This edition of the Research and Practice in Human Resource Management Journal explores a series of global pressures for organisational change and transformation, and the role of human resource management (HRM) as a strategic business partner in addressing them. It is perhaps the most significant and more enduring issue faced by the profession. The six articles and two Research Notes contained in this edition approach the issue of change and transformation from a variety of perspectives, adding breadth and depth to the mosaic, but all reflect the common theme that HRM is crucial for effective management, at both organisational and industry levels.
Thus, Hall and Liddicoat discuss the organisational and HRM issues involved in responding to increasing social demand for employee work life balance, by means of an empirical study of the ‘family friendly’ work practices of six New Zealand companies. They suggest that the major challenges include: effective employer employee consultation and communication; and consistent and equitable systems which can be accommodated within existing workloads and productivity levels. This issue is also discussed in Hayman’s Research Note.
From a macro perspective, Siengthai and Bechter emphasise the need for HRM professionals to adopt more strategic roles in response to the adverse effects on Thai industry following the 1997 Asian economic crisis and its aftermath. Subsequent events in Thailand and the Southeast Asian region have only strengthened their argument. In a similar view, Dechawatanapaisal reports the findings of an empirical study in Thailand which explored the effects of several HRM functions (staffing, human resource development, performance management) on organisational learning, concluding that all three are crucial ‘enabling drivers’.
Compton’s article, based on a recent study of performance management systems in Australia, contains both encouraging and discouraging news for HRM professionals. Although there appear to have been some advances towards more strategic approaches to performance management, and more innovative performance appraisal techniques, the degree of application is patchy.
Nelson’s case study of a Tasmanian organisation illustrates the complex issues involved in organisational restructuring and cultural change, whilst the article by Dayaram is further evidence how the change process considerably impacts on those undergoing the transition. There are also two subsequent Research Notes that evaluate the efficacy of instruments designed to measure contexts of change specifically, work life balance on the one hand, and business strategy orientation in China, on the other.
We trust that you find some satisfaction and challenges in the articles in this edition, and invite you to visit our website (http://rphrm.curtin.edu.au). Your feedback is very welcome.