Theories and Practice of Human Resource Management

Theories and Practice of Human Resource Management

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Assignment title

What does it mean for HRM to be considered “effective”? How would you measure your interpretation of HRM effectiveness? Illustrate your answer with reference to an organisation with which you are familiar

Learning outcomes
This assignment forms 50% of the final grade on this module and addresses the following learning outcomes:

Knowledge and Understanding
1 Understand essential theories, models and practices of human resource management, and of their relevance and appropriateness in developing organisational policies, procedures and practices.

Cognitive and analytical skills
2 Analyse and critique the relationships between people and employment in contemporary society, and how human resource discourse and practice affects and constructs these relationships.

Key/Transferable Skills
3 Skills in the critical analysis and evaluation of contemporary human resource management structures and practices.


Assignment content
Your assignment should address the following issues:

1. A title.
2. An introduction outlining what your essay will say, including what organisation you will use as the example and what you will conclude.
3. Informed discussion of different interpretations of effectiveness leading to a clear statement of how you are interpreting effectiveness, supported by appropriate literature.
4. Application of the chosen interpretation of effectiveness to the chosen organisation.
5. Critical comparison of your proposal for establishing HR effectiveness with current approaches used within the organisation.
6. Where appropriate, make recommendations for how the organisation should adapt in light of this analysis.
7. Include reference to appropriate academic literature.
8. Include a complete and accurate reference list, using the Harvard referencing system.
Support for the assignment
In support of this assignment we advise you to read:

Gibb, S (2000) Evaluating HRM effectiveness: the stereotype connection. Employee Relations, 22, 1; 58-71

Paauwe, J. & Boon, C. (2009) Strategic HRM: A Critical Review. In D. G. Collings & G Wood (Eds) Human Resource Management: A Critical Approach, Routledge, Abingdon, pp38-54.

Links to these sources are provided in the Blackboard™ site under “readings”. The entire Collings & Wood book is available as an e-book and is well worth reading, but as a minimum you should read the Paauwe & Boon chapter referenced above.

Both topics 1 and 2 are relevant to this assignment. Therefore we would expect you to have looked at the key chapters listed on the lecture slides.

These sources are suggested as starting points. We expect you to do much more exploration both of the company you are choosing to look at and of the literature relating HR to performance.

If you are not sure what Harvard Referencing System looks like, please see the library, your lecturer or the supporting material on Blackboard™.

The tutorials in weeks 3 and 4, will introduce the assignment. In weeks 5 and 6 the tutorials will be used to help you develop your ideas and analysis. You can also make appointments to discuss your work with the course team using the usual booking systems (WASS or email).

General Guidance
We would like you to use an organisation that you actually know and if possible interact with directly. Please do not rely on published case studies or cases you have been given in other modules. Google, Apple, and Virgin have been written about so much that we would prefer you to look at examples with which you are more personally familiar.

Therefore, think about organisations you come directly into contact with. This could be somewhere you, or someone you know works, somewhere your family runs, a group or society of which you are a member, your school or even this university. It does not have to be based in or even operate in the UK. It does not have to be famous, but you need to know it well enough to write on an informed basis of the way it operates.

You could incorporate some primary research in your essay, asking existing employees or organisation members, (who may or may not be HR professionals) what they think about the environment in which their organisation operates and how this impacts on the HR systems and practices within it.

Clearly voluntary organisations will face different pressures from commercial businesses. Service organisations will face different challenges from manufacturing and so on. It is your ability to identify and interpret these contextual factors to explain how they impact on managing people within the organisation on which you are focussing.

Whatever approach you take to the question, we will expect you to provide relevant evidence to inform your answer. Simply saying that the market for this particular product is competitive is insufficient, provide evidence of that – how it has changed, where the competition comes from, and most significantly how this affects the (HR) management options of the organisation you are looking at. Are they seeking to develop inimitable human resources or to compete on the basis of low cost, and how would this affect the HR strategy?

We expect you to make links between theoretical ideas (appropriately supported by credible research evidence) and the practical options that HR specialists, or those individuals with responsibility for managing people in the organisation, have or should take.

The mark awarded will depend on the quality of your research, the strength of your analysis and the extent to which you provide a clear and succinct response to the task we have set.

We expect that each student’s essay will be unique; there is no single “right answer” to this question. We want you to explore it for yourself and generate your own understanding of the area.

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