The Banking Industry in the US: Human Resource Role

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The banking industry in the United States is encountering some enormous challenges in retaining its competitiveness internationally. This research project seeks to determine the way in which human resource activities could successfully foster the possibility of augmenting diverse workforce to receive positive results for employees and the institution at large. In this regard, the paper assesses the institutional approach to a positive diversity climate and the capacity to control knowledge sharing and motivation of workforce. A qualitative analysis method involved detailed interviews with professionals of the subject matter in the banking sector.

The interviewees were drawn from the Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Chase & Company, Wells Fargo & Company, and Goldman Sachs Group respectively to support the research project and record the original notion within the reach of this research paper. The data obtained from the interviews was analysed to determine the kind of diversity climate and its relation to knowledge transfer in enabling success of organisations. The findings showed that a constructive diversity climate translates to better sharing of knowledge that consequently brings about effective profession results. Recommendations in management and workforce are proposed at the end of this research paper.

Background And Relevance Of The Research Project

Human resource activities are the functions carried out by the human resource management in the administration of labour force and human resources in an organisation. Human resource activities in an organisation seek to recruit, assess, train, and award the well performing workers as well as administering managerial culture and leadership in fulfilment of profession and labour laws. In organisations where the workforce desires are under lawful authorisation to embrace a joint bargaining concurrence, human resource activities ensure crucial liaison with the workers’ representatives (Bowen, & Ostroff, 2004, pp. 203-221). The United States is contemporarily facing the challenge of human resource activities to connect the prosperity of many races with the intention of enhancing productivity and promote competitive advantage internationally. The coordination of democracy cannot be restricted to the political phase.

For the continued existence of democracy, it has to arise and work in every social and financial organisation including the place of work (Mclnemey, 2002, pp. 1009-1018). In this regard, human resource activities have been targeted to generating job opportunities, making the afflicted powerful and eradicating discrimination at the place of work. These roles coupled with the rising tendencies of internationalisation illustrate that the banking sector and other organisations in the United States encounter enormous challenges of transforming themselves to become a sign of post-slavery and simultaneously retain competitiveness around the globe. This research paper will discuss how human resource activities in the banking sector of the United States could work to ensure success of organisations despite the existence of diversity. A qualitative interview with nine respondents from five banks in the US will form the methodology.

Need of the project

Within the context of the United States, the successful management of workforce through human resource activities comes with inherent limitations. The new working reality comprises of a diverse labour force particularly with respect to ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds. Since there is a realistic support to affirm that labour force with diversity attains higher profitability than its homogeneous equivalents, institutions ought to promote a broad view to upholding diversity. According to Beamish (2003, p. 626), the remnants of slavery are still apparent via their descendants in the manner that individuals of diverse races live fundamentally separate lives. Ebiringa (2011, pp. 17-26) affirms that currently, human resource management aim at incorporating new employees into the ordinary business, with the advancement of the expertise of lower-level workers as a main concern, to allow the broad spectrum of diverse groups work together in an interconnected and productive way. In this regard, knowledge transfer is vital to linking expertise gap that would otherwise exist within a diverse labour force. Particularly, through human resource activities, the recruitment and retention of a workforce and the continuous progression of advancing expertise of employees are key primary considerations that call for research.

Intended population

The intended population for this research paper is the banking industry in the US. The banking sector is relatively rigorous in terms of market share coupled with boasting of an immense number of employees and clients. The exceedingly competitive setting is intensified by the incorporation of foreign banking institutions. The old manner of carrying out businesses might not be successful nowadays and therefore new business patterns via human resource activities require developing to guarantee a competitive advantage.


  • To find out the significance and interrelations of knowledge sharing, a positive attitude of workers to their profession, and the attainment of institutional goals
  • To determine the need of human resource activities in bringing about success in organisations

Literature Review

Human Resource Management (HRM) covers fundamental aspects of vital concern in organisations like organisational theory, individual performance, organisational and social psychology, industrial affairs, and sociology (Lepak, & Snell, 2002, pp. 517-543). Up to now, there is no commonly suitable description for HRM and its involvements in the every day business world. Various scholars identify HRM as a supervisory personnel accountability that mostly deals with administration activities. Scholars categorise HRM as an administration philosophy that entails treatment of the workforce. In addition, other scholars recognise human resource activities as relations management involving an organisation and its people.

Contemporary Organisation

Human resource activities are fundamentally essential in contemporary organisations since they stimulate high-performance using workforce by boosting workers’ levels of client service, efficiency, development, profits, and excellence. Fontaine and Lesser (2002, pp. 53-65) delineate separate interrelated actions, functions, progressions, and other features that are meant to drawing, retaining, and developing the human resource activities in organisations. Such human resource activities comprise planning, enrolment and selection, management of performance, training, rewards, compensation, and career advancement.

As a human resource activity, planning was originally a significant characteristic of employment investigation and was frequently exercised as foundation for determining strong points and weak points amid the workforce coupled with building up the expertise and proficiencies required by workers (Lawler, & Mohrman, 2003, pp. 15-29). As individual professional achievements began achieving more reputation, organisations gradually started having greater consideration to particular expertise and competencies amid workers with the aim of aligning and tackling progression planning of the organisations. Hempel (2004, pp. 163-177) argues that human resource activities in planning are very vital roles in all contemporary organisations today.

The process of enrolment in any organisation seeks and draws the most proficient and appropriate candidate for an available position. Recruitment policies have three divisions: appropriateness- the most eligible candidate for the vacancy, malleability- formed within the specific norms, and elasticity – the most dependable and flexible worker. The aforementioned aspects are very obscuring and could simply be mistaken all through the process of recruiting workforce. Human resource activities should thus recruit employees with the best talents to enable organisations have competitive advantage in the market. Formal training through human resource activities is one of the potentials for organisations to improve the workforce performance (Lawler, 2005, pp. 165-169).

The idea of gauging performance or administering performance in organisations is to systematise how organisations could attain maximum profits from their human resources (Lepak, Bartol, & Erhardt, 2005, pp. 139-159). The move toward gauging performance can be grouped as a three-stride approach comprised of goals, assessment, and response. The first stride is the laying down of performance goals that are practical, simple to assess, and easy to communicate throughout the organisation after which the practice of performance assessment should happen. In as much as human resource activities aim at realising good outcome in management of performance, their effect could as well have a remarkable influence on the previously mentioned outcomes.

Eliciting high involvements in an organisational setting is highly crucial for the organisation and the workforce as well. For example, features of expected rewards are elucidated in line with motivations of the workforce. The notions of rewards are greatly valued through human resource activities not only for the apparent fact that human resources yearn more concerning promotional chances, better pay, or higher benefits, but also for their aspirations and for distress that revolves from independence, personal development, and valued accountability. This idea could enable organisations have greater benefits with respect to maintaining or recruiting first-class talents (Reddington, Williamson, & Withers, 2005, pp. 45-63).

According to Amstrong (2005, pp. 195-199) compensation is very important for modern organisations as it contributes to attraction and retention of high skilled employees and promotes a required stakeholder conduct concerning appreciation and legitimacy. Compensation could improve enthusiasm amid human resources too. Although non-monetary compensation can actually function as a positive incentive for the employees, providing financial benefits is essential to boost the output of the human resources at personal or group level. Numerous researches in the field of human resource activities have maintained that the greatest crucial factor of human resource development is career advancement (Wall, Michie, Patterson, Wood, Sheehan, Clegg, & West, 2004, pp. 95-118).

With a strong struggle in the 21st century, several organisations have recognised that for them to remain competitive, they have to develop their human resources and improve growth of the different professions needed in an organisation. Consequently, numerous organisations are currently taking practical steps towards endowing their workforce educationally and creating a climate, which supports all their employees at every stage of the organisation to be extra resultant and fruitful despite their diversity. The most widespread learning techniques in organisations are informal and formal (such as training and workshops) knowledge (Lepak, Maronne, & Takeuchi, 2004, pp. 639-655).

The significance of human resource activities

The main aim of human resource activities is to ensure that the human capital in an organisation is being utilised to the fullest capacity to generate the utmost organisational outcomes that meet the needs of the organisation. For that reason, the idea of empowering capabilities of workforce is coined from the notion that human resource activities are exceedingly essential for enhanced competitive advantage and organisational achievement (Hendrickson, 2003, pp. 381-394). Human resource activities in organisations are also important since they help managers and human resources via a change process. Organisations can achieve huge competitive advantages if their workforce is used efficiently in accordance with their skills and inventiveness to meet evidently defined goals.

If organisations employed the most efficient, skilled, dedicated, and flexible human resources coupled with administering and rewarding workers in accordance with their performances and effectiveness, then organisations would get huge productivity. If human resource activities were implemented tactfully, organisational objectives that rely on human resource practices for excellent performance would accomplish the highest business performance (Caldwell, 2003, pp. 983-1004). On the other hand, the field of Human Resource Management (HRM) has encountered segregation and misunderstanding of several researchers thereby failing to comprehend that, in exclusion of workforce, there would be no successful organisation (Gardner, Lepak, & Bartol, 2003, pp. 159-179). As employees continue to become the most costly and dependable thing in any organisation, human resource activities will remain a critical area of research (Cascio, 2005, pp. 159-163).


The aim of this research was to evaluate the association between atmosphere of diversity and the shift of shared information in a workplace because of human resource activities. In addition, this research paper will explore the influence of this association on individual profession results and the performance of organisation. This chapter will offer a detailed methodology of the research that will encompass depiction of the research population, sampling methods, and analysis of data. The banking sector in the United States supports about 90,000 branches that accounts for a huge number of employees. Given the sample size and the magnitude of this sector, quantitative method of data analysis would not be representative of the banking sector. Therefore, it was necessary to supplement the findings through qualitative interviews.


The population of interviews comprised professionals with human resource activities in the banking industry. The population was made of employees assigned the role of Human resource management in the five major banking institutions of the United States of America. The five major banking institutions in the US include the Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Chase & Company, Wells Fargo & Company, and Goldman Sachs Group. The interview questions used for this research are as follows:

Instructions: Kindly respond to each question

  1. What is vital for human resource management to ensure successful management of a diverse workforce? What measures are in place at your institution?
  2. Is creating a setting with workforce from different races and cultural backgrounds by human resource management necessary, or should there be less focus on this aspect and instead direct more focus on bettering performance of each individual?
  3. What role does human resource management play in fostering knowledge sharing in your institution?
  4. What is your point of view concerning implied feature of knowledge?
  5. What obstructs knowledge sharing? What causes a number of people cling to their knowledge?
  6. What allows effective knowledge sharing?
  7. Which instruments of knowledge sharing does human resource management at your institution presently use?
  8. What systems can be employed to better the state of knowledge sharing at your institution?
  9. Can the employees who learn from other employees experience improved exuberance?
  10. How is your institution progressing with regard to the attainment of the goals of Financial Sector Charter (FSC)?
  11. Which are the organisational benefits that could be obtained from knowledge sharing and workers having a positive feeling concerning their profession?


Judgment sampling was used to determine the banks that could reasonably represent the banking sector in the United States. Getting a sample from every one of the five selected banks was deemed adequate for the intentions of this research paper. As regards the sample size, two interviewees from each bank took part except for Goldman Sachs Group where one individual took part. In total, 19 people were approached and nine were interviewed in the due course.

Data collection

The sample gave primary data with the use of a semi-structured interview. Semi structured and open-ended questions played a key role in getting insights into human resource activities within the banking industry. The questions also helped in determining the influences of human resource activities on the motivation levels of employees and organisational benefits. With the open-ended responses, it was necessary to record the answers electronically. All the nine interviewees undertook a face-to-face interview that was suitable though time consuming. The face-to-face approach made it possible to inquire into the stage of needed details. The approach as well enabled more responsiveness of the interviewees than if it were done through phone calls.

Data analysis

The interviewees’ responses were evaluated to find out the existence of common patterns. Through frequency analysis, it was possible to establish if the views were generally contributed by the banking industry, or they represented isolated perspectives of a single person. Likeness and unlikeness in responses involving interviewees from the same bank and involving different banks were assessed.

Difficulties faced

The following were the difficulties encountered during the carry out of the project.

  • The semi-structured nature of the interview called for professionalism of the interviewer to make sure that the suitable information to the project was acquired.
  • The progression of interview was essentially subjective because of dependence on third party participants.
  • The collected data was loaded with value as regards the understanding and suppositions of the interviewer thereby creating room for biasness of the research.


Even if the participants were directed to act in response within the scope of the project, framing of the questions made them open-ended. The course of the interview was allowed to flow as naturally as possible and as pertains to this research, this approach was successful in decreasing biasness of the interviewer. The table below illustrates the institutions where the interviewees were drawn together with their corresponding designations.

Name of bank Number of people approached Interviewees Corresponding designation
Bank of America 6 2
  1. Member of Financial Sector Charter execution committee
  2. Human resource manager
Citigroup 6 2
  1. Knowledge management advisor
  2. Member of Financial Sector Charter committee
Morgan Chase & Company 3 2
  1. Human Resources Director
  2. Knowledge management advisor
Wells Fargo & Company 2 2
  1. Human resource manager
  2. Member of Financial Sector Charter execution committee
Goldman Sachs Group 2 1
  1. Human Resources Director
Total 19 9


The findings from all the nine interviewees within the banking sector in the United States reveal diversity atmosphere as a positive aspect. None of the interviewees encountered discrimination at the place of work and every interviewee felt confident concerning diversity. The interviewees revealed that human resource management, across all the banks, has been strengthening all endeavours to control individual conduct and the way in which workers interact with each other. This aspect is necessary as eventually it works to improve individual performance within an organisation. In all the banks, workers are compelled into treating everyone with respect through the incorporation of “living the principles” as an aspect of performance gauging system. All interviewees concurred that advancement was being carried out in this regard.

Knowledge sharing

All the nine interviewees felt comfortable with the idea of passing on their knowledge and expertise to their less experienced fellows. A general feeling was that human resource activities assisted in offering a favourable environment for knowledge sharing. From each of the nine interviewees, there was a powerful disagreement in the necessity of guarding ones knowledge for progression in profession. Guarding of knowledge obstructs knowledge sharing. Interviewees from the Bank of America, Citigroup, and Morgan Chase & Company affirmed that though knowledge sharing happens in these institutions, it is mostly initiated through informal networks rather that human resource activities. In this regard, there was a strong feeling by the interviewees that workers should expend more energy in constructing or strengthening existing networks to boost knowledge sharing.

Knowledge sharing plays a key role in creating enthusiasm in employees. Based on responses from the interviewees, it is true to say that a constructive climate of diversity mediates in propagating knowledge sharing in the US banking industry. Compliance to the human resource advancement support of the FSC is not directly associated with enthusiasm of employees and knowledge sharing. All the nine interviewees associated enthusiasm and knowledge sharing with institutions adjusting the setting of their workers via encouragement of a diverse work setting and boosting the representation of formerly underprivileged workers at senior ranks. Institutional goals of productivity are attained through knowledge sharing and workers having a positive attitude to their profession. All the respondents agreed that association between positive climate of diversity, knowledge sharing, and motivation of the workforce is vital for the success of any institution.


From this research paper, it is clear that human resource activities are fundamentally essential in contemporary organisations since they stimulate high-performance using workforce by boosting their levels of client service, efficiency, development, profits, and excellence (Ahmed, Lim, & Loh, 2002, pp. 67-78). Human resource activities include planning, enrolment and selection, management of performance, training, rewards, compensation, and career advancement. From the interviews that involved workers from the Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Chase & Company, Wells Fargo & Company, and Goldman Sachs Group, constructive diversity climate, knowledge sharing, and motivation of workforce played a key role in bringing success to these institutions. All these factors were considered in relation to one another.



In fostering positive diversity climate as an institutional working actuality, there should be indubitable dedication through human resource management activities. In this regard, human resource activities should model the conduct needed for effective workforce. Additionally, the current support given to ideas of knowledge management is not at its level best in the US banking sector. Human resource management should grant the resources required to construct a sturdy initiative of knowledge management, failure to which such activities will continue in their present status, viz. “well in place though not very significant”.


Organisations, through their respective management teams, offer the necessary tools to help employees better their work climate. Nevertheless, the cognitive and conduct change can only originate from employees. Therefore, employees should position themselves to the objectives of the institutions to achieve the needed profession results. For instance, with respect to sharing of knowledge, the workforce could be proactive in constructing or strengthening informal systems.

Reference List

Ahmed, P. K., Lim, K. K., & Loh, A. (2002). Learning through Knowledge Management. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Amstrong, G. (2005). Differentiation through people: How can HR move beyond business partner? Human Resource Management, 44(2), 195-199.

Beamish, W. P. (2003). International Management. Canada: University of Western Ontario.

Bowen, D. & Ostroff, C. (2004). Understanding HRM-firm performance linkages: The role of “strength” of the HRM system. Academy of Management Review, 29 (2), 203-221.

Caldwell, R. (2003). The changing roles of personnel managers: Old ambiguities, new uncertainties. Journal of Management Studies, 40 (4), 983-1004.

Cascio, W. (2005). From business partner to driving business success: The next step in the evolution of HR management. Human Resource Management, 44 (2), 159-163.

Ebiringa, O.T. (2011). Optimal business decision system for multinationals: a multifactor analysis of selected manufacturing firms. Serbian Journal of Management, 6 (1), 17-26.

Fontaine, M., & Lesser, E. (2002). Challenges in managing organisational knowledge. USA: IBM Corporation.

Gardner, S., Lepak, D., & Bartol, K. (2003). Virtual HR: The impact of information technology on the Human Resource professional. Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 63 (1), 159-179.

Hempel, P. (2004). Preparing the HR profession for technology and information work. Human Resource Management, 43 (3), 163-177.

Hendrickson, A. (2003). Human Resource Information systems: Backbone technology of contemporary Human Resources. Journal of Labour Research, 24 (3), 381-394.

Lawler, E. (2005). From Human Resource Management to organisational effectiveness. Human Resource Management, 44 (2), 165-169.

Lawler, E., & Mohrman, S. (2003). HR as a strategic partner: What does it take to make it happen? Human Resource Planning, 26 (3), 15-29.

Lepak, D., & Snell, S. (2002). Examining the Human Resource Architecture: The relationships among human capital, employment, and human resource configurations. Journal of Management, 28 (4), 517-543.

Lepak, D., Bartol, K., & Erhardt, N. (2005). A contingency framework for the delivery of HR practices. Human Resource Management Review, 15 (2), 139-159.

Lepak, D., Maronne, J., & Takeuchi, R. (2004). The relativity of HR systems: Conceptualising the impact of desired employee contributions and HR philosophy. International Journal of Technology Management, 27 (7), 639-655.

Mclnemey, C. (2002). Knowledge management and the dynamic nature of knowledge. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 53 (12), 1009-1018.

Reddington, M., Williamson, M., & Withers, M. (2005). Transforming HR; creating value through people. Oxford: Elsevier.

Wall, T., Michie, J., Patterson, M., Wood, S. J., Sheehan, M., Clegg, C. W., & West, M. (2004). On the validity of subjective measures of company performance. Personnel Psychology, 57 (1), 95-118.

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