Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

An Exploratory Study on the Malaysian Human Resource Professionals in the Manufacturing Sector

Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

An Exploratory Study on the Malaysian Human Resource Professionals in the Manufacturing Sector

Article excerpt

This study examines the competencies of Human Resource (HR) professionals in the manufacturing companies of Malaysia. The competencies that are examined are business knowledge, strategic contribution, HR delivery, personal credibility, HR technology and internal consultation. The sample employed here consists of HR professionals from Malaysian manufacturing companies in the southernmost state of Malaysia, Johor. The findings show that the top nine ranking HR competency factors are from the domain of personal credibility and HR delivery. The respondents' self-rated competencies show that personal communication, legal compliance, effective relationship and staffing rank above all other factors. The three factors that have strongest correlation with firms' performance are market driven connectivity, solution provider, and value chain knowledge. Furthermore, through difference of mean analysis, this study found that there is significant variation in all success factors (HR experience, education level, salary and firm size) relate to competency of business knowledge of the respondents in their organization.

Keywords: HR competencies, strategic contribution, business knowledge, success factors, internal consultation, personnel credibility.


Today's global economy provides challenges to the Human Resources (HR) function by creating an environment where firms must create and sustain competitive advantages. To function constructively and to play critical roles more effectively, HR professionals must master the necessary competencies. Furthermore, mastery of the above abilities comes from being able to apply the knowledge within specific business settings (Brockbank, Ulrich, and Beatty, 1999).

The HR profession is being asked to help businesses compete and to do so, HR must not only observe, but understand and adapt to the business trends (Ulrich et al., 2008).

Competencies refer to the knowledge, skills and behaviors demonstrated by individuals in the course of getting their work done. Competencies are used in many facets of human resource management, ranging from individual functions such as recruitment and performance management to organizational strategic planning and design of organizational structure and culture (Ulrich et al 2008). HR competencies are said to be a set of characteristics contributing to effective HR performance that enables an organization to carry out its business strategies in a competitive market. However, many HR executives are not invited to the strategic planning table because the core competency and orientation of most HR functions is still in traditional HR activities (Lawler et al., 2003). In fact, it is suggested that the competency level of the HR manager has an influence on whether he or she is able to get into the executive board chamber (Selmer and Chiu, 2004).

The purpose of this research is an attempt to understand better the success factors of the HR profession and what level of competencies do HR professionals possess in the context of Malaysia. HR professionals need to overcome many barriers in order to become strategic partners in the organization. Furthermore, studies by Lawler and Mohrman (2003) have confirmed that HR departments have played a major role in influencing business strategy only in cases where HR manager is a full strategic partner. They further suggest that HR executives who understand business strategies are more likely to develop HR processes and systems that are capable of supporting the implementation of those strategies. It is hoped that by making the findings of this study available to the business community, we will contribute to the development of a realistic picture of HR competencies among the manufacturing firms in Malaysia.

To address the above issues, three research questions have been asked: -

RQ 1) What factors in the HR competencies relate to firms' performance?

RQ 2) How HR profession's success factors link up with the level of HR competencies in the manufacturing sector of Malaysia? …

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