Human Resource Management

HRM Guide Updates


Drastic and Incremental Change

Based on Human Resource Management (4th Edition) by Alan Price - published by Cengage


As we observed earlier, focusing on core activities and disposing of others has become particularly fashionable. In some cases, businesses have decided that management control and shareholder value are best served by a demerger. More commonly, shrinkage involves reducing the number of employees or downsizing - a term coined by journalists according to Baumol et al. (2003) - although this has largely been confined to the manufacturing sector. In either case, HR managers are involved with communicating the change, conducting union negotiations and arranging redundancies or redeployment. For example, faced with a dramatic change in the nature of the music industry, EMI was forced to slim its workforce, but attempt to retain key employees and its quality employer brand. (More on page 291 of Human Resource Management (Price, 2011)

Incremental change

In the 1960's and 1970's, change often came under the label of organizational development (OD), relying on a methodology described as Action Research . This was an undramatic - but effective - long-term change process based on incremental improvements, effectively on a continuous flow of emergent strategies. With the advent of modern change programmes such as business processing re-engineering (BPR), this low-risk and long-term approach has gone out of fashion. (...) (More on page 294 of Human Resource Management (Price, 2011)

Competitive pressures often demand a faster, more dramatic process than action research. Many modern managers would question whether their organization had the time required. More pertinently, we can ask if ambitious executives on short-term contracts have enough time to make their mark with such a slow methodology. It is likely that a glossier and more public method will be better appreciated. This is provided by packaged, or 'off-the-shelf', approaches, which begin with top management and are cascaded down the organization. They are normally dramatized, with considerable emphasis on communication and a spotlight placed on the lead personality. (...)

Business process re-engineering (BPR)

Re-engineering is a methodology of the late 20th century that has inspired many change strategies. The Technique was first publicized by Hammer (1990) in a Harvard Business Review article entitled 'Re-engineering work: do't automate, obliterate'. In typical guru fashion he outlined amazing benefits in a range of companies, proclaiming the existence of seven fundamental principles of re-engineering:

  • Organize around outcomes, not tasks.
  • Those who use the output should perform the process.
  • Information processing work should be subsumed into the real work that produces the information.
  • Geographically dispersed resources should be used as though they were centralized.
  • Link parallel activities instead of integrating tasks.
  • Decisions should be taken where work is performed and control built into the process.
  • Information should only be captured once - at source.

Generally, BPR is simultaneously presented as an empowering programme, with fine rhetoric about teamworking, multi-skilling and flattened hierarchies, and as a top-down exercise demanding (as ever) commitment from senior executives! In a study of post-BPR work in the Singapore Internal Revenue Service it was found that processes had been so tightly prescribed that there was there was no room for employees to exercise the empowerment they had been granted (Sia and Neo, 2008).

  Change strategies

  Strategic Alliances and Behavioural Transformation

HRM Textbooks

Human Resource Management

Human Resource Management, 4th edition
by Alan Price
 Covers all the key aspects of HRM. Available from: - UK pounds - Euros - Euros - Euros - US dollars - Can dollars

Fundamentals of Human Resource Management

Fundamentals of Human Resource Management
 Shortened version of Human Resource Management - concise analysis for non-specialists and one-semester courses.
More information and prices from: - UK pounds - Euros - Euros - Euros - US dollars - Can dollars

HRM Guide makes minimal use of cookies, including some placed to facilitate features such as Google Search. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to the use of cookies. Learn more here

HRM Guide Updates
Custom Search
  Contact  HRM Guide Privacy Policy
Copyright © 1997-2019 Alan Price and HRM Guide Network contributors. All rights reserved.