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The Impact of Strategic Human Resource Management on Organizational Performance
The link between human resource management (HRM) and business performance is high on the corporate agenda at present. Both organizations and academics are striving to prove that HRM has a positive impact on bottom line productivity (Cooper, 2000; Gratton, 2000). At the same time there is growing awareness that progressive human resource policies and practices are an essential factor in facilitating service quality to hospitality and tourism customers. Organizations are focusing on the role of human resources in achieving competitive advantage and this focus can bring with it new approaches to managing human resources. Accordingly, there has been increased research interest in the extent to which strategic HRM has been embraced by the hospitality and tourism industry (Hoque, 1999a, b; Worsfold, 1999). Comparatively little has been written, however, exploring the nature of the impact of strategic HRM on organizational performance in this sector. The relative lack of research activity currently centred on strategic HRM, signalled for example by Lashley and Watson (1999), is a cause for concern, especially in the light of Baum’s (1997) assertion of the increased centrality of the human factor in the ability of tourism and hospitality organizations to deliver quality products and services. This special edition focuses on the impact of strategic HRM on organizational performance in hospitality and tourism, examining the human resource policies and practices of organizations which are attempting to strengthen the links between their people and business strategies. The first article, by Professor Rosemary Lucas, sets the scene in establishing ‘‘fragments of HRM’’ within the hospitality industry as a whole compared to all industries and services in Great Britain. Four themes are explored: how the management of HRM is organized and practised, individualism and collectivism, participation and involvement, and other ‘‘sophisticated’’ human resource practices. Importantly, the principal conclusion is that hospitality organizations may improve their organizational performance by adopting more developed, ‘‘soft’’ HRM practices. The next article, by Margaret Graham and Professor John Lennon, extends this position. Drawing from two UK national visitor attraction surveys, this article recommends that any human resource strategy covering diverse workforces has sufficient flexibility to allow the achievement of the distinctive objectives of each visitor attraction’s organizational mission.
The article by Julia Christensen Hughes deepens the discussion on the impact of HRM. It presents a framework for understanding a number of versions of HRM and, through a Canadian hospitality case study, identifies HRM ‘‘best practices’’. These practices, framed within a ‘‘universal’’ approach to HRM, include establishing a service-oriented culture, motivating employees, providing employees with the opportunity to contribute to the organization, and, potentially, measuring the impact of human resource practices. The remaining three papers elaborate the theme of improving organizational performance through strategic HRM. Each of these papers discusses the role of human resource policies and practices in achieving specific business objectives. The paper by Professor Leo Jago and Dr Margaret Deery examines the role of human resource practices in enabling cost reduction and quality enhancement through its examination of the use of volunteers in Australian tourism organizations. The findings suggest that practices such as innovative training programmes, strategic recruitment and developing a team environment all enhance service quality. Coherent human resource policies and practices is the advocacy of the next paper, by Dr Clare Kelliher and Professor Michael Riley. This paper concentrates on functional flexibility in the hotel sector, for example in conjunction with higher levels of remuneration, in arguing its position that the impact of HRM in organizations is greatest where human resource initiatives are implemented as part of an integrated package of people practices. The focus of the following paper, by Lois Farquharson and Professor Tom Baum, is the key role that HRM can play in strategic change programmes. Two distinct change programmes in Scottish airports are examined to identify the form and extent of HRM as a catalyst of organizational change in the travel sector.
Two interview-based Viewpoint articles offer insight into the relationship between strategic human resource management/ development and organizational performance. In the first of these pieces Gordon Lyle, HR Director in the international Hilton Group, explains the strong links between Hilton’s recently launched, global quality drive and complementary strategic HRM initiative. In the second Viewpoint article, Denise Drummond, Director of Tourism People in Scotland, articulates the role and strategy of Tourism People and outlines the key challenges it faces in helping to develop Scotland’s largest industry.
Last but not least, the Research in brief article by Professor Conrad Lashley argues the need to be more critically aware of the role of emotions within organizations as a potential source of competitive advantage.
Gillian Maxwell and Sandra Watson
Previously published in: International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Volume 14, Number 5, 2002
57 pages; ISBN 9781845446352
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