Over the last decade human resource management (HRM) professionals and researchers alike have been keen to uncover evidence of relationships between single (or multiple) HRM functions. These linkages impact organisational effectiveness in ways which are narrowly reflected in terms of sales, profitability and competitiveness; or more broadly, with respect to employee productivity, the quality of products and services, and staff retention. Such demonstrated relationships are the essence of strategic human resource management (SHRM), generally expressed as vertical alignment. Research evidence to date has been both patchy, and generally, confined to Western business contexts.

We are, therefore, very pleased to provide readers of the journal with a series of papers which explore the contributions of a range of HRM functions to organisational effectiveness within an Asian business environment. The HRM functions discussed include diversity management, human resource development, employee motivation, leadership, and management development, as applied in the manufacturing, hotel, banking, electronics, and government sectors of five emerging Asian nations (Vietnam, Taiwan, Pakistan, Thailand, India) and one middle Eastern state (Bahrain).

Thus, Pillai, Prasad and Thomas provide an insightful (if somewhat dispiriting) perspective on the progress of women into senior positions in Bahrain organisations, whilst, the paper by Thang and Quang reflects more positively on the links between training and firm performance in Vietnam. Chen and Wallace, similarly, explore the consequences of multiskilling initiatives on frontline managers in Taiwanese hotels, with mixed results.

Whilst these studies provide generally encouraging evidence to support the vertical alignment of HRM and organisational strategies and processes, the following papers are less positive. Qayyum, Sukirno and Mahmood, for example, suggest that the majority of the usual employee motivators are ‘not available’ to bank staff in Pakistan, and that, therefore, the opportunities to link them to organisational effectiveness are not being fully exploited.

In the final paper, Sunthonkanokpong, Jitgarun and Chaokumnerd, report that competency development is neither well understood nor effectively implemented in the Thai electronics industry.

The Research Note (to a degree) overall confirms the complexities that haveto be embraced by research in cross national context when they investigated a Western instrument in an Eastern context utilising principal component analysis as its focus.

Overall, this edition of the journal contributes to HRM research and professional practice by presenting both positive and challenging research findings on the links between HRM functions and organisational effectiveness in a broad range of industry settings and Asian contexts. We hope that you will enjoy this issue of RPHRM.

Dr Alan Nankervis
Dr Cecil Pearson
June 2011