Introduction: The Human Resource Management Function and an Overview of the System for Testing and Evaluation of Potential (STEP)
Today's business enterprises have to cope with unparalleled internal and external pressure in a constantly changing environment to maintain profitability, or even to ensure survival. In their speculations on management development in the 21st century, Porter and McKibbin ( 1988, p. 43) state that "change has indeed become (perversely) a steady fixture on the landscape of the 20th-century life." For example, changes can be seen in such diverse areas as foreign competition, technological change and obsolescence, unpredictable markets, social values, women in the work force, government control of wages and employment practices, and increasing numbers of mergers. The realization by higher management that economic survival and success require a relevantly qualified work force capable of adapting to new conditions leads to planning for that work force. Stated more generally, the human resource management system must serve the overall objectives and mission of the organization and thus be linked to the strategic business planning process.
The importance of an integrated, cost effective, and professionally sound system for human resource planning and development has long been recognized. McGregor ( 1960, p. 3) states, "One of the major tasks of management is to organize human effort in service of the economic objectives of the organization." More recently, a panel of resource executives saw systematic resource planning and its incorporation in the broader, strategic plans of the organization as vital to determining whether or not the organization gains the competitive edge (Panel Discussion, 1985).
How then can a human resource system play a significant role in implementing such diverse objectives as staffing for rapid expansion, successfully liquidating a failing subsidiary, or for moving from a corporate