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What is the Role of the HR Function in Irish Industry today? A view from the HR Professional.

Fitzgerald, Helen (2006) What is the Role of the HR Function in Irish Industry today? A view from the HR Professional. Masters thesis, Dublin, National College of Ireland.

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Although the work of Huselid (1995) provides some evidence of a positive link between what he calls 'bundles' of HR practices and organisational performance, there appears to be limited evidence overall showing HR's contribution to the bottom line. The Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) 2003 Benchmarking Report found that only 22% of Irish organisations were satisfied with the influence that HR exercised on their business strategy. IBEC's (2004) Human Resources Management. Survey noted that 66% of organisations had a defined HR strategy, however only 40% of those were written and formal. The results of these surveys led to a number of questions which the author wished to examine regarding the role of the HR function in Irish industry today.

A review of the literature highlighted a number of uncertainties facing the HR function in terms of confidence, identity and direction (Torrington, 1998). It showed that the 1990's were a decade where the role of HRM was reappraised by many organisations. It also highlighted that the strategic importance of HRM requires the attention of the chief executive and senior management team as an organisation strives for competitive advantage. The author in undertaking this research is seeking to gain an insight into the role of a HR professional in Irish industry today. An insight into how that role has changed from the welfare role of the 1940s and 1950s where it was mainly to be found in organisations which had their roots in the Quaker tradition? Has the HR professional in Irish organisations evolved in the roles outlined by Ulrich and Brockbank (2005) of a human capital developer, employee advocate, strategic partner, functional expert and HR leader? In carrying out this research a number of senior HR professionals were interviewed from a wide range of sectors from retail to pharmaceutical to food and drink.

The findings of the research were analysed and a comparison drawn between the findings and the literature, a comparison of the 'rhetoric and the reality'. The findings of the research highlighted that all of the organisations interviewed had HR representation at the senior level management team. Only 50% of the organisations had a formal written HR strategy but in all cases HR plans were very much driven by business needs. The findings also explored the current role of the HR function and the challenges faced going forward. The HR function of the future will face the challenge ensuring the financial requirements of the organisation are met and while preserving the psychological contract and being in a position to retain a highly motivated and committed workforce in order to ensure that the organisation maintains a competitive advantage.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > Human Resource Management
Divisions: School of Business > Master of Arts in Human Resource Management
Depositing User: Timothy Lawless
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2010 11:32
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2014 07:03

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