The Influence of Change on IHRM

Introduction

The process of globalization involves all areas of public life, including economy, politics, social sphere, culture, ecology, and safety. It is one of the most influential forces determining the future global development of HRM. The basic sphere of globalization is the international economic system, i.e. global manufacture, national economies, and the world market.

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The research is aimed to explore the influence of change on IHRM (international human resource management) policy and the role of cultural diversity in international organizations as well as the methods used by international managers to manage human resources within international organizations; to explore functional requirements of HRM in the international arena, the influence of legal regimes on IHRM and the key employment relations issues. Finally, the research will evaluate the strategic importance of IHRM and the impact of such factors as economic, social, and political pressure on IHRM.

Selection and recruiting methods

The international labor market demands effective strategies and methods aimed to retain top talents and motivate employees. Regarding effects, the effective job selection strategies are

  1. recruitment and retention: an inducement in recruiting and retaining workers, especially women with children, but this advantage diminishes as more companies adopt the plan;
  2. work readiness: quicker starts in the morning but some abuse of very earliest or latest hours occurs because of the absence of supervision;
  3. overtime: a decrease in the need to schedule overtime, but resistance occurs from workers who depend on overtime pay;
  4. time off: a decrease in company time off (and related savings) for personal business, but this aspect may be considered by some employees as the loss of a benefit, and problems arise in the handling of personal time off for employees in the organization who do not choose flextime;
  5. skills: increase in versatility if fill-in experience in other jobs is provided during flex-hours, but differences in pay rates present a problem (Baron and Kreps 2000).

A circumstance in which flextime can understandably be expected to increase productivity involves the sharing of limited resources and the loss of time, in waiting for equipment, under a fixed work schedule (Baron and Kreps 2000).

IHRM may also find it difficult to make short-term, rapid changes in technological resource allocation. The case of Apple corporation shows that the organization does not restrict innovation but is ready to respond positively to changing circumstances and, increas­ingly, to anticipate future change (Apple Home Page 2009). Management has to balance the need for adaptability in meeting the challenges and opportunities presented by change with, at the same time, preserving an atmosphere of stability and continuity in the interests of members of the organization (Ulrich and Lake 2000).

Experience would indicate that output from a three-shift operation (fixed shifts) is likely to be smallest on the third shift, although there are exceptions. But the output level may be less attributable to shift as such than to the presence of the least-experienced, lowest-seniority employees on the third (Stacey, 1998). One would expect also to find the lowest level of satisfaction on the third shift, but the author has found that many employees preferred the third shift to the second and were reluctant to move to the second when their seniority made them eligible, indeed, passed up seniority-based moves to the second shift until eligible for first-shift openings (Grant, 1991).

While critics are concerned with restructuring jobs to provide greater responsibility, variety, and rewards and to meet heightened employee expectations–at least the expectations of some–in these regards, problems arise when there is an accompanying expectation that the enriched or enlarged job can be easily mastered.

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A common experience among supervisors is to encounter employees who appear unwilling to expend the effort required for the development of skill in a challenging job and unwilling to forgo immediate rewards during the learning period to reap the delayed benefits job mastery can bring. Of course, adequate training should be given, but an employee’s unrealistic expectations concerning what is required to achieve job competency and an accompanying impatience with even the best of instruction can lead to disillusionment, poor progress, and perhaps to withdrawal altogether (Winch, and Schneider 1993).

Motivation and retention

The sustaining of motivation beyond the recruiting period is an uncertain venture but appears to require the continuing efficacy of reinforcers. A reinforcer may retain its potency if the employee’s level of aspiration continues to rise–that is if the employee sets increasingly higher goals in terms of the amount of the reward desired. Or if the reinforcer is viewed by the employee as instrumental in the attainment of a higher and different goal not yet realized, or as evidence of progress toward such a goal (Grant, 1991).

The case of IBM Corporation allows us to say that these conditions may result in sustained motivation; but to ensure that the motivation favorably affects job performance to sustain it, the reinforcement should be made contingent on performance (IBM Home Page 2009). Intrinsic satisfaction arising from the execution of job tasks that fit the employee’s strong talents and interests can exert a continuing positive effect on job performance. During training, the experience of success in learning the job and the accompanying acquisition of a new skill and increase in self-confidence can have a relatively long-lasting favorable effect on job performance even when the job is not highly “suitable” (Winch, and Schneider 1993).

To keep the employee persisting and progressing through the training period, reinforcers should be aimed at rewarding ever-improving performance. Otherwise, reinforcement may freeze the performance at intermediate levels of skill. The supervisor or instructor, therefore, should accompany his reinforcements with the setting of higher performance goals and then provide the kind of training that will help the trainee to move to the advanced levels of skill.

Shifting to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement in the last stages of training, when substantial skill has been achieved, may help to sustain performance in the post-training period. But when the employee has attained competency, the supervisor’s “menu” of reinforcers may be reduced to recognition and favorable comment. Fortunately, the employee may then be “ready” for participation, and participative opportunities may be used by the supervisor as reinforcers of good performance (Baron and Kreps 2000). Ultimately, the sustaining of good performance may depend primarily on the development of self-reinforcement pegged to high standards.

Means are emerging for assisting such development (see discussion of training) (Grant, 1991). Of course, the issue of sustaining motivation through reinforcement (and the associated issues of avoiding satiety and loss of potency) does not turn on the nature of the reinforcers alone but also on the interaction of the reinforcer with the unique personality-motivation pattern in the individual employee. While the value and effect of individual participation will differ from employee to employee, there is also a distinction to be made between individual participation and group participation. Tendencies toward consensus in group decisions may result in minimizing or distorting individual input ((Levine 2008).

Questions remain concerning the motivational effects of selection participation and job analysis. If it motivates, does it motivate separately as a process directed at an outcome or in combination with the desirability of the objective? In this connection, both the process and the intended change should be consonant with employee values, which may be modifiable but in a limited way. Whether participation serves as a “vehicle” for change or not, there is increased recognition that organizational cultures and related work values must be taken into account in change programs. It would be foolish to deny the importance to pay satisfaction of the absolute amount or level of pay. It is, obviously, the known point of reference.

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But it does not work its effect, apparently, as an unalloyed factor. There are related aspects such as input-return equity, comparison with pay of others, pay practices, and–a relatively recent finding–pay administration variables that exert some influence on an employee’s satisfaction with pay. In addition, the degree of satisfaction with pay appears to be determined not alone by pay aspects as they objectively are but also by the employee’s perception of them (Johnson1992).

A dilemma arises in that this sort of job satisfaction is usually not translatable into productivity (may in some cases be found to be inimical to productivity). The example of Toyota Corporation vividly portrays that there is the possibility, however, that social influence wielded by models in the workgroup who do observe high-performance standards will bring the socially motivated newcomer to acceptable levels of performance (Baron and Kreps 2000).

Recruiting and selection are superior to no goal setting as an influence on performance, although the superior effectiveness of a participative goal over an assigned goal is not assured, particularly if participation is restricted to goal setting. (Perhaps participation in goal setting is important to perform primarily in that it may produce higher goals than those assigned by the supervisor) (Storey1989). Specific goals tend to be more effective than general goals.

The difficulty of goals has been found in several studies to be positively related to performance, but the effect appears to be substantially dependent on personal characteristics–a consideration that must temper our reliance on goal difficulty to produce enhanced performance in individual cases. Self-efficacy may influence the choice of goal (Henderson, 2008).

Job analysis and retention

Job analysis appears to be related to improvement in performance if the source is expert and trustworthy and the feedback itself is clear, positive, specific, immediate, frequent, and related strictly to the employee’s actions. But generalizations from one individual to another and from one time period to another (in the employee’s development) would be unwarranted (Baron and Kreps 2000).

There are differences in feedback needs and reactions to feedback between people with differing motivational-personality characteristics (between an individual with high achievement needs and an individual with high affiliation needs, for example) (Grant, 1991). The case of Apple Corporation allows to say that if the frequency and amount of “outside” feedback applicable to the employee’s early training stage are continued undiminished beyond the employee’s need, the employee’s development of self-control may be impeded (Apple Home Page 2009). Care should be taken in making attributions if they are part of the feedback information; luck as an explanation of performance is unlikely to be motivating (Brewster, 1993).

The favorable effect of job structure and content appears to depend on a match-up between what an individual wants in a job and what he or she finds. For an employee who wants a challenge, responsibility, and growth possibilities, these kinds of job characteristics are a source of satisfaction (and probably also conducive to productivity), and repetitiveness is a source of dissatisfaction (Baron and Kreps 2000).

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It does not follow, however, that a repetitive task has little or no appeal for other employees. Individual characteristics, including background, are predisposing conditions. Job enrichment is more likely to affect job satisfaction than job performance; as a motivator of performance, it is more likely to affect the quality of output than quantity. For Toyota’s global workforce, it is most likely to be effective with employees who have relevant knowledge and skills and high growth needs and who are satisfied with the work context.

As for working schedules, the indications are sparse, but they do suggest that rotating shifts can have deleterious effects on employees and that a flexible schedule is more likely to improve satisfaction (or outcomes associated with satisfaction) than job performance (Storey1989).

Good effects, along with some counterbalancing adverse effects, from the use of flextime, have been reported regarding recruitment and retention, work readiness, overtime, time off, and skill=broadening. Productivity improvement has been reported when flextime provided for more efficient utilization of scarce resources by employees. Work schedules can harm the quality of family life in the case of nonstandard workdays, shift work, and long hours. An employee’s ability to control his or her work schedule can reduce the harmful effects of nonstandard hours (Boehnke and Bontis 2003).

Not job conditions alone but the very structure of the job itself can make the job unmanageable. In jobs having a workload comprising some machines and duties requiring several operations at each, there are inbuilt interferences in the job that run counter to the normal human tendency to complete one task before going to another. If intertask interruptions make it highly difficult to allocate time and establish priorities, performance can degenerate to random efforts to “put out fires.”

Moreover, in a more circumscribed job having fewer duties and narrower jurisdiction, an emphasis on job methods not sufficiently based on human capabilities can place excessive demands on the motor skills of employees or on their ability to perceive the accompanying sensory indications. (In the current general movement in job structure from manipulative jobs to monitoring jobs, it is important to ensure that the perceptual demands can be met by employees) (Baron and Kreps 2000).

Operational indexes used as feedback information for supervisors suffer even more with valid attribution than in the case of rank-and-file employees. There are so many agents involved–line and staff personnel–that the contribution of the individual supervisor is watered down or obscured, and the relationship between his or her specific acts and the index figures simply cannot be accurately identified (Boxallm and Purcell, 2002). Yet we religiously quote index figures, though invalid criteria of individual performance, to operators and supervisors with the naive expectation that this information will improve their job performance.

We neglect to indicate how this is to occur. Managers appear to believe that the figures, accompanied by the admonition to keep up the good work or “get on the ball,” will somehow serve. One characteristic of a job that receives little attention but is fundamental to employee performance is the very manageability of the job. The importance of manageability is abundantly clear to managers and employees but is not often noted in the literature, although one comprehensive model of factors affecting worker productivity does list “uncontrollable interference” (along with task capacity and individual effort) as a primary factor (Grant, 1991).

International arena

If employees, no matter how highly skilled or motivated, cannot run the job because of factors beyond their control, they are likely to become disgruntled and relatively unproductive employees, if they indeed stay on the job.

These factors would include interruptions and interferences arising from the condition and flow of supplies and materials, the condition and availability of equipment, the operating condition of machinery, surrounding working conditions, and the activities of other employees; unpredictable changes regarding these various conditions and erratic and non-schedulable occurrences involving these conditions; and the shape in which the job is left by preceding shifts (Baron and Kreps 2000). The effect of such factors is to make it difficult or impossible for employees to anticipate and plan, to organize and encompass the job so that they can “stay on top” of it (Boxallm and Purcell, 2002).

In some operational improvement programs, followed by IBM, heavy reliance is placed on charted information on output and quality as supposed selection analysis on employee performance. It is highly unlikely that the transmittal of such information to experienced employees would have a significant effect on the further development of skill unless accompanied by indications of specific weaknesses of performance (Grant, 1991).

Used strictly as gross informational displays, charted operational data may serve as a basis for goal setting but are inadequate for analysis. If a program relies primarily on effort rather than skill development for operational improvement, some gains may occur from charted output data but they are likely to be short-lived. New programs instituted for operational improvements will inevitably involve job changes requiring a recasting of employee skills. Managers must in such cases recognize the necessity for adequate retraining. Additionally, they should recognize that feedback is at the heart of the establishment of new or revised work habits, and they should make provisions for feedback as part of the retraining effort (Budhwar and Debrah 2001).

Signs of effectiveness will be different and means of detection different in the changed jobs, and the possibility of interference from earlier learning will be strongly present. Employees, experienced or not, cannot be left to their own devices regarding feedback or other aspects of relearning. There is often a special problem in giving feedback in administrative and supervisory jobs in which the signs of effective performance are difficult or impossible to objectify immediately.

The problem is compounded in times of change since the normal agent of the feedback–the coaching superior in most cases–may not possess expertness in the performance of the revised job (Baron and Kreps 2000). Regarding job analysis, he or she will be somewhat blind to the signs of effective execution, and the learning process itself will not tolerate a delay of feedback until the long-interval evidence of effectiveness or ineffectiveness emerges in the form of operational results.

Consequently, the coaching superior will have to rely on his or her best judgment in spotting the indications of degrees of effectiveness produced more immediately by the subordinate’s activities, and use these to guide the trainee in the same path or shift to a new tack. It will necessarily be a loose arrangement requiring grounds for retreat and redirection. But the signs will begin to be clear, and both supervisor and subordinate should take pains to try to interpret them as they feel their way along and to predict from them the larger signs of long-range effectiveness (Carter et al 2008).

The examples of IBM and Toyota allow saying that one of the problems in using output or quality figures as feedback is that often we cannot attribute the feedback indications to the individual employee, much less to specific acts. This is abundantly clear in the case of certain hourly-paid jobs. Although quality and output figures are often used as evidence of a weaver’s performance, for example, these figures could accurately reflect the work of the loom fixer responsible for maintenance of the weaver’s loom (Grant, 1991).

The instructor should emphasize feedback in the preliminary explanations and demonstrations of task execution (illustrating clearly the what, where, and when of signs of effectiveness and how detected) and should continue the emphasis in his or her coaching efforts when the trainee begins practicing the task (Daniels et al. 2008; Grant, 1991).

Cooperative superiors tended to respond flexibly, competitive supervisors rigidly. The precise functions of feedback and reinforcement and the relationships and distinctions between them are still subjects for exploration and speculation. A common point of view is that feedback serves essentially an informational purpose, providing the individual with data concerning both effective and ineffective behavior. But if it also provides a rewarding experience, it is reinforcing (Druker and White, 1996; Taylor, 1998).

Conclusion

In sum, a balance between recruiting and selection processes given by others and the development of self-control apparently must be struck. In addition, although the frequency of feedback is generally expected to improve the employee’s accuracy of perception, difficulties occur in cases when the employee must interpret complex feedback and has trouble applying the rules to transform the sensed feedback into correct meaning.

IHRM plays a major and continuing role in the international arena, especially with the growth of large-scale international business organizations and the divorce of own­ership from management. The decisions and actions of IHRM have an increasing impact on individuals, other organizations, and the community. IHRM involves set­ting policies, formulating plans, and trying to make the best deci­sions possible.

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