles in IJHRM. ER issues involved several specific

topics such as ‘union’, ‘integration of employee relations’, ‘internal employee

relations’, ‘flexible employment strategy’, ‘employee involvement’ and ‘workplace

friendship’. In addition, ‘Recruitment and Selection’ issues comprised the following

topics—‘internal labor market recruitment’, ‘expatriate selection’, ‘relation-based

regulation of recruitment’ and ‘recruitment in non-profit organizations’. Moreover,

‘Training and development’ issues concentrated on the topics of ‘management

development’, ‘expatriate training’, and ‘job rotation’. Further, ‘Reward’ issues

concerned the following topics: ‘payment systems’, ‘reward systems’ (financial and

intrinsic reward), ‘individual wage’, ‘performance-related pay’ and ‘new pay’. HRM

issues referred to some topics like ‘general human resource management’,

‘international human resource management’, ‘human resource development’ and

‘human resource practice’. Finally, ‘Others’ issues focused on firm-specific topics,

such as ‘employee turnover’, ‘career’ (career success and career planning), ‘structural

adjustment’ and ‘culture differences in multinational corporations (MNCs)’.

7) Managers or Non-managers was divided by the content of the sampled articles.

‘Managers’ mean the content of articles concerning for managers alone. However,

‘Non-managers’ involve employees without managers.

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

3.4 Research Limitations

There are some limitations of methodology in this study. First of all, due to the limited

time, the size of sample collection is relatively small. Notwithstanding that using

small-scale sampled articles will reduce the errors of collecting larger number of the

entire data and spend more time on exploring the in-depth comprehensive changes in the

field of HRM, in fact, the larger data collected, the more valid consequences obtained.

Also, the researcher studied one journal (IJHRM) rather than comparing several journals

which may be different from sample journal, which may lead to different results. Finally,

the topics of sampled articles were divided in accordance with main topics. However,

some articles involved several topics, which results in difficulties in deciding the key

topics of those articles.

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Chapter Four Results

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Year/Nationality of institution of the author

Country Anglo-Saxon
Continental Rest of
US UK (exclude USA Asia Total
Europe world
Year and UK)

4 22 11 16 3 5 61


6.56% 36.06% 18.03% 26.23% 4.92% 8.20% 100%

8 17 12 15 10 3 65


12.31% 26.15% 18.46% 23.08% 15.38% 4.62% 100%

Table1: Year/Nationality of institution of the authors

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

It can be seen from the table 1, from the early 1990s to 2006, there are great

differences in the number of authors from institutions of different nationalities.

According to the figure, in 2006, there were 12.31% authors from US institutions who

had carried on researches in the field of HRM, up from 6.65% in 1990-1992. In Asian

institutions, the number of authors in this area also increased significantly, from

4.92% (3) in 1990-1992 to 15.38% (10) in 2006. However, in the same period, the

institutions in Britain have witnessed the decrease of authors who have devoted

themselves in this area, declining from 36.06% (22) to 26.15% (17). Moreover, in

both continental Europe and Anglo-Saxon (exclude USA and UK) institutions, there

were no substantial changes in both the number and percentage of authors in this area,

in spite of the fact that there was a decreasing tendency in the rest of the world, from

8.32% in 1990-1992 down to 4.62% in 2006.

Note: The total number of journals in 1990, 1991 and 1992 and in 2006 was more

than 53 (sample number/ n=53) respectively as there are more than one nationality of

institution of authors in one article.

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Year/Nature of Article

Nature of
Article Both Theoretical
Theoretical Empirical Total
and Empirical

22 23 8 53
41.51% 43.40% 15.09% 100%

7 18 28 53
13.21% 33.96% 52.83% 100%

Table 2: Year/Nature of Article

As indicated in this table 2, it is noticeable to see certain differences in the nature of

the article between the early 1990s and 2006. In the early 1990s, there were 22

theoretical articles, accounting for 41.51% of the total. However, in 2006, the

number rapidly dropped to 7, which was only 13.21%. On the contrary, the number

of articles using both theoretical and empirical methods dramatically ascended from

15.09 % (8) in 1990-1992 to 52.83 % (28) in 2006. Despite all these differences,

there are no great changes in the number of articles in which entirely empirical

methods have been used, slightly lessening from 43.40% (23) in the early 1990s to

33.96% (18) in 2006.

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Year/ Research method of empirical papers

Case study based
Method Survey based quantitative
qualitative work Total
work (questionnaire)

16 17 33
48.48% 51.52% 100%

24 31 55
43.64% 56.36% 100%

Table 3: Year/ Research method of empirical papers

As for the research methods of empirical papers, it has experienced smoothly

increase in the survey based quantitative work which takes form in questionnaire,

from 51.52% in the early 1990s to 56.36% in 2006, rising by around 5% in the

period. Surprisingly, the percentage of using case study based qualitative work

(interview) from 1990-1992 (48.48%) to 2006 (43.64%) has equally decreased by

about 5%.

Note: The total number of empirical papers is larger than the sample number of

empirical articles—23 papers in 1990-1992, 18 papers in 2006 for the reason that

several articles use both case study-based qualitative work and survey-based

quantitative work.

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Year/ Single Country/ Comparative Countries

Single comparative Total

27 25 52
51.92% 48.08% 100%

38 15 53
71.70% 28.30% 100%

Table 4: Year/Single Country/ Comparative Countries

While the number of articles that only deal with single country has grown

significantly by 20% from 51.92% in the early 1990s to 71.70% in 2006. However,

the number of researches on comparative countries has jumped considerably from

48.08% (25) in 1990-1992 to 28.30% (15) in 2006.

Note: The total number of articles in 1990-1992 was less than 53 (sample number/

n=53) for the reason that the content of one article did not refer to any country, just

generally introducing HRM.

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Year/ Single Country

US UK (exclude USA Asia Rest of world Total
and UK)

0 8 6 5 4 4 27


0.00% 29.63% 22.22% 18.53% 14.81% 14.81% 100.00%

3 1 6 10 12 6 38


7.89% 2.63% 15.79% 26.32% 31.58% 15.79% 100.00%

Table 5: Year/ Single Country

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Table 5 offers us a glimpse of the trends in the number and proportions of articles on

single country in different areas of the world. It is shown that US, Continent Europe,

Asia, and rest of the world all experience relatively increase in the number and

percentages of single country investigations in the field of HRM. There was a

dramatic rise in the percentage of Asian country studies from 14.81% in 1990-1992

to 31.58% in 2006. Also, the percentage of US country investigations has suddenly

ascended from 0% to 7.89%. Compared with the proportions of the above two

countries’ studies which are noticeable increasing, Continental Europe and rest of the

world mount mildly—respectively rise from 18.53% to 26.32% and 14.81% to

15.79% between the early 1990s and 2006. However, the figure of UK researches

has steeply dropped from 29.63% (8) in 1990-1992to 2.63% (1) in 2006. As for

Anglo-Saxon countries (exclude USA and UK), the percentage steadily fluctuated

around 20%, slightly declining from 22.22% to 15.79%.

Note: The total number of articles in both the early 1990s and 2006 was less than 53

(sample number/ n=53) for the reason that not all the sample articles research single


As can be seen from the table 6, the number and proportions of articles investigating

comparative countries comprising Anglo-Saxon (exclude USA and UK), Asia, and

rest of world have gradually gone up from the early 1990s to 2006. The most

significant increasing area is Asia, which has grown from 12.70% in 1990-1992

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Year/Comparative countries

Continental Rest of
US UK (exclude USA Asia Total
Europe world
and UK)

11 17 8 21 8 2 63


17.46% 26.98% 6.35% 33.33% 12.70% 3.18% 100%

2 3 9 9 9 3 30


6.67% 10.00% 13.33% 30.00% 30.00% 10% 100%

Table 6: Year/Comparative countries

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

to 30.00% in 2006. Also, the proportion of Anglo-Saxon (exclude USA and UK) has

climbed from 6.35% to 13.33%. Moreover, the same trend can also be seen in rest of

the world—rising from 3.18% in the early 1990s to 10% in 2006. However, the

proportions of articles investigating UK, US and Continental Europe counties have

declined from the early 1990s to 2006. UK is the most obviously declining variable

among the comparative countries, which dropped from 26.98% to 10.00% between

the early 1990s and 2006. Also, there were certain decreases in the proportions of US

(17.46% to 6.67%) and Continental Europe (33.33% to 30.00%) from 1990-1992 to


Note: The total numbers of articles both in 1990-1992 and in 2006 were more than the

sample number (25 and 15 respectively) for the reason that there were several articles

concern more than two comparative countries.

Year/manager or non-manager
man managers non-managers Both Total

10 43 0 53
18.87% 81.13% 0% 100%
14 36 3 53
26.42% 67.92% 5.66% 100%

Table 7: Year/manager or non-manager

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Years/ Topics

Recruitment and Training and Employee
HRM Reward Others Total
Selection Development Relations

16 2 7 6 20 8 59


27.12% 3.39% 11.86% 10.17% 33.90% 13.56% 100%

5 8 7 7 21 19 67

7.46% 11.94% 10.45% 10.45% 31.34% 28.36% 100%

Table 8: Years/ Topic

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Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

As we can see from the table 7, from the early 1990s to 2006, the figure of researches on

managers has increased by around 10%, from 18.87% (10) to 26.42% (14). In addition, it

is obvious to find that in the early 1990s there is no article concerning both mangers and

non-managers, while in 2006, there were 3 papers mentioned that, accounting for 5.66%.

Nevertheless, the proportion of non-manager investigation has dropped slightly, from

81.12% (43) to 67.92% (36).

As far as the topics shown from table 8, from the early 1990s to 2006, more researches

conducted on the topics like ‘recruitment and selection’, ‘reward’ and ‘others’. The most

evident increase is shown on topic—‘others’, rising from 13.56% to 28.36%. Also, with

regard to ‘recruitment and selection’ topic, there was a greatly rise from 3.39% in

1990-1992 to 11.94% in 2006. By contrast, the researches on ‘reward’ topic had no

dramatic change in the period, slightly going up from 10.17% to 10.45%. These relative

stable figures can also be seen on ‘training and development’, ‘employee relations’ topics,

which have slightly declined from 11.86% to 10.45% and from 33.90% to 31.34%

respectively. However, the proportion of general HRM topic has fallen dramatically to

7.46% in 2006 compared with 27.12% in the early 1990s.

Note: The total number of articles in 1990-1992 and in 2006 was respectively more than

53 (sample number/ n=53) for the reason that several articles covered more than one


Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Chapter Five Discussion and analysis

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

1990,1991,1992 2006

Nature of Article
Primarily UK (26%) authors
Primarily UK. authors (36%)
Fairly stable—Continental Europe
A large share of Continental
Nationality of (24%) and Anglo-Saxon (18%)
Europe (26%) and Anglo-Saxon
Institution of the authors
(18%) authors
author Some US (12%) and Asia (15%)
A few US (7%) and Rest of
world (8%),Asia (5%) authors
Few (5%)
Primarily Theoretical (42%) and Primarily both theoretical and
Theoretical and Empirical (43%) Empirical (53%)
Empirical A few both theoretical and Some Continental Europe (34%)
Empirical (15%) Very few Theoretical (13)
Case study based
Some Survey based quantitative Some Survey based quantitative
qualitative work
work (questionnaire) (52%) work (questionnaire) increase
(interview) and
Some Case study based (56%)
Survey based
qualitative work (interview) Case study based qualitative work
quantitative work
(48%) (interview) decrease (44%)
Content of the article
Some single country (52%)
Single country and Primarily single country (72%)
Some comparative countries
Comparative countries Few comparative countries (28%)
Primarily UK (29%) Primarily Asia (32%)
A large share of Continental A large share of Continental
Europe (21%) and Anglo-Saxon Europe (26%)
Single country (21%) Some Anglo-Saxon (16%) and
Some Asia (14%) and Rest of Rest of World (16%)
World (14%) A few US (8%)
Virtually non US Very few (3%)

Mainly Continental Europe Mainly Continental Europe (30%)

(33%) and Asia (30%)
Second UK (27%) and US (17%) Second Anglo-Saxon (13%)
Comparative countries
Some Asia (13%) Some UK (10%) and Rest of
A few Anglo-Saxon (6%) World (10%)
Very few Rest of World (3%) Few US (7%)

Primarily non-manager (68%)

Primarily non-manager (81%) Some manager (26%)
A few manager (19%) A few both manager and
non-manager (6%)
Primarily Employee relations
Primarily Employee relation
(34%) and HRM (27%)
(31%) and others (28%)
Second others (14%), training
Second recruitment and selection
Topics and development (12%) and
(12%), training and development
reward (10%)
(10%) and reward (10%)
Very few Recruitment and
A few HRM (7%)
selection (3%)

Table 9: The research patterns of the International Journal of Human Resource Management

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

5.1 Research patterns of the articles

5.1.1 Nature of articles

HRM started in US and took up in UK in the 1980s. Since that, it should have been

experiencing a continuous increase of authors from UK institutions doing HRM research.

It can be seen from the table that there is a slightly declining number of authors in the UK

institutions. The reason for this phenomenon may be explained that the authors from UK

institutions tend to carry out studies in some specialized areas or one specific field of

HRM and then publish in other journals, such as International Journal of Educational

Management, International Journal of Selection & Assessment, Career Development

International. Moreover, the decreasing number of authors in UK institutions may be

interpreted from the political perspective. There are two opposite sides of UK political

party—left wing and right wing. The left wing party upholds high taxation, progressive

taxes, regulated markets and high public services. In the early 1990s, managers had a lot

of choices and they could determine employment. However, right-wing party supports

low taxation, regressive taxes, free markets and low public services. With the emergence

of “New Labor” in 1997 in Britain, there were an increasing number of laws and

regulations related to workforce and labor market. The more labor laws and labor market

regulations, the less choices managers have. However, IR (industrial relations) and HRM

(human resource management) are often regarded as the opposite ways of regulating.

Hence, since 1997, more authors from UK institutions have tended to study IR type issues

rather than HRM type issues due to political change. The authors from UK institutions are

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

more likely to publish in IR journals, such as the British Journal of Industrial Relations

(BJIR) and the Industrial Relations Journals (IRJ).

Although a growing number of authors from US institutions published in the

International Journal of Human Resource Management (IHRM) in 2006, it cannot

indicate that a rising number of HRM studies in the US. Because IJRM has become one

of the criterions for MBA recruitment in the US university ranking list since 2002, which

attracted high attention and recognition by the US institutions. Hence, authors from US

institutions just focus on publishing in the journal rather than doing any HRM researches.

That is to say, it indicates a growing quantity of HRM publications rather than an

increasing quality of researches, which is regarded as the key reason for this increasing

number of the authors in US institutions. However, a dramatic acceleration of authors

from Asian institutions publishing in IJHRM may be explained from four perspectives.

Firstly, HRM plays an essential role in the process of the economic development in Asia.

It is regarded as “resourceful humans” and valued assets management rather than

managing the cost of humans. Secondly, more educational institutions in Asia set up

HRM courses and issue professional HRM qualifications as well. Thirdly, as the

academic areas are becoming international, more and more cross-nation conferences, joint

international publications and communications have been emerged in Asia in recent years,

which generally emphasize the prevailing HRM topics. In additional, there are an

increasing number of Asian students studying HRM abroad, which may lead to the

growth of authors from Asian institutions publishing in IJHRM. The last but not the least,

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

most of the Asian countries is developing countries which have great room for HRM

research and development. Therefore, an increasing number of authors from Asian

institutions tend to conduct researches in the field of HRM.

Whereas, the changes in the number of authors in Anglo-Saxon countries (exclude USA

and UK) and Continental Europe are not significant from 1990, 1991 and 1992 to 2006. It

may be construed that the perfect employment legislation in Continental Europe has not

changed greatly during the period. Thus, there is little room for authors to carry out HRM


Secondly, from the table, it is evident to find that approximately half of the articles use

either theoretical (41.51%) or empirical (43.40%) method and only a few of them

(15.09%) use both theoretical and empirical researches in 1990, 1991 and 1992. However,

in 2006, there is a slight decline of using empirical method and a dramatic decrease of

adopting of theoretical method compared with those in the early 1990s. On the one hand,

notwithstanding that the number of empirical research is fairly declining, it is considered

as an effective and practical way to find out something new in the area of HRM, such as

practical models. As Mitchell (2001) argues, social science is becoming more empirically

and pragmatically oriented. This can also be supported by Schorske (1997) stating that

there is a long-standing tendency to use pragmatic and positivist research in US academia.

On the other hand, the theoretical and critical research of HRM is of vital importance,

which is the basis of social science. For example, German research is biased to use

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

theoretical research (Delanty, 1997). Therefore, authors tend to use both theoretical and

empirical researches in the International Journal of Human Resource Management

(IJHRM) in 2006, growing from 15.09% to 52.83%. The changing situation signifies that

the research methods of articles are becoming more scientific and sophisticated, which

undermines that the combination of both theoretical and empirical methods are more

appropriate for HRM studies. With the intensified internationalization and global

cooperation, it shall be the tendency to strike a proper balance between both empirical

and theoretical research methods by using of their benefits and eliminating their


Thirdly, as can be seen from the table, in 1990, 1991 and 1992, the proportion of survey

based quantitative work and case study based qualitative work accounted for similar

percentage—52% and 48% respectively. However, in 2006, the authors tended to use

more survey based quantitative work—from 51.52% to 56.36%. The trend of increasing

use of survey based quantitative work may be explained by the global trend of quantified

research since the 1970s. (Frege, 2005) In addition, apart from such advantages as

relatively low cost and high reliability, survey is also able to describe the features of

myriad of population, to investigate a large sample and to analyze multiple variables.

Moreover, it may be interpreted by the emergence of computerization of social science.

With the development of technology and internet, it is more convenient for authors to do

survey from remote locations. Recently, survey based quantitative work (questionnaire) is

more widely used than case study based qualitative work (interviews).

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

5.1.2 Content of articles

Firstly, it is shown from table that the content of the articles tend to cover single country

rather than comparative countries, which leads to increasing contents of articles focusing

on one country only. It may be interpreted that it is difficult to investigate more than one

country due to the language and time barriers. Moreover, the quality of data selected from

comparative countries may be less reliable and valid. According to Frege (2005: 202),

data collection is one of the challenges and arguments for researchers. Indeed, it is much

safer for authors to collect and analyze the data in single country. Furthermore, Britain

and Germany are biased to use self-collected small-scale data and one-time research

rather than large-scale data and comparative research (Frege, 2005). From the first row of

the table—“Nationality of Institution of the authors”, it is clear that UK and Continental

Europe institutions from which authors publishing in the journal are the two primary

organizations in 2006. Hence, the increasing number of study of one country may be

affected by research preferences of institutions in UK and Continental Europe (especially

in Germany) to a large extent.

Secondly, there is a dramatic drop of exploring HRM in UK and a sharp ascend of

studying HRM in Asian countries, which may be attributed to the increasing number of

Asian students studying business courses and obtaining Master’s and Ph. D. degrees in

UK or other foreign countries. Most of them are preferred to carry out researches on

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

HRM issues in Asia based on the knowledge obtained at home and abroad. In contrast,

less native British students are willing to pursue Ph. D. degree than Asian students. This

may explain the increasing concentration on HRM in Asian countries rather than in UK in

2006. Moreover, the explanation may be explicated from the perspective of nationality of

institution of authors—rapid increasing number of Asian institutions of authors in 2006.

The authors from Asian institutions may be tended to study HRM issues of their own

countries as they are more familiar with the political and economic environment as well

as labor laws and regulations than the authors from other nations. In addition, with the

development of Asian economies and the improvement of labor laws and regulations,

HRM has gradually been regarded as an important issue for both scholars and business

practitioners since the 1980s. However, in view of sound labor regulations and laws in

Anglo-Saxon (exclude USA and UK) and Continental Europe countries, there is little

room for improvements of HRM studies which remain relatively stable from the early

1990s to 2006. Interestingly, virtually none of the articles studied HRM research in US in

1990, 1991 and 1992. As the IJHRM has become one of the criterions to measure the US

University Ranking since 2002, more and more articles started to focus on HRM issues of

the US.

Thirdly, the top three comparative regions were Continental Europe, UK and US in 1990,

1991, and 1992. However, in 2006, Continental Europe, Asia and Anglo-Saxon (exclude

USA and UK) ranked the first three positions. The figure implies that Continental Europe

did not change a lot during these years, which may be explained by its relatively uniform

and stable HRM-related legal systems. It also indicates that Continental Europe is always

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

to be compared with other countries by the authors. The significantly increasing number

of articles comparing Asian countries with other countries in the field of HRM from the

early 1990s to 2006 may be partly interpreted by the increasing importance of HRM in

the process of development of globalization and the growth of multinational corporations

(MNCs) and international joint ventures (IJVs) in Asian countries. In view of the cultural

differences and diversified legal systems among different countries, it is worthwhile and

valuable for authors to carry out researches on comparison of HRM in Asian counties and

other countries. In addition, it may be easier for researches on comparison of HRM in

Asian and other countries to be published in IJHRM for the reason of its uniqueness and

particularity. Nevertheless, the contradiction of decreasing researches on HRM of US and

widespread fact that HRM stems from US might be explained from the following

perspectives. On the one hand, US authors are less likely to conduct comparative work

and actually seldom carry out substantial research in the area of HRM. On the other hand,

the authors from other countries are not biased to compare US with other countries. That

is to say, the situation might be attributed to the little attention paid by non-US authors on

HRM of US and less effort made by the US authors on HRM research. Furthermore, as

HRM origins in US and develops in UK, authors might be much more influenced by the

HRM of the US and UK and hence more likely to compare other countries with these two

countries in the early 1990s. However, in 2006, it was more reasonable and valuable to

compare other similar countries or the different situations at present and ten year ago of

same countries rather than comparing them with the US and UK. That may be the reason

why the UK and US are less compared to other countries by authors nowadays. From the

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

table, it is evident that more comparisons of HRM among the rest of world were carried

out in recent years, which implies that HRM is becoming more international and universal

than before.

Fourthly, although the research on non-managers decreased, “non-managers” still remains

as the main object of the researches both in 1990, 1991 and 1992 and in 2006. This may

be explained by the Harvard model of HRM (Beer et al, 1985), which suggests that firms

should adopt a stakeholder approach and implies that research should focus on employees

as well as management interests. However, in 2006, some articles started to focus on

managers, rising from 18.87% to 26.42%, which may be academically interpreted by the

Fordist-IR model/ HRM Model (Storey, 2001). “Critical role of managers” is one major

part of this model which emphasizes the management of managers themselves, focusing

on line managers who play an important role in delivering human resource policies and

practices. Furthermore, the increasing global business highly requires managers to deal

with complex issues so as to gain and sustain organization’s competitive advantage both

at home and abroad. Therefore, organizations are tended to recognize the importance of

the role of managers as well as HRM practices in the international business. In addition,

in 2006, there are a few articles focusing on both managers and non-managers that

seldom covered by the articles in the early 1990s.

Finally, it is evident to find that “employee relations” was the primary topic to be

addressed both in 1990, 1991 and 1992 and in 2006. The figure indicates that the

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

percentage of “employee relations” declined slightly (from 33.90% in the early 1990s to

31.34% in 2006), nevertheless, it still remains as an important part of HRM (Marchington

and Wilkinson, 2005). Another important topic of HRM-“recruitment and selection” rose

from 3.39% in the early 1990s to 11.94% in 2006, which may be explained with the

increasing recognition of HRM practice and higher requirements on HRM practices of

globalization. Recruitment and selection, as the first step of HRM practice in the

matching model (Fombrun et al, 1984), is becoming more important than before, which

wields a remarkable impact on organizational success. However, “training and

development” and “rewards” were still highlighted in 2006, which can be seen from the

little fluctuation of data. The reason behind the phenomenon may be that training and

development are still closely related to the business performance and rewards are critical

to talents retention in the 21st century. In addition, with the increasing globalization and

growth of MNCs, some other topics related to HRM were much more mentioned in 2006

and some general HRM topics diminished gradually. In order to explore the changes in

the field of HRM, it is both necessary and important to discuss the above general

tendency of these six topics of HRM and also to analyze the detailed changes and relevant

factors in each area.

5.2 Content of topics

5.2.1 Employee Relations

Much work was focused on union in 1990, 1991 and 1992, which may be explained by

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

the increasing attention on the phenomenon of declining umber of union in most countries

since the 1980s (Towers, 1997). Authors were increasingly interested in the development

of union and conducted researches in terms of the reasons and trend in the future

(Beaumont and Harris, 1992). There were three main reasons for decrease of

union—removal of legal and political supports, shift from manufacturing industry to

service industry and development of part-time job (Patmore, 1992). However, in 2006,

there were fewer articles focusing on the issue of union only. Authors tended to cover

other issues of employee relations in relation to union, such as workplace democracy,

flexible employment strategy or the international employee relation policy of MNC. This

may be interpreted and predicted that authors will tend to emphasize on other issues

rather than the union issue only in view of the decreasing number of union and people’s

less interest in becoming a union member in the future.

Although studies on the issue of integration of employee relations with corporate strategy

were conducted both in the early 1990s and in 2006, the then perspectives and situations

under which the studies carried out were different. In 1990, 1991, and 1992, corporate

strategy was closely related to employee management of various departments and

development direction of company. However, in 2006, corporate strategy focused on the

competitive strategy in various aspects, such as motivating employees to achieve better

performance, integrating employee relations policy with corporate strategy and obtaining

and maintaining corporate competitive advantages (Porter, 2004). As a result of gradual

internationalization and globalization, fiercer market competition, corporate strategy

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

highlighting internal management of company in the early 1990s was shifted to

competitive strategy taking into consideration of both the internal and external

environments in 2006. According to Boswell (2006), HRM is regarded as a new way to

obtain competitive advantage. Hence, as the key part of HRM, employee relation policy

plays an essential role in corporate strategy. The better integration of employee relations

policy and corporate strategy, the more benefits and greater competitive advantage

companies achieve (Fox and Mcleay, 1992). However, the research on the role of

employee relations in corporate strategy is not consummate (Fulmer et al., 2003; Wright

and Boswell, 2002). There would be a great room for studying the issue of integrating

employee relations with corporate competitive strategy in the international market.

The issue of flexible employment strategy was discussed in articles both in the early

1990s and 2006. In the 1990, 1991 and 1992, it was quite popular for most of the

countries to adopt informal employment which mainly refers to non-standard form of

employment contracts, such as part-time job, temporary job or internship (Atkinson and

Meager, 1986a). For the reason that the informal employment can not only alleviate the

unemployment problem for the community but also cut the costs of overtime fees which

should be paid to permanent workers by the company (O’Reilly, 1992a). However, the

disadvantages of flexible employment strategy were highlighted in the articles in 2006

apart from its forms and advantages, which may be explained by the following reasons:

firstly, there are few regulations on the protection of employees’ rights under informal

employment contract in the prevailing legal system. Therefore, employees’ right cannot

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

be guaranteed without formal written contract between employers and employees. In

addition, it is difficult for informal employees to organize a union to protect their rights

(Cooke, 2006). Based on Cook’s (2005) statement, flexible employment strategy will

become more popular in most countries and the systems will be improved in the future.

Furthermore, the articles in 2006 addressed some new issues which were seldom

mentioned in the early 1990s, such as employee involvement, workplace friendship and

international employee relations in MNCs.

In 2006, “employee involvement” was one of the most popular issues addressed in

IJHRM. The employee involvement policy will motivate employees to perform better

(Zheng et al, 2006) so as to enhance their job satisfactions, decrease the absenteeism and

ultimately achieve the organizational objective. Moreover, recently, some regulations also

encourage the company to adopt the policy of employee involvement. For example, the

Amsterdam Treaty states that the employee representative should take part in company’s

daily management (Hardy and Adnett, 2006).

Moreover, the new term “workplace friendship” was introduced in 2006, which exerted

great impact on employees’ work effectiveness (Berman et al., 2002). It may not only

influence the relationship between manager and worker but also affect the

decision-making process (Boyd and Taylor, 1998). Indeed, workplace friendship plays an

important role in organizational performance.

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

In addition, in 2006, the issue of international employee relations in MNCs (Multinational

Corporation) was presented, which may be explained by the spread of globalization, the

expansion of organization, and the advancement of international human resource

management (IHRM). More often than not, subsidiaries of MNCs adopt new policies of

employee relations which may be different from the traditional system of employee

relations in local countries (Peltonen, 2006). There are two different ways to avoid the

above conflict—convergence and divergence (Bamber et al, 2004; Quantanilla and Ferner,

2003). Convergence indicates that two different systems of employee relations can be

integrated into one while divergence argues that this integration will not occur due to the

variations of environment and culture in different countries (Peltonen, 2006). However,

both two of them have pros and cons. There is a tendency to develop international

employee relations along with the overall trend of HRM (Ulrich, 1997).

5.2.2 Recruitment

In the early 1990s, internal labor markets (ILM) and expatriate selection were the popular

topics in the research on recruitment and selection. With regard to the issue of internal

labor market (ILM), authors generally focused on its influences and the consequences in

1990, 1991 and 1992 (Soetters and Schwan, 1990). The development of internal

recruitment is influenced by the intense external labor situation and organizational policy

providing the internal candidates with some privileges which can’t be enjoyed by external

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

applicants. In addition, the organizational characteristics and the level of unionization also

exert impacts on the ILM (Soetters and Schwan, 1990). However, some authors point out

that recruiting and selecting employees from the internal labor market may lead to

unfairness, inflexibility and discrimination. Others argue that it can not only make full use

of internal human resource of organizations, but also save time and money to train new

employees from external market. It is noticeable that ILM was highlighted by a lot of

authors in the early 1990s. Some of them also advocated the long-term internal

recruitment plan to retain employees so as to avoid frequent turnover and to reduce the

investments in training new employees recruited from external market (Pfeffer and Cohen,

1984). However, the issue of ILM was less highlighted in 2006 because of that the

number of union was continuously decreasing after the 1980s and ILM was regarded as

the result of unionization (Elbaum, 1983).

Moreover, the issue of expatriate selection was raised in 1990, 1991 and 1992, which may

be explained by the development of globalization, the expansion of MNCs and increase of

subsidiaries abroad. It was necessary for MNCs to dispatch expatriates to their

subsidiaries in other countries in the early 1990s (Gertsen, 1990). Hence, how to select

qualified expatriate is of vital importance for managers to deal with. In views of the

nature and particularity of expatriate positions, it was suggested to use multiple and

diversified selection methods which generally combine interviews, psychometric tests and

assessment center (Gertsen, 1990) rather than the traditional less effective and

over-simplified selection methods. Moreover, the family-related issues should be taken

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

into account in the process of expatriate selection (Tung, 1981), for example, people will

be less willing to take the position without family’s support. However, in 2006, there were

few articles dealing with the issue of expatriate selection. It may be interpreted that in

order to create the harmonious atmosphere and cut a series of costs in arrangement of

expatriate and their family, several MNCs tend to hire local people to manage subsidiaries

in their own countries instead of dispatching expatriate abroad.

In 2006, some new issues relating to recruitment and selection were discussed, such as the

importance of recruitment, relation-based regulation of recruitment and selection and

recruitment and selection in non-profit organization. In the early 1990s, the issue of

recruitment and selection was less discussed systematically and specifically in those

articles which generally covered other HRM issues as well, such as training, reward or

employee relations. However, in 2006, more authors paid attention to the issue of

recruitment and selection and their importance was particularly highlighted. It may be

explained that employees are regarded as the vital part of organizations determining

organizational success to a large extent. The recruitment and selection system can not

only help to find the qualified candidates but also determine whether the candidate suits

the given position well (Geerlings, 2006). Delaney and Huselid (1996) claimed that the

sophisticated or stringent system and policy of recruitment and selection will greatly

enhance the whole organizational performance. Hence, it is predicted that with the

intensification of world-wide competition, the importance of recruitment and selection

will be continuously emphasized in the future.

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Moreover, in 1990, 1991 and 1992, very few articles mentioned the issue of

relation-based regulation on recruitment and selection, which was probably influenced by

the cultural phenomenon. In the early 1990s, HRM practice—recruitment and selection

was widely recognized as rule-based activities in Western cultural context rather than the

relation-based practice in Confucius culture (Sue-Chan and Dasborough, 2006). However,

in the 21st century, with the increasing recognition of HRM practice in the

Confucian-based countries which have different cultural background from the Western

countries, relation-based regulation on recruitment and selection is becoming dominant.

As a representative country of Confucian-based country, China may exemplify the

phenomenon. With the increasing involvement of China in the international business and

the significant role of China in the global market, it is necessary to conduct researches on

not only the market conditions and policies in China (Confucian-based countries) but also

its cultural characteristics, such as Guanxi, which wields certain influence on HRM

practice—recruitment and selection decision (Sue-Chan and Dasborough, 2006). In

addition, it can be seen from the table that HRM issues in Asian countries (including

China) were the main contents of many articles published in the International Journal of

Human Resource Management in 2006. From the above mentioned, the recruitment and

selection in Confucian-based countries like China have gradually received the attention in

both the academic field and the international business. There is a tendency for the authors

to carry out researches on relation-based regulation on recruitment and selection rather

than rule-based activities alone.

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Furthermore, in the early 1990s, it seemed that few articles covered the issue of non-profit

organization policy on recruitment and selection. However, in 2006, with the

improvement of HRM practice and the development of non-profit organizations in the

world, workforce was regarded as an asset of a non-profit organization (Hall et al, 2003).

Therefore, how to recruit and select candidates for non-profit organizations is of vital

importance for company to consider. Due to the particular nature of non-profit

organizations, not only skills but also sense of responsibility of individuals should be

taken into consideration in the process of selection. Along with the development of

non-profit organizations, the issue of recruitment and selection may receive more

concerns in the future.

5.2.3 Training

In 1990, 1991 and 1992, the research works were centered on the importance of training

in HRM practice for the reason that training can enhance employees’ job-related skills

and abilities so that the organization performance can be improved. Sisson and Storey

(2000) stated that training continues to be a vital part of HRM not matter in which

industries. In 2006, the importance of training remained as the spotlight of many articles.

Moreover, some other specific topics were mentioned, such as training in developing

country like China. This may be explained that it is necessary for developing countries to

train their managers and workers to become more competent and efficient so as to

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

enhance the competitive strength of the whole industry (Warner, 1990). With the spread of

internationalization and the development of MNCs and IJVs (international joint ventures),

the future research tendency may pay more attention to not only training in the

developing countries, but also training across nations.

However, there are some issues addressed in 1990, 1991 and 1992 but were not

mentioned in 2006 in IJHRM, such as management development and expatriate training.

In early 1990s, nearly 30 percent of the articles discussed the issue of management

development, which may be explained from the perspectives of environment and

technology. On the one hand, in the early 1990s, there were few professional

requirements to recruit and select managers (Lansbury and Quince, 1989) who demand

for relevant training urgently. However, most organizations did not provide job-related

training to these non-professional managers. Therefore, management training was raised

from time to time in the early 1990s. In addition, managers seldom received formal

off-the-job training and improved themselves while working instead (Lansbury and

Quince, 1991). Hence, such problems as managing the effectiveness of organizational

performance came to emergence during that time. On the other hand, from the perspective

of technological development, it was both important and essential for organizations to

train not only employees but also managers to master new technology so that they can

keep pace with advanced scientific and technical era and finally obtain competitive edge

over rivals in the market (Landa, 1990; Purg, 1990). However, in 2006, few authors

focused on the issue of management development, which may be interpreted that the

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

situation has been improved since the early 1990s. For example, the universities in

Australia started to provide training-related business courses after the late 1980s (Ralph,


According to the research findings, the issue of expatriate training was raised in 1990,

1991 and 1992, which may be explained that more than 30 percent MNCs provided

intercultural training for expatriate to improve their intercultural competences and

enhance working performance during that time (Gertsen, 1990). Some people argue that it

is unnecessary to carry out expatriate training due to the time and financial constraints.

However, in view of the expansion of MNCs, the growth of subsidiaries, the development

of globalization and the difficulties of qualified expatriate selection, expatriate training

shall be taken into consideration as there are cultural, political and legal differences in

various countries. However, in the 21st century, there is a tendency of integrating

internationalization with localization in MNCs. Some MNCs tend to hire local managers

to be in charge of the operation of their local subsidiaries, such as McDonald’s, which

implies that dispatching expatriate to other countries is not necessary under certain

circumstance (Briscoe and Schuler, 2004). This may explain the less concerns in

expatriate training in 2006 to certain extent.

According to the articles released in 2006, the concept of job rotation was introduced,

which was regarded as a new type of training to improve employees’ skills and abilities

under different environments (Cheraskin and Campion, 1996). In order to improve the

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

organization’s competitive strength and take up more market share, it is of vital

importance for organizations to take advantage of limited internal resources (e.g. human

resource) so as to improve organizational competence and enhance working efficiency

and productivity (Jaturanonda et al., 2006). Nowadays, an increasing number of

international companies widely adopt job rotation program to train their employees. For

example, HSBC arranges the new graduate employees to work in different locations for a

period of time so as to train their skills under different cultures and work environments as

well. With the development of globalization and intensified competitiveness, how to train

employees and improve their capabilities by efficient using of human sources is of vital

importance for firms to deal with in the future.

5.2.4 Reward

It can be seen from the table that there is a tendency of increasing concern of reward

topics. Mamman (1990) stated reward plays an essential role in human resource

management in terms of motivating people to achieve high performance.

In 1990, 1991 and 1992, 10.17% journals covered reward topics, focusing on the issues of

payment systems, financial reward, individual wage, remuneration reward and “new pay”

policy. However, in 2006, 10.45% journals mentioned the reward issues, such as flexible

payment system, intrinsic reward “total reward” and performance-related pay.

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

In 1990, 1991, and 1992, with regard to the issue of pay systems, the authors found that

multiple pay systems are better and more effective than one common pay criterion. Also,

pay systems shall be closely connected with the organization’s profit maximization in

order to achieve great competitive advantage. In 2006, the author emphasized the flexible

pay systems, namely, “cafeteria systems”. Although pay systems are highlighted by

different authors both in 1990, 1991, and 1992 and in 2006, the then perspectives and

conditions were different. In 1990s, along with the emergence of “free-market

philosophy” and change of public policy, employers concern the fairness of pay which is

determined by employees’ education background, training and is linked with

organizational profit. Hence, “one size fits all” is no longer applicable to reward

assessment. However, in 2006, the “cafeteria system” concerned more about employees’

options and rights, which are closely linked with employee representatives and union

policy. According to Barringer and Milkovish (1998), it is of vital importance to develop

the model of “flexible benefit plans” in the future.

Reward systems cover economic, social and psychological issues (Akingbola, 2006).

Moreover, in 1990, 1991 and 1992, financial reward was introduced to enhance

employees’ incentives, which may be explained by the notion that people tend to work

harder with financial incentives, focusing on economic issue of reward at that time

(Bowey et al, 1986). However, in 2006, intrinsic reward was encouraged by various firms,

especially in nonprofit organizations. Social and psychological factors of reward are

regarded as the key factors for organizations to improve workforce retention and

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

motivation as well as achieve greater competitive advantage. The phenomenon may be

explained by social and economic development. The objective of people to work is not to

earn money alone but to realize their personal achievements, which can be illustrated by

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. From the above mentioned, there is tendency to attach

important to the intrinsic reward in nonprofit organizations (Barbeito and Bowman, 1998;

Brandel, 2001; Handy and Katz, 1998; McMullen and Schellenberg, 2003) in pursuit of

the paid leave, vacation and comparable benefits as stated by Barbieto and Bowman

(1998) and McMullen and Schellenberg (2003).

Moreover, the individual wage refers to time-based salary and wage premium was

introduced to fairly measure employees’ outcome and performance in 1991. However, in

1992, the “new pay” policy stated that both collective and individual reward is the

effective way of fostering employees’ motivation. There are three reasons for the changes

of pay strategies, such as national government’s policy, new course of industrial relations,

and enhancement of organization competitiveness in the international market. Although

the content of journals in 2006 didn’t mention the above issues, there is trend to

increasingly adopt performance-related pay on the basis of individual performance and

collective productivity (Ponzellini, 1992). For example, Lawler (2000) pointed out that

“New pay” is becoming an orthodoxy idea of reward.

It is evident to find that performance-related pay was the hotspot issue in 2006—it was

mentioned in one-third of the journals in 2006. With the speeding up of

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

internationalization and diversification of corporation mergers in the 21st century, an

increasing number of multinational companies, even foreign-related companies and small

firms are likely to adopt performance-related pay (Rowden, 2002; Zheng, et al, 2006).

That is to say the reward of employees are closely linked to their performance (Fey and

Bjorkman, 2001; Guest, 2002; Mendonca, 2002) and individual benefits are associated

with company performance.

Under the global business environment and intensified competition of international

market, how to retain talented employees and design and deliver effective global

rewarding programs are of vital importance for authors to study in the future. In 2006, the

new concepts of “total reward” and “payroll and benefits” were introduced based on the

perspective of internationalization, which may become a tendency for us to concern in the


5.2.5 Others

International Journal of HRM covers other topics and contents in relation to HRM from

various perspectives, which are difficult to divide into the above five main topics.

However, it is evident to find that certain changes occurred from the early 1990s to 2006,

implying an international tendency.

In 1990, 1991 and 1992, the issue of cultural differences among expatriates and local

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

managers was raised. Also, the psychological impact on expatriates plays an important

role in achieving a better harmony. With the development of international business and an

increasing number of joint ventures, cross-culture issues shall be taken into consideration

in human resource management. Cultural differences may exist in social, cultural,

political and economic aspects (Erez and Earley, 1993; Huang and Van de Vliert, 2003).

Understanding the relationship between different cultures and behavior wields a

significant influence on intercultural management process and leadership style of

expatriate. Cieri et al., (1991) stated that expatriation is a main characteristic of

international business.

However, in view of the growing internationalization and globalization as well as the

acceleration of integration of world economics, it is not only important for us to realize

the cross-culture issue that is deemed as “everyday life experiences” (Appadurai, 1996;

Benhabib, 2002; Urry, 2003) but also urgent to deal with it (Mills et al, 2001; Wilms et al,

1994). Hence, in 2006, the strategic approaches and model aimed at resolving the issues

of multi-faced cultural differences and emotional management were put forward, such as

cross-cultural training, selecting candidates who are free of or in less demand for

intercultural training, and “learning-by-doing” approach (Black and Mendenhall, 1990;

Brewster, 1995; Nicholson et al, 1990). Moreover, facing the acceleration of economics

and globalization, MNCs (multinational companies) may encounter the challenge of

multicultural problems—dispatching expatriates may not be an effective and successful

solution under such circumstance. Therefore, in 2006, inpatriate management was

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

introduced as a substitute in international business to replace traditional expatriates,

which can fulfill the social, cultural and communicational gaps (Reiche, 2006). In

addition, the notion of “staff option” was suggested as an effective way to reduce the

cultural friction and the transaction cost of MNCs by using local managers. All in all,

using the strategies of both inpatriation and expatriation and integrating

internationalization with localization may be the future tendency in the field of human

resource management (Tharenou and Harvey, 2006).

Furthermore, in 2006, some other new issues like career planning, employee turnover,

career success and structural adjustment were mentioned. It is proved that little attention

was paid to the above areas in the early 1990s. The reason behind the phenomenon may

be attributed to the dramatically growth of internationalization and globalization which

lead to the emergence of more issues and challenges in the 21st century.

5.2.6 HRM

There were a lot of journals mentioning the general topics of HRM in 1990, 1991 and

1992. However, there was a dramatic decline of the number of journals in 2006

concerning general HRM topics. This may be interpreted by the evolution of Europe in

the 1990s. In 1992, under the influence of the opening up of marketing in Europe, the

term of PM (personnel management) was replaced by HRM (human resource

management). Hence, HRM issues was raised and discussed in a lot of journals.

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Nonetheless, more authors and researchers tended to carry out researches on the specific

topics of HRM rather than the overall summary of HRM topics in 2006.

In 1990, 1991, and 1992, the general HRM topics covered the introduction of HRM

(origins, models, themes and issues of HRM); IHRM (international human resource

management); HRD (human resource development) and human resource strategy. This

can be interpreted by the following two main reasons. Firstly, in 1992, with the opening

up of marketing policy in European Community countries, an increasing number of HRM

topics sprung up (Begin, 1992; Boyer, 1988; Lane, 1989; Poole, 1986; Sorge and Warner,

1986). Personnel management was replaced by HRM for the reason that it is unlikely to

meet the requirements of ever-changing global tendency of HRM development rapidly

and adequately. Secondly, the intense international competition, technologic innovation as

well as economic and social changes force the company to adopt their HRM strategies to

the global competitive environment. Hence, there is a trend for HRM to become

international under the macro-environment of acceleration of international business,

development of economy and technology, process of internationalization.

However, general topics of HRM were seldom discussed in 2006. “HRM practice” was

frequently raised instead, presenting bundles of HRM practices and approaches in

domestic and foreign organizations. It may be explained from the perspectives of

employees, organizations and environment respectively. HRM practices wield significant

influences on employees’ performance and even on employee commitment and

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

motivation (Bowen and Lawer, 1992; Browning, 2006; Schneider and Bowen, 1993).

Facing both the external (socio-political situation, cultural perspective) and internal

(management behavior) factors, it is urgent for companies to develop global HRM

practice to survive in the international competition (Browning, 2006). With the increase

of merger and acquisition (M&A) activities around the world, the challenge of employee

management is a central HRM issue to be taken into consideration, changing the role of

HRM from personnel management to integrating employee management into corporate

strategies (Antila, 2006; Buono and Bowditch, 1998; Napier, 1989; Schuler and Jackson,

2001; Stahl et al., 2003). From the above mentioned, the development trend in the future

may aim to find the proper HRM approaches and practices in different nations, cultures

and organizations, paying attention to the micro and specific issues rather than macro and

general ones.

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

Chapter Six Conclusion

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

6.1 Conclusion

With the development of internationalization, the increasing number of MNCs and IJVs

across nations, HRM is becoming an important issue and challenge for organizations to

be taken into consideration, which exerts significant influence on organization’s

competitive advantage in the global environment. In order to explore the changes in the

field of HRM, this paper has presented brief theoretic HRM literature such as its history,

key models, and definitions, serving as the academic basis for this study to be built on. In

addition, it involves several controversies on the meaning and practice of HRM,

providing a relative comprehensive perspective of HRM. The introduction of main

changes in the major areas of HRM (recruitment and selection, training and development,

reward, employee relations) has also been highlighted, particular in the time-based

changes between the 1990s and the 21st century. Moreover, it is essential to study the

issues of international human resource management (IHRM), which indicates that IHRM

is not only a necessity in today’s international environment, but also a process of

continuous development involving several issues such as culture shock. Furthermore,

according to the research questions, reviewing the previous industrial relations research

patterns is seemed as a scientific basis for the methodology and results of this


Based on the academic literature review on HRM issues, it is evident to find that there

exist certain changes and debates in the field of HRM. Then, what are the main changes

in the field of HRM, how and why it has been changed and does HRM become

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

internationalized are a series of issues to be discussed and analyzed. With regard to the

issue of main changes in the field of HRM, it is concluded from two main

aspects—research patterns of HRM and key areas of HRM, revealing that HRM has

changed not only in the academic field but also in the practical situation.

As for the research patterns which include nature and content of article, the evidences of

the findings indicate that eight variables have been changed based on the thorough

comparison of variables in the early 1990s and 2006. To be specific, there is a tendency to

adopt both theoretical and empirical research methods. This indicates that the ongoing

international activities such as joint publications written by authors from different nations

wield significant influences on scientific research methods. Also, it is revealed that HRM

has translated itself into a strong international research environment, which is of evidence

from the findings that more authors from Asia, Anglo-Saxon (exclude UK) institutions

carry out studies in HRM; more articles cover the researches specifically in Asia,

Continental Europe and rest of world and comparatively between Asia, Anglo-Saxon

(exclude UK and US) and rest of world. In fact, although HRM stems from US and grows

in UK, the researches of HRM are no longer primarily in the UK and US, other nations

started to carry out researches on it as well, leading HRM issue to become an

international subject. Moreover, because of everlasting internationalization and

computerization of social science in the 21st century, it is more convenient for authors to

employ survey based quantitative work (questionnaire) from remote locations.

Furthermore, despite the key contents of HRM articles focused on studies of

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

non-managers both in the early 1990s and 2006, authors gradually started to focus on

managers and both managers and non-managers in 2006, which may be explained from

the review of Harvard model of HRM, HRM normative model.

With regard to key areas of HRM, the findings of this study on the changes of HRM in

the main areas (employee relations, training and development, recruitment and selection,

reward) are mostly consistent with the literatures. In terms of “employee relations” (ER)

issue, the research findings show that less work was focused on “union” in 2006, which

support the literature indicating that there is a continuous decline of union due to the

changes of industrial relation regulation and development of industry. Also, the findings

on the increasing focused issues—“employee involvement” (EI) and the advantages and

disadvantages of “flexible employment strategy” are almost completely consistent with

the literature. Notwithstanding that the practical findings of integration of employee

relations, whose research perspectives are different from that of literature review, reveal

that organizations shift from internal corporate strategy to competitive strategy internally

and externally, it is of vital importance to integrate employee relations into business

strategy (Pfeffer, 1995; Storey, 1992; Guest and Peccei, 1994).

After a comparison of “recruitment and selection” term between the early 1990s and 2006,

the findings can be summarized that in the 21st century, the internal labor market (ILM) is

gradually replaced by external recruitment in view of its drawbacks mentioned in the

literature. Moreover, expatriate selection was less highlighted in 2006, which partly

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

undermines the content of international human resource management in the previous

literature. The multiple recruitment and selection methods were highlighted, which are

mostly listed as the selection approaches in literature—without such methods as interview,

E-recruitment being mentioned in literature. On the contrary, the issues of recruitment and

selection in non-profit organizations and relation-based regulation on recruitment and

selection being discussed in the 21st century were not embedded in the literature. The

findings also indicated that recruitment and selection (as key aspects of HRM practices)

were potentially open to change and scholars may consistently carry out HRM researches

from their specific perspectives shaped by cultural and historical intentions.

In terms of “training and development” issue, it is surprise to find that the findings of

research regarding management development contradict with the previous literature,

which indicates that less work was focused on management training in 2006. The reason

for this contradiction may be explained that in accordance with the research findings,

most of the sample articles covered the training issues in developing countries like China

in 2006, the research objectives are different from that of the literature which focus on

researches mostly on developed countries. Moreover, the sample journal is a broad

international journal, the researches on training and development issue may be published

in some specific journals like International Journal of Educational Management. It may

also be attributed to the lack of evidence regarding the changes in E-learning based on the

findings embedded in the literature. However, with regard to the barriers of training in the

literature, the findings reveal the relevant solution (e.g. job rotation) has received certain

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

attention in the 21st century.

According to the findings of “reward” issue, it is concluded that there is a shift to

cafeteria systems in 2006 being influenced by the “free-market philosophy” in the early

1990s, which is consistent with the literature. Moreover, the research findings in 2006

tend to concern performance-related pay, payroll and benefits, and the total reward are

also in line with the literature. In addition, it is of evidence to see that the changes of

general HRM topic reveal the future tendency of IHRM—increasing internationalization

along with the acceleration of international business, development of economy and


To sum up, it seems that in most of the aspects, the empirical research findings are

consistent with the literatures. However, there exist certain inconsistency in the field of

training and development, which may be explained from the different research

perspectives and situations between the practical researches and previous literatures. As

Gamble (2003) stated that different countries have different politics, culture, and

education systems. All in all, the findings of this dissertation are valuable and meaningful

for both managerial development and academic research by examining the changing

fields of HRM during the early 1990s and 2006 and implying the future tendency of

HRM toward internationalization.

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

6.2 Limitations

Although the research sheds lights on the changes in the field of HRM, some limitations

must be acknowledged. Firstly, because of the time constrain, the data is collected from a

relatively small number of articles in the International Journal of Human Resource

Management (IJHRM). As merely 106 articles are studied in this research, the findings

are confined to the limited sample and data are also restricted. In addition, there may be

certain subjective biases in explaining the research results to some extent. Moreover, there

are some limitations of research scope of this study, which is only based on one journal

rather than comparing different ones.

6.3 Recommendations

Building on what has been done in this research and acknowledging the limitations of the

study, the recommendations are highlighted for future research as follows. As to small

sample size, it is recommended to carry out researches on wider sample and on other

journals to explore the changes in the field of HRM from other perspectives and to prove

“internationalization” based on different findings. Also, it would be worth checking the

changes of HRM by broadening the sample for future generalization because IJHRM may

not represent all the journals in the field of HRM. Furthermore, it would be better to

conduct different measures, more variables and more detailed areas of HRM to analyze

the findings critically and to enhance the validity and reliability of research. Also, it is

suggested to compare different HRM journals like Frege’s (2005) study and to go through

Exploring the changes in the field of HRM

other aspects of HRM so as to gain in-depth understanding of the changes in the field of


Exploring the changes in the field of HRM


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