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BOOK REVIEWS 965

will be useful to researchers. Each chapter's numerous references pro-


vide guides to additional information. The chapter on construct validity
can serve as a refresher for those without a knowledge of psychometrics.
The causal modeling chapter requires more knowledge. The chapters
on curriculum, teaching techniques, and OB applications for consulting
academicians are aimed at business school faculty members. However,
parallel chapters could be written for the core disciplines of OB. The
book, as a whole, seems targeted to business school faculty members.
Practitioners may find other books more useful.

Ronald R. Sims and Serbrenia J. Sims. Changes and Challenges


for the Human Resources Professional. Westport, CT: Quorum
Books, 1994, 272 pages, $59.95.
Reviewed by Alan Clardy, Principal, Advantage Human Resources,
Columbia, MD.
Effective human resources management (HRM) is increasingly rec-
ognized as a source of strategic advantage for organizations in today's
very competitive economic climate. Sims and Sims, working from this
axiom, set as the goal for this book identifying the issues and attendant
challenges that will confront HRM in the years ahead. In regard to this
goal, they are somewhat successful in summarizing the prevailing wis-
dom of the field. However, this judgment is offered with some caution:
The volume suffers from a myopic focus, a redundancy in presentation,
and a nagging presence of debatable claims.
The first two chapters establish the foundation for the more strate-
gic business partner role into which HRM is evolving. In the early days
of industrialization, HRM (then called "Personnel") began in the back-
waters of organizations, operating as a payroll and hiring office. Over
time. Personnel grew in stature and importance, so that by the 1980s,
HRM had moved into senior planning and decision-making circles. The
forces driving this ascendancy were the new trends buffeting organiza-
tions along the entire human resources interface: labor force changes
in demographics and diversity, globalization, tougher competition, the
shift to a service economy, new organizational forms (such as lean or
virtual production systems), and a growing contingent workforce (with
less job securify and company loyalty). HRM became the fulcrum on
which to leverage improved performance and qualify of worklife. In ad-
dition to the traditional HR skills in recruiting, selection, compensation
and benefits, and employee relations, the authors note that new skills are
needed, including how to educate top management in the ways by which
HRM adds value to organizational success.
966 PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY

However, effective HRM can only be as good as the strategic plan on


which it is based, and strategic planning must take into account the in-
ternal and external factors impacting the organization. In the following
chapters, Sims and Sims review seven factors affecting strategic planning
from an HRM viewpoint. Each of these chapters is structured along sim-
ilar lines: a review of the subject (which usually outlines major laws in
the field), challenges presented, organizational responses (which typi-
cally cover what organizations are doing to address the challenges), and
a glimpse of the future.
An increasingly diverse workforce is one key challenge that impacts
virtually all aspects of HRM. The authors review various laws covering
diversity and employment. However, they focus the chapter on the diver-
sity issues impacting the disabled. Experienced HRM professionals will
be frustrated by this narrow focus, by the general bromides offered (such
as: "Evaluation and promotion criteria should be based on job perfor-
mance and job requirements") and by certain questionable claims (such
as: "Many organizations still require separate training for women and
disabled individuals"). On this latter point, no reference or elaboration
is offered for an assertion that most HRM practitioners would regard
skeptically, at best. This set of criticisms can be recycled and applied to
the remaining chapters as well.
Chapter 4 covers employee compensation. Here, the compensation
challenges are aligning pay with business strategy, paying for perfor-
mance through non-traditional programs such as skill-based pay, and
factoring in team performance into payment programs. Chapter 5, on
benefits, acknowledges the pull of family, child/elder care and working
women on benefits offerings. They claim that effective benefits man-
agement will probably be the most important challenge affecting HR
managers in the future.
Chapter 6 covers human resources information systems (HRIS). The
authors offer a primer on terms and concepts in what is otherwise a
disappointing chapter. Workforce training needs (summarized next)
include the usual suspects: service, quality, intercultural, literacy, team
work. Downsizing is examined in Chapter 8, where the reader is advised
to look for alternatives to downsizing prior to cutting staff. The authors
do make a good argument for a rightsizing strategy that reengineers and
adjusts workloads in tandem with staff reductions. Finally (Chapter 9),
ethics in HRM are covered. However, the authors do not articulate a
framework of what "ethics" means and tend to equate legal compliance
with ethical guidance. In the concluding chapter, Sims and Sims repeat
that HRM should play a strategic role, offering various examples of how
this has been done. One of the most satisfying sections of the book is
found here, covering how to evaluate an HRM function.
BOOK REVIEWS 967

There are several basic problems with this volume. The first is the
Sims's list of challenges itself: Why should HRIS be listed as a primary
challenge, for example, when attention to such arguably more important
issues as the future of legislative and regulatory reform, or the problems
of building a committed and productive workforce in a rising sea of con-
tingent workers are not more fully addressed? A second problem is even
more fundamental: The authors have combined two different books into
one. In reading it, I was not sure whether I was reading an introduction
to the fundamentals of HRM or a review of trends impacting HRM. In
terms of the former, the reader would be better advised to simply pick
up a competent introductory text. For the latter, one would be equally
if not better served by the Coates, Jarratt and Mahaffie volume. Future
Work (1990) or by Bridges'/ofe Shift (1994). Third, the authors tend to
repeat information, so that one reads this book with a continuing sense of
dijh. vu. Better editing should have caught this problem. Finally, there
are a number of difficult, if not dubious, assertions sprinkled throughout
the text. The example offered earlier about separate training for women
and disabled people is but one of a chain of 10 or so question marks I
found threaded through the text.
The HRM professional will find less that is new but more that is to
quibble about in this volume. Students starting out may benefit from the
introduction to HRM provided but would be counseled to shop around
a bit before putting their $60 down here.

REFERENCES
Coates JF, Jarratt J, Mahaffie JB. (1990). Future work. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Bridges W. (1994). Job shift. New York: Addison-Wesley.

George Henderson. Cultural Diversity in the Workplace:


Issues and Strategies. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 1994, 288
pages, $65.00 hardcover, $19.95 softcover.
Reviewed hy Alan Auerbach, Associate Professor, Wlfrid Laurier Uni-
versity, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
Personnel diversity in the workplace is itself a diverse topic that pro-
vides lots of work for employers, social scientists, lawmakers, and politi-
cians. That's partly because of the many conflicting pressures on employ-
ers. They must obey the letter and spirit of applicable federal and state
(or provincial) laws, all the while selecting for the requisite skills. They
also have to respond appropriately to prevailing local social customs.
And their workforce should create a positive climate for non-traditional
employees.