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1. Aligning business and HR needs

Therefore, greater emphasis is placed on a range of learning and developmental activities, rather than solely relying on training programmes, for the improvement of individual and organisational performance Loewenberger, Therefore, it can play different roles within organisations, and eventually to be understood, applied and operationalised differently amongst them. Secondly, to gain the appropriate knowledge and wisdom through coping with an emergency, and thus to improve their organisational responses to future events Haslinda, a; Hyland et al.

However, there are others suggesting that since HRD roles are narrower than the respective HRM ones, targeted and purposeful HRD initiatives must be designed and delivered for the above objectives to be achieved Wilson, ; Gillon, It also aims to address the training needs of both the individual and the organisation so to provide the necessary developmental opportunities McGuire, Therefore, SHRD could facilitate both individual and organisational change through its interventions, and through the creation of an organisational learning culture that stimulates innovation and creativity Garavan et al.

Along with the rest of the strategic characteristics, all should aim to strengthen SHRD maturity. The definition suggests that SHRD practices can be associated with enhanced organisational outcomes. It also distinguishes its significance through building a supportive and collaborative business environment that promotes strategic interventions that can sharpen and influence corporate strategy.

The scale suggests that based on the implemented training interventions of an organisation, this can be either characterised either as being immature or mature by moving from the lower to the upper levels. Each stage presupposes the inclusion of its previous ones, expect in the bottom stage in which there is no systematic training at all. Overall, limited research has been undertaken so far on SHRD maturity in times of an economic crisis. To this extent, the modified SHRD framework suggests a set of eight strategic characteristics which can constitute the components of an SHRD mature organisation, along with considering a range of macro and micro-environmental factors which can simultaneously facilitate or constrain its strategic adoption and maturity.

All concepts were clearly defined as well. It is also important to view HR as an equally strategic business partner and contributor within organisations. However, the extent to which the suggested strategic characteristics are employed from the organisations is going to be debated within the context of the recent economic crisis. It would be wiser though to consider an open-system framework which allows the consideration of numerous factors that are simultaneously at play in organisations. The voice of the employees also needs to be considered besides that of the HR executives and the managers so to highlight how different stakeholders can differently understand, apply and operationalise SHRD within organisations.

Such an approach can facilitate the promotion of a supportive and learning culture within organisations, along with the establishment of strategic partnerships with key HRD stakeholders. If HRD practices are strategically integrated with corporate objectives and strategies, this can constitute the axis of a stronger organisational structure MacKenzie et al. However, the extent to which specific strategic criteria are employed within organisational HRD strategies, plans and policies can indicate the maturity of SHRD.

All offered a different set of strategic components, but their common element is that they have been tested mostly within stable business and economic environments. The framework builds upon and enhances the work of McCracken and Wallace a; b since their SHRD model is the most cited and most comprehensive one within the literature. Thus, there is a strong interrelation amongst them so to enhance individually and collectively the maturity of SHRD. Therefore, the application and testing of this modified SHRD framework will be the main focus of this research.

Different HRD stakeholders are expected to offer their respective perspectives on how SHRD can be understood, applied and operationalised within organisations. Garavan was amongst the first who have developed an SHRD model, by proposing nine key strategic characteristics indicating an HRD mature organisation. He also proposed that HRD implementations should be either vertically or horizontally integrated with corporate objectives. The author categorised them based on the degree of their strategic integration with the corporate strategy ibid. Therefore, moving from the lower to the upper levels, organisations become more proactive and mature, and thus it is more likely for their HRD practices to shape and influence organisational strategy and objectives.

To this extent, specific indicators of SHRD maturity were proposed instead fig. Later, it was Pfeffer and Walton who further suggested that it is through greater HRD interventions that its role can be strengthen; thus, to maximise its effectiveness and contribution towards business success, and eventually to be regarded as a strategic business partner. However, a critique that accompanies these models is their end-point assumption.

Quite problematic is also the fact that some of their suggestions e. Finally, although all models suggest a clear set of strategic characteristics, and their common idea is that HRD activities need to be integrated and linked with the organisational strategic planning process, they do not exemplify the extent to which their strategic characteristics are equally weighted or not while evaluating SHRD maturity; a proposition made clear earlier in relation to the modified SHRD framework. The authors argued that all criteria should be strategically integrated and interrelated so to promote the creation of a strong learning culture within organisations ibid.

Yet, the model offers some interesting points within its suggestions e. Following the SHRD discourse, Gilley and Maycunich a have also proposed that organisational learning, performance and change can constitute the key criteria of an HRD mature organisation, by suggesting a three-step process analysis, design of interventions and evaluation for measuring their effectiveness.

Although the authors introduced another three elements e. HRD transformation, leadership, and principles of SHRD that impact upon these practices, they did not explain how to test the extent to which these elements, domains and practices can help HRD in becoming more strategic ibid. Although the model aptly recognises specific HRD behaviours e. Overall, the model focuses more on how to drive change again not all change is necessarily strategic rather than presenting the ways in which HRD could attend a proactive and more influential role in organisations.

To do so, the authors proposed three main HRD accountabilities e. The central idea of these propositions is incorporated into some of the strategic characteristics of the modified SHRD framework e. The model can be characterised as the most complete one by recognising that several conditions e. Its extensive internal and external dimensions 24 processes and their expected outcomes 14 outcomes also constitute a model that may be challenging to operationalise.

Various SHRD definitions are also provided within the literature. Existing SHRD models offer interesting points with regards to SHRD maturity, yet they are also characterised by several inaccuracies such as to whom the call for SHRD is directed, since different executives and organisational stakeholders, in facing a similar situation, would react differently and they would take diverse strategic decisions.

Consistent with all that, this research further adopts a multi- stakeholder analysis approach so to capture differing and changing perceptions of the understanding, operationalisation and maturity of SHRD within the case study organisations and over time pre and post-crisis. This research study draws upon and enhances the work of McCracken and Wallace a; b. To this extent, the modified SHRD framework incorporates most of its strategic characteristics and enhances some of them in such a way so to advance the notion of SHRD maturity.

Specific indicators of SHRD maturity fig. Consistent with the relevant literature, the framework identifies eight key strategic characteristics related with SHRD maturity. Both the micro and macro-environmental factors can influence, and be influenced by, the key strategic characteristics thus, having a reciprocal relationship — two way arrows. All either individually or combined can put additional pressure over the employment of the strategic criteria and thus either to inhibit or expedite their adoption. Therefore, the examination of both the internal and external environments, along with evaluating the employment of the proposed strategic characteristics, will enable the researcher to better examine how different organisations understand, apply and operationalise SHRD.

Following a pre and post- crisis assessment will further assist the researcher to examine SHRD maturity over time. Having that element secured, strategic outcomes are expected to emerge both of performative and humanitarian nature as well. Although such integration is vital, it mostly implies a responsive and reactive role for HRD in terms of its ability to help organisations execute their corporate strategies through a vertical integration.

In line with this proposition, McCracken and Wallace a, b argued that, in an ideal situation, HRD strategies and policies could drive and shape business goals so to achieve the desired outcomes. Several authors have also supported this suggestion by arguing that SHRD must be the axis of organisational life so to help them grow and change Sthapit, ; Holbeche, With regards to this specific strategic criterion, a vertical integration HRD effectiveness can be evidenced through its ability to shape and influence business missions and goals.

Then, a horizontal integration HRD efficiency would focus on the formation of a strategic partnership with HRM so for them to be seen as one and the same, and eventually to have greater impact over the achievement of the corporate strategies and objectives. All these proposed types of integration represent a respective strategic criterion of the modified SHRD framework. Garavan also proposed that SHRD requires from its professionals to translate organisational strategies and objectives into specific SHRD priorities and activities and vice versa. For instance, different types of business strategies e.

Such activities would allow them to identify their organisational strengths and weaknesses by scanning the former, while also to address opportunities and threats from the latter Coombs, Therefore, the inclusion of various organisational stakeholders beyond senior management could be of great value in maximising the successful execution and outcomes of a relevant process.

The author proposed that this can help organisations to stay updated with on-going change by simply re-organising their training objectives and interventions so to address its requirements ibid. Garavan had also proposed that an indication of SHRD maturity could be the regular scanning of the external environment thus allowing organisations to identify any threats and opportunities within it. However, it is not only the external environment that can impact upon organisations.

Their micro-environment can also influence their practices, and thus requires some attention. McCracken and Wallace a; b argued that an environmental scan of both macro and micro-environments should be undertaken by involving senior managers. They further argued that a strategic alignment between the HRD strategies and the corporate one would enable an easier analysis of both environmental contexts ibid. Harrison also stressed the importance of linking HRD strategies with corporate ones as a prerequisite of increased organisational success.

Felstead and Green also distinguished that the powers keeping up HRD practices, in the larger part of firms during previous recessions, were a blend of outer regulations and focused business sector strengths. To that extent, some organisations or industries were more successful in handling organisational or environmental shocks than others ibid. The modified SHRD framework suggests that organisational awareness of both micro and macro-environmental contexts can increase their attention to SHRD.

It is expected to lead to better solutions through their respective insightful contribution to the process. The consideration of various factors e. However, besides solely scanning the external environment, an internal environmental scanning process will allow organisations to identify their strengths while diminishing their respective weaknesses and thus to build sustainable competitive advantage. To this extent, the modified SHRD framework argues that it is not only senior managers who could offer useful recommendations.

Managers at all levels branch managers, in this case, owing to the business focus shift and front-line employees can offer additional information through their respective propositions. However, McCracken and Wallace a, b suggested that while HRD policies and plans are crucial, it is vital for HRD strategies to exist as well, through which these policies and plans can be supplemented. This is essential since an HRD strategy concerns not only the present but also the future direction of an organisation, while it also includes both policies and plans so to achieve its objectives ibid.

Others further argued that especially within rapidly changing business and economic environments, organisations need to adopt long-term strategies so to proactively address future changes through a strategic integration of all their functional strategies with their corporate one Felstead et al. There are many studies focusing on proactive management actions and decision making processes, by suggesting that organisations can reduce risk through increasing their sensitivity against on-going change and economic uncertainty, and through enhancing their operational excellence and competitive advantage Chen et al.

Empirical research evidence further outlines the crucial role of proactively obtaining all relevant information to effectively design strategic plans for coping with business uncertainty Paille et al. Yet, there are other HR practices e. It would allow organisations to maintain a regular fit with the latest developments and changes occurring both within their internal and external environments.

Coupled with evidence on the rest of the suggested strategic criteria, SHRD will move closer to a mature state and eventually will be regarded as an equal strategic business partner internal integration.

Communication Error Occurred.

Such an interaction could enable a knowledge and information exchange process to take place under the objective of better adjusting to new business realities, to enhance organisational competitiveness and to achieve a higher return on investment ROI Beer et al. To get them involved, HRD executives need to demonstrate the benefits of their plans through clear and well- designed strategies and budgets that can identify all potential barriers and can highlight the financial or non-financial positive outcomes for the organisation Harrison, ; Garavan et al. In a similar vein, a most recent research identified both organisational and leadership capability as contextual factors affecting the impact of a financial crisis by indicating SHRD as the driving force of organisational change and growth MacKenzie et al.

LMs can also be viewed as facilitators of learning and knowledge sharing Alagaraja, b; Wilson, ; Khurana et al. Yet, Anderson argued that such decentralisation can make it difficult for HRD executives to influence a strategic alignment with LMs. Furthermore, many LMs lack the appropriate knowledge to implement change management processes, a crucial area of SHRD, while HRD executives sometimes lack enough business knowledge to link their outcomes to business performance Op de Beeck et al.

Therefore, the main responsibility of HR executives is to ensure that LMs possess the desired competencies to manage people and teams, and their consensus to perform HR responsibilities especially during times of continuous operational change Alfes et al. According to Gibb , employee development could also contribute to broader organisational change and transformation of human relations at work. LMs can be viewed as learning facilitators, as they can use their own initiatives to identify training needs at individual or team level, and thus to become more competent in their interpersonal interrelations with their teams and how they manage their subordinates Alagaraja, b; Khurana et al.

Thus, LMs could play a vital role in various HR activities e. Despite any difficulties that may be associated with LMs involvement, a strategic partnership with them can assure their active participation throughout any HRD decision-making process by ensuring that all HRD activities are fully aligned at all levels tactical, operational, strategic Ford et al.

The latter could offer useful insights with regards to HRD practices as being closest to employees, and they can also be benefited from their participation to relevant activities, while the former could focus more on strategic and long-term aspects of their work by devolving HR responsibilities to the line. Therefore, through a strategic partnership with them, HRD executives and LMs could better understand their needs, and they can better illustrate their common efforts in building mutual trust between the management team and the workforce ibid.

From an employee viewpoint, clear SHRD practices permit better understanding of the career paths and the competencies required for future work tasks Alagaraja, a. However, working under the same objectives will definitely favour everybody. They need to continuously identify, analyse and manage the diverse demands of their key stakeholders through developing collaborative client relationships with them as part of their efforts to enhance their image and credibility Gilley et al.

They need to maintain effective communication channels as well so to better address future problems Chan et al. Hendry also suggested that HRD alone is not enough to cope with environmental complexity, and thus an integration with HRM should be attained. However, others criticised and questioned whether this integration can really exist Harrison, The authors proposed that HRD can work in parallel and in synergy with HRM so for HR initiatives to be seen as one and the same, and eventually to have greater impact over the achievement of the corporate strategies and objectives ibid.

Yet, an existing discourse within the literature also argues for HRD to be regarded and examined as a distinctive concept and not under the HRM umbrella Steward et al. However, with regards to this specific strategic criterion, a synergy between HRM and HRD is suggested as offering an indicator of SHRD maturity because of all the associated benefits coming out from it.

Garavan proposed that HRD executives as trainers need to carry out an innovative and consultative role so to design and deliver the most targeted training programmes for individuals. For example, a study among HRD directors in the US outlined HRD leadership as an important indicator of driving change, collaborating with LMs, and achieving corporate goals and objectives Johansen et al.

To this extent, McCracken and Wallace a; b proposed that HRD executives, along with all other managers involved in HRD implementations, need to be leaders and facilitators of change so to successfully drive and promote individual and organisational change. Thus, it argues for their ability to identify training and learning needs, to develop the most appropriate HRD interventions to address them, and to establish a learning environment that is conductive in sharing and exchanging important information and knowledge.

For instance, by undertaking the role of the change agent, they can be viewed as strategic advisors through their constant consultation on HRD issues related to the formulation of business strategy and to performance outcomes as well Gilley et al. In addition, they are required to always be proactive in nature and thus to set rather than follow trends.

Garavan argued that HRD should recognise corporate culture, by further proposing that a match between it and business strategy should be attained. The author further suggested that organisational culture can be viewed as an important variable of how HRD could be implemented ibid. However, McCracken argued that business culture is considered a complex concept that sometimes it can create barriers to individual and organisational learning due to concerns in relation to key decisions on who is going to be trained etc.

To this extent, the authors suggested that HRD should be able to influence corporate culture in such a way so to successfully promote its developmental activities ibid. The work of Jones et al highlighted the importance of an adaptive and flexible organisational culture, especially when it comes to business amalgamations.

Human Resource Management

Their findings outlined that a clear and well-communicated business culture can facilitate the change process, while it could also eliminate resistance to change within both the acquired and the leading organisations ibid. Walker further argued that it alludes to the predominating atmosphere which exists inside a business and affects its operations, workforce etc. It is also argued that organisations following a long-term orientation, and being under a clearly defined culture and a positive perceived business climate, tend to recover more easily from external shocks Das, To do so, its executives need to undertake an extensive role through which they could be identified as change-agents and consultants and thus to work towards the development of a supportive culture and business climate that promotes organisational competitiveness and success through continuous learning and developmental opportunities.

Once more, the interrelation of the proposed strategic characteristics can be evidenced so to collectively contribute to SHRD maturity. The authors argued that through a cost-effectiveness HRD evaluation, organisations can assess its long-term and intangible benefits e. To this extent, both financial and non-financial benefits must be considered; yet, with the latter to be viewed as more important through which the former can also be achieved Schermuly et al.

However, despite heavy investments in HRD, organisations frequently fail to adequately evaluate the success of their training interventions Hale, ; Tennant et al. Thus, it should move beyond cost-effective evaluation short-term perspective and to look for more long-term oriented results. Furthermore, the evaluation process should aim to assess individual and organisational change and growth, while also to ensure that the acquired knowledge has been transferred to job contexts. Overall, for a strategic-oriented HRD evaluation to take place.

They are equally weighted and interrelated to each other. Therefore, we can identify two potential states of SHRD maturity, namely the mature and immature state. Therefore, strong evidence of the right- sided indicators indicate a mature, in SHRD terms, organisation, while the opposite occurs when the left-sided indicators are mostly witnessed.

Such practices can help organisations to reduce operational risk, and to increase their sensitivity against on- going change and economic uncertainty. By employing several scanning techniques e. Furthermore, a mature organisation would also be able to change its strategies and practices on a relatively short notice and at low cost, while also to develop and apply dynamic strategic moves so to respond to emerging opportunities and incipient trends.

It is also expected that a strategic alignment between HRD and corporate objectives exists under a long-term perspective beyond their short-term orientation. However, having witnessed the left-sided points, research findings tend to move towards an immature state. In such a case, limited-to-none scanning activities are undertaken, and HRD-business plans are mainly short-term oriented. The support of senior managers is also lacked. It is of equal importance the creation of strategic partnerships between the HRD executives and the LMs branch managers and the employees.

In a mature case, HR responsibilities are devolved to the line, while employees are consulted in relevant HR concerns. On the other hand, limited or total lack of strategically partnering with the suggested key stakeholders could offer an indication of an immature organisation in relation to the respective strategic criterion. In a similar vein, mature organisations are expected to go beyond cost-effective evaluation short-term orientation by paying greater attention to those business results which can assure their long-term viability. On the other hand, immature organisations mostly concern for their survival without planning for their business upturn and long-term prosperity.

Overall, based on the respective perceptions of the interviewed stakeholders on all strategic characteristics of the modified SHRD framework through a pre and post- crisis assessment , the researcher managed to assess and evaluate SHRD maturity within his case study organisations and thus to highlight change and constraints of SHRD at the time of an economic crisis. However, besides the extent to which these strategic characteristics are present or not within organisations, there are various factors that can simultaneously be at play.

Therefore, the modified SHRD framework adopts an open-system approach so to allow consideration of all micro and macro-environmental forces that can simultaneously shape, constrain or facilitate SHRD adoption and maturity in organisations. Internal factors can affect organisational efficiency with redundancies to be promoted in order to address them.

However, these factors may vary considerably across countries and business sectors. That makes it even more difficult for those organisations operating globally to effectively manage and develop their human capital. Thus, the modified SHRD framework suggests the consideration of several micro and macro-environmental factors which can impact upon the strategic characteristics featuring SHRD maturity. It can also offer a sense of identity and consistency amongst the organisational members and business functions, while it can strengthen their communication and problem solving capacities, their commitment and satisfaction to eventually foster organisational effectiveness, competitiveness and efficiency Sadler-Smith, Therefore, business effectiveness correlates with the construction of an adaptive and supportive organisational culture under which employees are more likely to understand and embrace the corporate values and beliefs, and thus to help organisations to become more flexible and receptive to on-going change Griswold, Besides organisational culture, business climate can also play an important role throughout the design and implementation process of any HR initiative.

Organisational climate alludes to the predominating atmosphere which exists inside an organisation and impacts upon its employees Burton et al. Thus, it can enhance collective identity and group commitment which can enhance organisational effectiveness Potosky, Typical examples examining the way in which organisational climate associates with employees and business performance can be found in studies conducted by Bowen and Schneider and Hong et al.

Smith et al. Organisational climate and organisational HR tactics e. For instance, an engaged workforce may be more customer-oriented and efficient, impacting on levels of absenteeism and turnover Katou, ; Chalofsky, ; Xanthopoulou et al. Taking all that into consideration, these findings can strongly associate with the business focus shift being noticed within the case study banking organisations enhancement of their front-line operations. Therefore, the importance of the organisational culture and climate can be noticed. Hausknecht et al highlighted the importance of retaining and training employees, especially during dynamic periods of change, as such strategies can increase employee satisfaction, engagement, and commitment.

However, a common practice during a downturn is to trim rewards and all related benefits so to avoid lay- offs or to implement workforce redundancies either through early retirement schemes or by simply firing employees ibid. It can also enhance other factors e. To this extent, the modified SHRD framework suggests that environmental scanning should be an on-going process through the inclusion of various organisational members, beyond HRD executives and senior management.

The Value of Planning

That would allow for more voices to be heard, and thus to help organisations to better track changes within their supply and demand of human capital, and accordingly to more effectively address them. Their influential role can be viewed as a stabilising force for most national economies, as their bargaining power can result in multiple benefits for the workforce Burrell et al.

As an employee recognised association, a labour union aims to enhance their collective voice within organisations with regards to their employment terms and conditions, and to further ensure their well-being Hancke, ; Rosman et al. Therefore, Teague and Roche proposed that there should be a constructive collaboration between organisations and trade unions so to handle future retrenchments collectively and effectively and in advance of any type of crises. In the Greek case, unions used to hold a powerful influence that could impact upon employees and organisations Matsaganis, Eventually, right after the crisis, their bargaining power decreased, along with their membership status ibid.

Therefore, Hodson and Sullivan proposed that unions should recruit new members so to keep up with the rapidly changing industrial and occupational environments. Such proposition can clearly illustrate the Greek case through fewer union memberships, high political intervention from the state, and clear political preference to specific political parties on behalf of many trade unions representatives Matsaganis, Taking all that into consideration, HR departments need to undertake greater responsibility in developing rational HR procedures that focus on promoting successful management-workforce relations, and thus to create the necessary conditions for maintaining a harmonious working environment.

Therefore, a strategic partnership with them would be proved beneficial so for win-win outcomes to emerge. A limitation which future research could consider. New forms of technology-based systems highly affected the way in which people are managed at work Farnham, Sophisticated HR information systems were developed in an attempt to diminish time losses occurring throughout most HR operational activities e.

Such technologically-friendly systems enabled HR executives to focus more on strategic issues and thus to redefine many aspects of their organisational employment practices ibid.

That also resulted in the implementation of new hiring and training processes, while reward and jobs contexts were redesigned, and organisational structures were re-shaped so to meet these new business requirements DeFillippi, Relevant studies also outlined that technological HR-related innovations e. Others further suggest that e-learning can be advantageous as it can offer greater flexibility, customisation and trainee control Johnson et al.

All that can pose a new challenge for HR departments with regards to their approach of dealing with an ageing workforce different training needs etc. However, although technological advancements have mainly been positive, they can also lead to various organisational problems e. There are others further suggesting that e-HRM is mainly driven by cost reduction requirements rather than a strategic direction Ruta, ; Ruel et al.

Milic identified two types of innovation, namely the incremental and the radical. The former is the one espoused during an economic crisis as it is easier for it to be executed right after retrenchment strategies; yet, without guaranteeing organisational success and growth ibid. On the other hand, radical innovations call for radical changes. Even though there is a high degree of uncertainty within their adoption and implementation, they can direct to new ways of conducting business using these technological advances ibid.


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The way in which technology will influence HRD also depends on the way in which organisations view such advancements and how they are trying to incorporate them within their business practices. Taking all that into consideration, the modified SHRD framework proposes specific strategic components e. Organisations which were previously facing only local or national competition are now facing global antagonism Williams, Therefore, many organisations have adopted a growth strategy so to grasp the benefits of globalisation e. From an HRD perspective, globalisation allowed organisations to further develop their intellectual capital, capabilities and behaviours, and urged the speed at which employees had to acquire new skills so to keep pace with new challenging tasks Burrell et al.

Yet, there are others who believe that globalisation and economic crisis are interrelated notions by proposing that the latter came out as an outcome of the former OECD, ; Lane, In any case, HR departments had to adjust their strategies in such a way so to meet the associated challenges of both concepts.

Therefore, HR executives had to utilise the most appropriate HR toolkits in order to weather the current downturn and to eventually drive organisational change, growth and success Vance, However, further HRD investments are not just about increasing the skills of the workforce. Further development of employees is also essential due to the increased competition which calls for a high-calibre workforce to cope with uncertainty through the promotion of work innovation, higher customer satisfaction and market share Felstead et al.

That would allow them to address any threats and opportunities and eventually to increase their preparedness towards the side- effects of an unexpected event. Employment-related legislation looks at various parts of employability e. However, owing to constantly changing business and economic conditions, employment relations have been highly altered ibid.

Of greater importance within the political sphere is also the inexorably dynamic government involvement within the labour markets Farnham, As to all that, HR executives need to be fully aware of the relative legislation framework so to develop and deliver HR practices which can meet institutional legitimacy.

That can be achieved through undertaking an extensive role, through continuous environmental scanning etc. Furthermore, in regard to constantly changing business and economic environments, a range of influential factors have also been considered and discussed. With that taken into account, there is an imperative need of new empirical studies to be undertaken by focusing on SHRD maturity at a time of an economic crisis.

Therefore, the modified SHRD framework aims at addressing these concerns through its proposed set of strategic characteristics, and by testing them within the broader context of the economic crisis. The following chapter will discuss the design, methodology and philosophy under which this research was undertaken. Reference will also be made on the fieldwork study before moving on to discuss the research findings in later chapters. The chapter will open with the rationale of the chosen research strategy and design for carrying out this empirical study. Furthermore, the strengths of the selected data collection methods will be discussed, and reference will also be made to those techniques applied so to eliminate any drawbacks.

With regards to the research questions and objectives of this study, a case study research strategy two case studies allowed the researcher to explore SHRD maturity in depth and over time within the target organisations. Interviewees were also asked to offer their viewpoints on the current state of all key areas examined post-crisis. Yet, there are some limitations associated with the employment of a retrospective design e.

Although a longitudinal study may appear as an alternative route, it was difficult to carry out due to time constraints, and the refusal of the case study banking organisations to commit their staff for more than a few days. With regards to the adopted research strategy, the literature uncovers the application of a case study approach in most disciplines and research areas.

What is HRD? A definitional review and synthesis of the HRD domain | Emerald Insight

Case studies focus on collecting information about contemporary events e. SHRD maturity at the time of an economic crisis , often about a particular firm or industry, so as to offer a complete picture of the entire situation ibid. Figure 4. Case studies are also considered useful as they allow researchers to examine data at all levels micro, meso, macro , and thus can be viewed as a practical solution when a big sample population is difficult to be obtained Rowley, With multiple-case studies, research evidence is also considered more interesting and convincing, with the research study being more robust Yin, They can also result in unbiased data, by helping researchers to examine their topic without overly influencing it Wilson, J.

This strategy can allow researchers to reveal multiple truths, and eventually to achieve a deeper understanding of the phenomenon under investigation. A case study research strategy further enables researchers to place themselves within the context being under investigation and thus to understand the perception and behaviours that characterise the social actors of their research Flyvbjerg, As with most research methods, case studies also received criticism.

They are often accused of lacking rigour, and that they provide little basis of scientific generalisation Yin, Furthermore, case studies are often too long and hard to be conducted, as they can produce a huge amount of documentation Yin, Their reliability and validity are subject to scepticism when sampling is not adequate Thomas, Yet, the objective of most case studies is not the generalisation of their findings Stake, as cited in Thomas, Overall, by following a case study research strategy, the researcher managed to explore and identify the experiences of SHRD maturity within the two banking organisations through the respective perceptions of different key stakeholders.

As Easterby- Smith et al. Furthermore, the purposive sampling technique lays the premise that participants are those holding the knowledge to provide the desired information; hence, the selection of respondents enhances the reliability and validity of the research design Yin, However, various data quality concerns can be identified with the use of semi- structured interviews, which are highly associated with reliability lack of standardisation — Robson, , forms of bias interviewer bias, interviewee or response bias , and generalisability difficult to generalise about the entire population Easterby-Smith et al.

Moreover, the issue of reflexivity emerges as interviewees may express what the interviewer wants to hear ibid. For all that to happen, a careful research design is required. The research design of each individual study is mainly concerned with all aspects of how to conduct the research, for example its type e. Therefore, the justification of the chosen research philosophy will be discussed. Easterby-Smith et al argued that research philosophy enables researchers to increase their knowledge and experience on the available research material and theories so to better adjust them to their individual projects.

Therefore, depending on the philosophical stance a researcher adapts, diverse methodological choices will be applied. In business research, there are certain research philosophies and dominant paradigms which appoint the research tools for the later stages of the research process Saunders et al. Therefore, if paradigms represent the dominant views of the world within the HRD literature, then it can be argued that HRD could have many paradigms ibid.

Paradigms are closely related to epistemology. Each paradigm embraces a different perspective through which it can influence the way in which the world is described and instituted by HRD researchers. Yet, it could be wise to clarify the confusion that certain methodological approaches emanate from a specific paradigm and its philosophical assumptions. Research methods and tools are not excluded from consideration because of their tension to favour either the use of qualitative or quantitative data collection methods.

This means that research can include both approaches; yet, each paradigm will heavily influence the interpretation and analysis of the collected data. Based on a positivist ontology, the researcher considers things to be real if they can be objectively measurable either through hypotheses testing or cause-effect relationships e. Burrell and Morgan further suggested that HRD research is about affecting organisational practices and policies throughout the process of social engineering, and the technocratic approaches upon the problems we are dealing with.

With the ascent of industrialisation mid-eighteenth to early-nineteenth century , post- positivism had followed positivism. Interpretivism is an anti-positivist research position which is subjective in nature. Opposite to positivism, which considers human actions as being influenced by their external environment, interpretivism views human beings as autonomous units which can act on their free will ibid. Thus, interpretivism considers the need of a deeper understanding of HRD and its processes so to exemplify their impact on employee performance Nyhan, However, Habernas had argued that there are limitations when researchers try to understand interpretivism, in terms of its practical judgment, action and communication.

Foley also highlighted that interpretivism lacks facts such as organisational culture and structure. Therefore, despite increased preference of qualitative approaches of social inquiry in HRD research, the underlying ontological and epistemological perspectives can be described as relatively positivist Vasilachis de Gialdino, Thus, critical realism CR has emerged by mainly focusing on issues that are difficult to understand, such as radical changes within the economic and business environments Sambrook, ; ; ; Rigg et al.

CR positions itself between positivism and interpretivism by acknowledging the socially-embedded and imperfect nature of scientific inquiry, and the existence of knowledge independent of humans Clark, By focusing on understanding causality and explaining events in the actual domain e. Although humans have a degree of agency, this is always constrained by wider structural factors that are viewed as surrounding the individual.

Likewise, social phenomena are made possible by the presence of humans but are deemed to be external to individuals and have existence and the power to constrain whether this being recognized by individuals or not ibid. Therefore, CR can offer greater opportunities to better distinguish between actual, real and empirical world views, since it follows a middle path Easterby-Smith et al.

To this extent, a critical researcher should interview and pose questions to certain groups e. Sambrook and Steward and Sambrook also suggested that thinking critically allows different voices to be heard over the same history so to reveal multiple realities of it. Thus, world is described as interacting, multi-directional and complex McKelvey, Therefore, pragmatists tend to favour the integration of both qualitative and quantitative paradigms in studying a phenomenon. In that case, semi-structured interviews will be supplemented by documentary analysis and the use of basic HR metrics so for a methodological triangulation to take place.

All participants signed up to provide their critical insights into the phenomenon under investigation. Then, in line with its third research objective and question, this research examined a range of factors which can generate positive behaviours, or can influence abnormal, counterproductive behaviours and eventually can affect organisational propensity and SHRD maturity. Therefore, semi-structured interviews with HR staff, branch managers and front-line branch network employees have been conducted. Complementary to interviews, documentary analysis was also carried out and some basic HR metrics were also used.

Interviews can also offer an in-depth exploration of the various subjective factors and variables which need to be addressed Patton, Thus, interviews were held with those employees and executives being employed for more than six years by their organisation so to examine SHRD maturity through a pre and post-crisis assessment. That allowed him not only to better follow their thoughts by posing them additional questions, but also to be able to get a holistic view of the phenomenon under investigation through a wide list of relevant questions.

Easterby-Smith et al. Greater flexibility also allows for modifications within the interview process, which can eventually result in better questions and responses Robson, Another major advantage of this method lies in its increased certainty and attention to detail. If everything is clear, the researcher can obtain more detailed information and thus to extract more insightful conclusions.

Saunders et al. To grasp these benefits, the researcher maintained a continuous communication with the case study banking organisations from the very early stages of his research till the fieldwork , along with offering them the option to request a report of his research findings after completion of his PhD studies. However, along with their advantages, semi-structured interviews tend to be time consuming e.

Finally, access-related concerns may also be encountered by a researcher during his fieldwork. To overcome these concerns, the researcher chose to transcript every interview right after its completion so to save time to devote it on their interpretation. Thus, by interviewing key HRD stakeholders, and by interpreting their respective perceptions, the researcher managed to better explore the organisational context within which each organisation operates through examining various contextual variables e. SHRD characteristics, organisational culture and climate, organisational structure and strategy, work organisation and management style, organisational approach to its people development, impact factors of their HRD approach etc.

Therefore, Saunders et al. The population of this research is defined as the Greek banking sector and its organisational stakeholders. However, due to time constraints, it was not possible to examine all banking institutions within the sector, nor to interview all potential stakeholders. Therefore, the researcher chose to focus on two banking organisations and to conduct interviews with those people who had been employed for more than six years within their organisation, thus having the knowledge to address the interview questions retrospectively.

With regards to interview participants, it was difficult to approach senior managers due to their workload and the denial of the HR executives to introduce the researcher to top management executives. Trade union representatives were also excluded due to time constraints, yet a few unionised employees were interviewed instead. Twenty-three 23 employees from both HR departments e. Such a multi-stakeholder research perspective allowed the researcher to conduct an in-depth investigation into both banking organisations with regards to their SHRD practices.


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All research participants were employed for more than six years from their organisations; thus, having the knowledge to address interview questions retrospectively. From each case, thirty-eight 38 participants were interviewed in total, as presented below. Table 4. The researcher explained them the purpose of his research and asked for their consent in supporting his research at its later stages throughout the fieldwork. Having considered his suggestions, both banks though their HR directors provided the researcher with a written consent form. However, due to crisis, the researcher had to maintain a regular contact with both banks as many people came and gone, and thus he had to re-negotiate access with them.

In that case, it was decided to conduct interviews with branch managers and front-line employees. Both HR departments introduced the researcher to a few branch managers and front-line employees. However, their offering sample was not sufficient two branch managers and three employees per case , and thus the researcher decided to introduce the snowball sample technique so to increase participation.

The researcher also had to consider that those participants being introduced to him by both HR departments may were those they wanted to offer thus, for biased responses to emerge. Therefore, besides purposeful sampling, the snowball sample technique was also introduced. Such a technique allows recommendations of additional interview participants from existing interviewees. Those branch managers and employees were the ones who further introduced the researcher to other colleagues who were willing to participate, and being employed for more than six years like them within both organisations.

In addition, the researcher used his personal network to come with additional participants. Documentary analysis includes the interpretation of various organisational reports, mission and strategy statements, HR policies and relevant handbooks, organisational climate surveys, HR metrics etc.

Browell suggested that for those researchers following a case study approach, documentary data analysis can provide additional evidence that can enhance the validity of their research outcomes. Most of the examined reports were collected in the headquarters of both banks or through their corporate websites.

In any case, a careful inspection was conducted and only the most pertinent parts were translated and utilised during data interpretation. Finally, documentary evidence can also offer useful information in a more detailed and formally written manner ibid. From the early stages of this research, the researcher maintained regular contact with the HR departments of both banks so to assure their support during his fieldwork.

Every time he was back in Greece, he visited both headquarters in order to further introduce himself and his research project to new staff, and eventually to build and maintain trust with them. Prior to his visit for conducting his fieldwork, a cover letter was sent appendix 1 , within which the aim of his thesis was briefly explained, complemented by a statement of his supervisor appendix 1 kindly requesting them to participate in this study.

Finally, a draft of the interview questions appendix 6 was sent to most participants so to allow them to be better prepared. A major concern during the interviews was whether to take notes or to record the discussion, or do both. The researcher decided that digitally recording the interviews was essential so to ensure that the entire discussion would be available during their transcription. Notes were also taken. Most interviews lasted from sixty to ninety minutes maximum.

All digital recordings were safely backed up onto two different external data storages USB sticks and under specific file names for security purposes and for their future transcription as well. All concepts were clearly explained to them so to assure that interviews will run without any particular problems. Difficulties may rise owing to social, cultural and other internal or external factors. Therefore, the researcher had to re-arrange many of his interview meetings as many of the participants were extremely busy during that period July-September , while others were on their annual leave.

Meifert, Matthias T. He is active as a management consultant, coach, and trainer, with a focus on aspects of strategic HR development, project management, effective HR management, the management of complex change projects, and leadership. He has advised and coached numerous individual managers and businesses on the practice and tools for leadership.

In his work, he applies a consultancy concept that is highly practice-centric and holistic. His experience arises from his academic background in business education and from twelve years of management practice at a German corporate bank. Matthias Meifert has published numerous papers on topics including strategic HR development and cooperates actively with academic partners, such as the European Business School, Oestrich-Winkel. Email: matthias. What is Strategic HR Development?.

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