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Question 1A

The best practice approach maintains that there are certain bundles of human resource
activities which support all companies to attain a competitive advantage regardless the
setting of the organisation or the industry in which it operates (Redman and Wilkinson
2009). The best practice models give an implication the practices of the human resources
and performance of organisations and are always associated with a company
management that is highly committed (Paauwe & Boselie 2003). Research in the field of
best practice reveals related groups of HR practices which can be used to maximize
organisational performance irrespective of the market in which an organisation operates
and the products that it deals in (Purcell, 1999). Best practices are classified as mutually
compatible HR practices which result in high levels of workforce competence, encourages
motivation and introduces designs of working capable of boosting the morale of
employees (Allen, Bryant & Vardaman, 2010). Proponents of best practice HR hold that
it can result in high quality levels, high levels of productivity and reduced wastage and
absenteeism (Peffer 1998, Guest 2000).

However, the best practice approach is marred by a host of limitations. In the process of
implementing best work standards, organisations end up running the risk of introducing
combinations which can at best be termed as prohibitive (Boxall, Purcell, Wright, 2007).
Such combinations may entail working in teams and compensation of employees based
on individual employee performance which may translate into a deterioration in the
commitment of employees due to increased unhealthy competition (Daley, 2012).
Besides that, best practice approach requires a higher level of organisational commitment
and a lot of planning. In addition to planning and high management commitment which
strains organisational resources, there is always some disconnect between best practice
and organisational strategies. Best practice approach is normally based on the false
assumption that the outstanding human resources in an organisation can influence the
strategy applied in an organisation (Daley, 2012, Boxall, Purcell, Wright, 2007). An
organisation that relies heavily on best practices may easily replace corporate strategy
with the human resource policy. Such an organisation may be at a risk of coming up with
certain standards that are deemed to fit all the people in an organisation. However, certain
employees may not fit within such standards (Boxall, Purcell, Wright, 2007).

It is difficult to describe the best practice that may work for all the employees in the
organisation. An organisation is normally made up of people from diverse backgrounds.
The diversity of the organisation staff, therefore, makes it extremely difficult to come up
with solutions that can fit all the employees. (Boxall, Purcell, Wright, 2007).

The best-fit approach comes in to question the assumption of universality that is held by
the best practice approach. It puts a lot of emphasis on a good fit between the HR
activities and the organisational stage of development, the link between the internal and
external structure of the organisation which entails things like the clients, competition, the
suppliers and the labor market from which the organisation draws its employees. It
maintains that the alignment of the organisational strategies and the organisational
human resource practices can be instrumental in achieving the needed competitive
advantage. However, the theory also encounters certain criticisms from experts such as
Boxall and Purcell (2003) who hold the view that companies and the strategies that they
adopt are subject to alternating contingencies in the ever changing business environment
which may make it difficult to adjust the HR systems to the new challenges that are
frequently encountered. The treatment of employees changes as the companies move
through their life cycle which forces the HR practices to be realigned. The realignment
may reveal inconsistency in corporate culture and may demotivate employees.

Resource based view theory holds that the methods through which the resources are
applied in a firm could translate into a competitive advantage (Barney 1991). The theory
is based on two main assumptions which are the diversity and the immobility of the
resources. Resource diversity maintains that if a firm owns a resource that is also owned
by several other firms, then that resource cannot create a competitive advantage for the
firm (Lockett, Thompson, & Morgenstern, 2009). Resource immobility, on the other hand,
refers to the difficulty of obtaining the resources (Kraaijenbrink, Spender, & Groen, 2010).
This, therefore, means that it could be very difficult for the competitors to acquire the
resource due to the high cost associated with its development or acquisition (Mata et al.
1995). The resource based view holds that the management of human capital in an
organisation may contribute towards the attainment of competitive advantage through the
creation of specific knowledge, culture, and skills which may not be imitated easily.

The resource based view has been criticized for not explaining how managers can obtain
the strategic resources needed to achieve the needed competitive advantage. The theory
has also been criticized for its inability to be applied in smaller firms (Priem and Butler,
2001) and (Collins, 1994).

The best practice approach cannot, therefore, be applied in organisations. The best fit
and resource best view is enough evidence that there are different strategies that may
work for different organisations. Determining the best practices that may work for all firms
in all contexts may be very difficult. Besides that, the best practice for employees in an
organisation may not necessarily work for the shareholders in an organisation. A mix of
strategies is therefore required depending on the prevailing circumstances in

Question 3B

The Goal setting theory advanced by Edwin Lock in 1960 held that goal setting is linked
to the performance of employees in an organisation (Locke & Latham 2013). The theory
maintains that specific and challenging goals translate into higher and better task
performance by employees. Goals therefore indicate and give direction to employees
concerning what they are expected to do and the efforts that they are required to put in
to achieve the goals (Griffin & Moorhead, 2011). The willingness by employees to work
towards the achievement of goals of an organisation is therefore regarded as the main
source of job motivation. Clear, specific and difficult goals can be greater motivating
factors compared to easy general and vague goals. Specific and clear goals are
associated with better performance (Brown & Harvey, 2011, Griffin & Moorhead, 2011).

Goals that are measurable, clear, and unambiguous and accompanied by clear
completion dates ensures that there is no misunderstanding. Goals that are challenging
and realistic grants individuals some pride and triumph when they are attained and
motivates them to work hard and attain their next goal. However, Goal setting theory relies
on the assumption that an individual is committed to the goal and will always work hard
to attain it (Brown & Harvey, 2011, Griffin & Moorhead, 2011).

However, it must be noted that goals setting theory may only work if goals are open,
known and broadcasted. Besides that, the goals that are set by an individual should be
consistent with the overall goals of the organisation. Moreover, the goals should be set
by the individuals themselves rather than the designated (Griffin & Moorhead, 2011). Goal
setting theory has been criticized in instances where the goals of the organisation conflict
with managerial goals. In such cases, the Goal setting theory results in negative
performance due to its ability to motivate an incompatible action drift. Besides that difficult
and complex goals have been associated with risky behavior. Moreover, the Goal setting
theory has been associated with failure where the employees lack the skills needed to
accomplish the set goals. There is no any known evidence to prove that the goals setting
theory contributes to job satisfaction (Robbins, 2009).

The expectancy theory by Victor Vroom 1964 holds that individuals have different sets of
goals and that individuals can be motivated if they have certain expectations (Chiang &
Jang, (2008). The theory holds that organisations are supposed to relate rewards directly
to the performance of employees. It also maintains that the management should ensure
that the rewards given to employees are deserved by the employees and wanted. Factors
that can contribute to an employees expectation perceptions include the level of
confidence in the skills that are required for the task at hand, the amount of support that
the superiors and subordinates are able to provide, the quality of equipment and materials
and the availability of pertinent information (Robbins, 2009, Chiang & Jang, (2008).

Victor Vroom introduced three elements within the expectancy theory. The three
elements entail expectancy, instrumentality, and valence. Expectancy refers to the belief
by an individual that a particular job performance is attainable. Management must,
therefore, discover the resources, training, or the supervision that is required by the
employees. Instrumentality is the belief that if one performs well, they will be rewarded
(Chiang & Jang, (2008). The reward may be intrinsic or tangible in nature. It could come
in the form of promotion, recognition, pay increase or a sense of accomplishment.
Instrumentality is considered to be low when the reward is granted for all the
performances given (Robbins, 2009). Valence refers to the emotional attachment to
rewards. It refers to the depth of the want for the intrinsic or extrinsic reward. For the
balance to be positive, the individual must prefer the attainment of the outcome to not
attaining the outcome. Managers must, therefore, discover what employees appreciate
(Robbins, 2009, Chiang & Jang, (2008).

The theory has been criticized for omitting the fact that an employee may be motivated
by other factors. Most employees are motivated to do the right thing in an organisation
irrespective of whether they get the reward or not. Failure to account for such a factor
may result in the omission of a vital tool for motivation (Colquitt, Lepine, Wesson, &
Gellatly, 2011). The theory holds that employees work very hard to get a reward. It,
however, misses the fact that employees work so hard to get something in return. The
return may, however, come in a way that is unrelated to what the employees are working
on (Robbins, 2009, Griffin, & Moorhead, 2011).

Like the Goal setting theory, the expectancy theory must be treated with a lot of caution.
It may not be the formula that works in all situations in an organisation. However, there is
no doubt that the two theories may result in increased performance in certain instances.
The two theories as Robbins (2009) hold prove that organisations can increase
performance by motivating employees through setting goals that are clear and
challenging and making use of reward systems that have meaning to employees. The
reward given must be appreciated and wanted by the employees. This, therefore, means
that organisations can make use of the Maslows hierarchy of needs model to understand
the motivational needs of the employees (Colquitt, Lepine, Wesson, & Gellatly, 2011).

Employees at the lower levels of the organisation can be motivated to improve their
performance through extrinsic rewards such as good medical cover, salary increases,
promotions and the assurance of job security through extended contracts (Kompaso &
Sridevi, 2010). Employees at the higher level of the organisation can be motivated by
intrinsic needs. The management can ensure that such employees are recognised for
their accomplishments within the organisation (Colquitt, Lepine, Wesson & Gellatly,
2011). Besides that, such employees can be rewarded with status symbols which
increase their self-esteem thereby motivating them to work hard. Such employees could
also be motivated by challenging tasks and assignments. The accomplishment of such
tasks may result in the accomplishment of the set goals which may further motivate such
employees to work hard (Langley, Moen, Nolan, Nolan, Norman, & Provost, 2009).

Question 4B

Each reward or element of compensation has a behavioral objective and seeks to fulfill
either a physiological or psychological needs. From Mallow's hierarchy of needs,
employees have five needs; physiological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualization
needs (Nohria, Groysberg & Lee 2008). Employers must, therefore, recognise that
employees at the different levels of the hierarchy are motivated by different reward
systems. However, the most important thing as Castilla and Benard (2010) contend is to
ensure that there is fairness in the reward system that is adopted. Concerns by employees
over pay systems, equal recognition and favors from management are among the
leadership challenges that managers have to contend with (Choi, 2011).

Management must understand the laws when coming up with salaries of their employees.
The law holds that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work. Jobs must
not be equal for pay to be identical but the management must ensure that jobs are
substantially equal in terms of effort, skill, and job responsibility and performed under the
same conditions (Cropanzana, Bowen & Gilliland 2007). The leadership of the
organisation must ensure that there is equity in vacation, holidays, overtime, salaries,
bonuses and all other benefits that the employees are entitled to. The leadership of the
organisation must ensure that pay disparity only arises where one employee is more
senior than the other. Proper job evaluation must be done to ensure that related jobs are
grouped together for purposes of ensuring that there is no discrimination in the rewards
that are given to employees (Cropanzana, Bowen & Gilliland 2007, Castilla, 2008).

The leadership of the organisation must also ensure that there is a policy in place that
prohibits wage discrimination. Care must be taken to ensure that the wages and salaries
of employees are not based on their membership to certain protected class. Salaries and
benefits given to employees must be based purely on their position and their level of skill
within the organisation (Daley, 2012).
The leadership of the organisation must also ensure that all the decisions that relate to
raises, bonuses, and promotions are based on skill and performance which are legitimate
and nondiscriminatory and based on merit as opposed to other non-objective factors.
Employers should ensure there are no wage differences between employees based on
race, national origin, sex or any other protected class unless it can justify that such
reasons are legitimate and nondiscriminatory (Castilla, 2008, Chenhall & Langfield-
Smith, 2003).

Proper training as Cropanzana, Bowen & Gilliland (2007) maintains, should be accorded
to the managers and supervisors to ensure that there is no wage discrimination. They
must be trained on how to be objective and how to make a decision on the grounds that
are purely legitimate and nondiscriminatory. Such training ensures that all the
management are competent enough in any decision that they make regarding pay rise,
promotions, bonuses or any form of reward that is given to employees (Williams, itre, &
Zainuba, 2002). They must strive to ensure that rewards given to employees are based
on merit.

Employers must also ensure that their pay practices are frequently audited. This will make
it easier to detect if there are any elements of discriminative pay practices. The employers
must ensure that any differences in pay in their organisations are based on legitimate and
nondiscriminatory grounds and that they can be supported by written documentation
(Choi, 2011).

The employers must ensure that rewards given to employees are based on performance.
The rewards must be based on legitimate criteria and must be in accordance with the
organisation's reward criteria. This can be done by making sure that any rewards given
to the employees are based on proper performance evaluation and not o discriminative
grounds (Daley, 2012).