HRPS 1998-1999 Research Agenda: Development of Competitive Advantage through People

By Niehaus, Richard J.; Overholt, Miles D. | Human Resource Planning, March 1998 | Go to article overview
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HRPS 1998-1999 Research Agenda: Development of Competitive Advantage through People


Niehaus, Richard J., Overholt, Miles D., Human Resource Planning


This is a summary of the HRPS research agenda developed by the Research Committee and reviewed by the Board of Directors. Overall development of the agenda was initiated at a special meeting of the Research Committee under the direction of Karl Price. The results of that meeting were summarized in a questionnaire which was sent to Board Members, Research Sponsors, and Corporate Sponsors. There was a response rate of 30% from the 191 questionnaires that were sent out. Consensus was reached that the main HRPS topic would be: "Development of Competitive Advantage Through People."

Major Issues

The research committee meeting started with a brainstorming session on the major issues impacting organizations in the next five years. The committee then focused on HR issues such as the new employee contract "deal," then broadened to all the issues related to personnel retention and of the current emphasis for individuals being responsible for their own careers. Among the issues discussed were:

* Retention of staff in light of flight of talent in tight labor markets

* Hiring/development of intellectual capital

* Resurgence of the development of career structures

* Age differences in perception/attitude/behavior

* Assimilation into leadership positions

* Executive education, management education, employee development

* Acquisition integration

* Measurement of the impact of human resources

* Impact of information and network-centric technologies on the individual employee and the organization

* Development of current workforce projections out to 2020

* How did we understand and use revised workforce 2020 projections

* Diversity, including Glass Ceiling issues in the near term (Year 2000-2005)

* Total compensation in terms of strategic to impact behavior, and front-loaded compensation to attract new workers

* Integration of issues to facilitate strategy development

* Where and how teams fit in swing situations and in network-centric organizations

* How contract ("deal") is defined and felt

The discussion then broadened to the issues related to what are current and future HR responses/foci related to the projected workforce changes. Among the responses to these developments is the need to develop programs and organizational strategies concerning:

* Leadership development

* Change management

* HR strategies/systems

* Culture transformation and

* Global HR

Research Model

After an in-depth review of each of the issues and projected responses, a model to guide the HRPS research effort was developed. This model was also related to research categories developed by the HRPS State-of-the-Art and Practice (SOTA/P) task group. This model is shown in Exhibits 1 and 2.

Exhibit 1 identifies the business drivers and the subsequent key issues challenging human resource professionals. The three business drivers are: (1) developing human capital; (2) building strategic business flexibility; and (3) managing the new employment contract will continue to drive major changes in the way organizations operate. To successfully meet the challenges created by the business drivers, executives and HR professionals will need to make a paradigm shift to working through people, to viewing organizations as living, natural organisms whose basic building blocks are people. Within this new paradigm, HR practitioners need to focus on five key issues, identified in the HRPS SOTA annual report (marked with asterisks) that are generated by the sweeping shifts. How well HR professionals manage these five (1) Leadership Development, (2) HR Strategic Systems, (3) Change Management, (4) Global Technology, and (5) Organizational Culture - will be the key to their organization's and function's Success.

Exhibit 2 illustrates specific strategic HR operational issues (how to develop leaders, how will HR change, short-sightedness versus labor market, etc.

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