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Over the past few decades, organizations have progressively worked towards ensuring business practices embraced guarantee they remain competitive, innovative and operate as successful going concerns. This led to a situation where organizations began perceiving that their human resource function as a very critical factor towards determining the success with which they are able to meet short and long-term organizational goals and operating outcomes. This has led to the development of innovations centered on strategic human resource management. Strategic HRM seeks to ensure organizations meet the diverse needs of workforce members while at the same instance ensuring organizational goals are positively embraced. Youndt, Snell, Dean and Lepak (1996) published an article titled Human Resource Management, Manufacturing Strategy, and Firm Performance in the Academy of management Journal on this matter. They discussed the control theory and behavioral perspective on an organization’s workforce with the aim of maximizing organizational performance. Jackson, Schuler and Jiang (2014) also published an article titled An Aspirational Framework for Strategic Human Resource Management discussing how strategic HRM is employed by firms to practically enhance environmental sustainability and positively managing innovation. This paper seeks to critique these two scholarly works on strategic human resource management in an effort to underscore the significance of SHRM that promotes the concerns of an organization’s workforce to positively influence the performance of other organizational functions.
Youndt, Snell, Dean and Lepak (1996) conducted a study aimed at investigating two alternative viewpoints with regard to human resource management in manufacturing organizations. The objective of the study was to investigate the impact of contingency and universal factors affecting human resource management strategies with regard to performance metrics in manufacturing entities. On the other hand, Jackson, Schuler and Jiang (2014) sought to look into three decades of innovate developments in the field of strategic human resource management. These three scholars examine the value of strategic human resource management initiatives with regard to their impact on external and internal stakeholders.
According to Youndt, Snell, Dean and Lepak (1996), an organization’s employees offer organizations with a significant foundation for realizing a competitive advantage that is not only sustainable but also captures the essence of an effective and strong human resource management function. As such, these authors contend that organizational performance is greatly determined by the successful administration of human capital as opposed to physical capital or assets. They point out that in progressive manufacturing companies, it is common to find that heavy invest have been made on both physical and intangible assets such as statistical process controls, manufacturing technology as well as IT infrastructure (Youndt, Snell, Dean and Lepak, 1996). However, these cannot be effectively and efficiently exploited without the presence of a workforce with the commitment and skills that drives the fundamental process of value creation. It is therefore critical that manufacturing organizations are in a position to exploit the industriousness of employees so as to realize superior overall organizational performance.
Youndt, Snell, Dean and Lepak (1996) provide that two main perspectives have been used to try and project a clear image as to the affiliation between organizational performance and the human resource management function. These two perspectives are the contingency and universal viewpoints. The work of these researchers describes the universal viewpoint also referred to as the best practices approach as one which supports a direct link between organizational performance and the human resource function. The contingency viewpoint on the other hand provides that a manufacturing organization’s strategic position can at the extreme ends either diminish or boost the influence of the human resource function on an organization’s performance.
The scholarly work of Jackson, Schuler and Jiang (2014) similarly contends that strategic human resource management is indeed an effective means with which an organization can augment its operational performance and effectiveness. They posit that effective organizational performance can only be sustained in instances where liner managers are able to closely and positively liaise with the human resource function in instances where strategic organizational decisions are being formulated and implemented. This is in essence what they describe as strategic human resource management. They provide that different cultural contexts and varied disciplinary approaches by scholars of strategic HRM support the need for the SHRM function which positively manages employees’ leading to beneficial operational outcomes within organizations and their external environment.