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THE WIDENING GAP BETWEEN THE SCIENCE AND PRACTICE OF HRM (OR WHY HRM IS ALL OB) Robert L. Dipboye Rice University March 7, 2003.

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Presentation on theme: "THE WIDENING GAP BETWEEN THE SCIENCE AND PRACTICE OF HRM (OR WHY HRM IS ALL OB) Robert L. Dipboye Rice University March 7, 2003."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE WIDENING GAP BETWEEN THE SCIENCE AND PRACTICE OF HRM (OR WHY HRM IS ALL OB) Robert L. Dipboye Rice University March 7, 2003

2 Overview n Scientific HRM has value. n The gap between the practice and science of HR is wide and getting wider. n Underlying this gap is a difference between the analytical and intuitive modes of thought.

3 3 n To narrow the gap HRM should –Incorporate the organizational context into theory, research, and practice. –Make greater use of quasi- rationality as a compromise between the analytical and intuitive.

4 Scientific Approach to HRM n Analyze the job to determine the required KSAOs and the criteria for measuring performance. n Choose program on basis of past scientific research and anticipated costs and benefits. n Implement program in standardized manner. n Scientifically evaluate program.

5 Scientific Staffing n Conduct a job analysis to determine required KSAOs n Choose measures of the KSAOs on basis of past research n Validate the predictors and assess utility n Retain predictors that have + utility

6 Scientific Training n Training is most effective when it is based on a careful needs assessment, is implemented through "precisely controlled learning experiences designed to achieve instructional objectives," and is evaluated against performance criteria (Goldstein, 1991, p. 514).

7 Scientific Performance Appraisal n The goal is to construct measures that allow accurate and reliable measurement of differences among employees on their performance of important dimensions of the job.

8 The Good News: Scientific HRM Works! n A scientific approach can increase the accuracy, reliability, and validity of judgments by reducing cognitive biases and allowing decision makers to learn from experience. n HRM programs based on a scientific approach have economic benefits.

9 Products of Scientific HRM Validity generalization models n n A host of tests and measures – –ability tests, – –structured interviews, – –scored biographical data, – –assessment centers, – –job analysis techniques..

10 Products of Scientific HRM (cont) n n Behaviorally based measures. n n Training systems and techniques. n n Reward systems. n n Goal setting theory and programs. n n Utility analysis.

11 Despite the Good News, A Gap Exists Between Scientific HRM and Practice n Untested, faddish approaches continue to dominate HRM. n When adopted, scientific HRM is corrupted or fades away in implementation. n When scientific HRM is used, it is not institutionalized.

12 Staffing n The techniques and procedures that are well-supported in scientific research are underutilized. n When they are implemented, they are often misused or degrade over time. n The techniques and procedures that are used are too often chosen on the basis of marketing and are never validated.

13 Training n Training programs are chosen on basis of fads and fashions n Instructional methods are chosen for entertainment value n Evaluations of programs are based on personal liking for course and trainer

14 14 Performance Appraisal n Relatively few organizations use HRM research on appraisal in their appraisal methods. n Many questions remain unresolved –What’s the right format? –How do we reconcile employee development and evaluation? –How do we link appraisal to corporate policy?

15 15 The Gap Between Science and Practice Will Widen Due to Changes in n n Demographics n n Economics n n Legal and regulatory n n Technology n n Attitudes and values Kraut and Korman

16 Implications of Changes for HRM Practice n Approaches to HRM shown to work in one organizational or national culture may not work in other cultures. n HRM techniques and tools can quickly become outdated. n Scientific HRM may lose competitive advantage.

17 17 Underlying the Gap is a Conflict in Basic Modes of Thinking n Analytical thought is rule-based, controlled, effortful, slow, independent of context, asocial, and acquired through education. n Intuitive thought is associative, holistic, automatic, effortless, fast, highly contextualized, social, and acquired through experience.

18 Conceptual Foundations for Distinction n Hammond: analytic vs. intuitive n Fiske and Neuberg: piecemeal vs. categorical information processing n Stanovich: systems 1 and 2. n Levinson: interactional intelligence vs. analytic intelligence

19 19 n Science requires use of analytic modes of thinking. n Practice requires intuitive modes of thinking.

20 Scientific vs. Intuitive HRM n n Analysis of situation: analytical vs. holistic. n n Choice: “rational” vs. “gut feel.” n n Implementation: universalistic, vs. particularistic. n n Evaluation: scientific vs. intuitive.

21 The Primary Question n How do we deal with this widening gap between HRM science and practice?

22 The First Step is to Realize that HRM is All OB…. ….in theory and research. ….in practice.

23 The Theory and Research Are All OB in that We Need to……..

24 24 ….Study the Implementation of HRM in the Organizational Context n Organizational theory provides insights into HRM slippages –general systems theory. –institutional theory. –resource dependence theory. –structuration theory.

25 25 ….Use Multi-level Approaches to HRM One example (Ostroff & Bowen): – –the strength of the HRM system increases with visibility, clarity, acceptability, consistency and effectiveness of administration, internal consistency of HRM, and the intensity of the HRM system.

26 26 – –“Weak HRM systems create weak situations for employees..” – –“Here, individual level processes can have macro- level effects.…” – –When the HRM situation is strong, the opposite is likely

27 …. Identify the Boundaries to Scientific HRM n From Ouchi (1977) and Thompson (1967) one could propose that –Scientific HRM is most effective with complete knowledge of cause-effect relationships and a strong consensus on standards.

28 ….Recognize the Functions Served by Intuitive Approaches –satisfaction of practitioners –fairness –flexibility and speed –culture fit/identity –group/team orientation –acquiring and maintaining power

29 HRM Practice is All OB to the extent that n...HRM practitioners must become organizational change agents and deal with –readiness to change –resistance to change –use and adoption –institutionalization

30 30 An Inevitable Consequence …. Incorporating the organization in HRM theory, research, and practice makes us aware of paradox.

31 31 What is Paradox? –An event or phenomenon involving apparent contradictory, mutually exclusive elements that are both valid and operate simultaneously. –Fundamentally paradox is a mental construct.

32 Examples of Paradox n n Conscientiousness increases performance but discourages creativity and innovation. n n Intelligence leads to higher performance, but greater boredom and dissatisfaction.

33 33 n n Learning a task increases performance of that task but lessens the performance of other tasks. n n A specific goal leads to higher performance but leads to a neglect of other important goals.

34 34 n n Rewards for performance increases performance but decreases performance on tasks not rewarded.

35 35 “As we continue to operate in an era of rapid change, managers will have to become more skilled in managing paradoxes and competing demands….”Gareth Morgan

36 36 In the midst of the change and paradox that are inherent in organizations, there are dangers in conforming either to an analytical or intuitive approach.

37 Quasi-Rationality As An Alternative n Ken Hammond (Human Judgment and Social Policy, 1996) asserts that the tension between intuition and analysis in policymaking is inevitable. n Human cognition is a continuum in which intuition and analysis anchor each end.

38 38 n Human cognition oscillates and most often settles in the middle in the mode of quasi-rationality (commonsense).

39 n Experimentation and quasi- experimentation are the least feasible modes of inquiry but most powerful. n The most feasible mode of inquiry is intuition but this “is... the weakest means of solving problems”

40 40 n Effective policymaking requires a compromise between the extremes of intuition and rationality in the form of quasi- rationality (common-sense).

41 n “...common-sense will bring...inconsistency, conflict, and... error,...Yet,...quasi-rationality emerges as a valuable form of cognition because it tries to avoid the irresponsibility of intuition as well as the fragility of analysis” (Hammond,1996)

42 Conclusions n Scientific HRM has value –structured procedures for staffing, compensation, appraisal, and training work. –more organizations should make use of scientific HRM.

43 n Despite value, the gaps between scientific HRM and practice will continue to widen if... –the organizational and environmental forces working against analytical approaches are ignored.

44 44 n HRM is “all OB” to the extent that –HRM is embedded within and encompassed by the organizational context.

45 45 –A multi-level approach and an understanding of the functions served by intuitive HRM are needed to understand HRM successes and failures.

46 46 –Deviations from scientific HRM and failures in implementation make sense when these “other functions” are considered. –HRM practitioners must act as change agents.

47 47 n The more we incorporate the organization in theory, research, and practice, the more we encounter paradox and the limitations of the scientific approach.

48 48 n How do we deal with the widening gap between the science and practice of HRM?

49 n HRM scholars and practitioners should strive for creative integration that comes in the form of quasirational solutions informed by both science and intuition.


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