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Alfred Anate Mayaki

Predicting Dysfunctional Presenteeism: The Value of Bayesian Inference and Cognitive Load Theory

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Fox, Park and Lang (2007) famously wrote about secondary task reaction times (STRTs) in the context of psychology and communications - a sector I'm very familiar with. In the intervening period, further studies have been conducted on the workplace learning environment as a contextualised example of STRT research (Sewell, Santhosh, and O’Sullivan, 2020). Now, according to Kinman and Grant (2021), there is an estimated cost of approximately £4,000 per UK employee lost due to time spent at work whilst being clinically unwell (Patel, et. al., 2023). This is also known as what we refer to as presenteeism. This blog post hypothesizes that a highly significant correlated relationship exists between low STRTs and a type of presenteeism known as therapeutic presence. In my blog, I build on this theme of research by suggesting that it may be possible to alleviate the 'sunk' cost of low productivity in work which is lost due to the inefficiencies of working while being unproductive. I assume we have access to quality data, which isn't always the case. The blog considers the use of Bayesian inference to predict therapeutic presence (or what many refer to as ‘dysfunctional presenteeism’). 

What is ‘Dysfunctional’ Presenteeism?

Dysfunctional presenteeism can be defined as a type of presenteeism which can occur when an employee remains actively at work despite being clinically unwell (Bryan, Bryce, and Roberts, 2022; Henderson, and Smith, 2022). What we know about presenteeism is very little, particularly in instances of remote work (Schmitz, Bauer, and Niehaus, 2023). Dysfunctional presenteeism can vary in motive and context, but a recent survey estimated that UK employees spend roughly 2 weeks per annum actively working whilst being clinically unwell, which is quite a significant amount of time. Notably, what I have learned today is that presenteeism is frequently framed through the lens of ‘surface acting’ (Correia Leal, et. al., 2023; Patel, et. al., 2023:842).

STRTs and Cognitive Load Theory

How does STRT fit in to this? Well, my thinking is that low secondary responses are a clear indicator of the risk of presenteeism at work. Now, although the predominant focus of much of the literature on cognitive load emerges as research that is based on secondary task responses (Lang, et. al., 2006, Sewell, Santhosh, and O’Sullivan, 2020:1133), the significance of STRTs to cognitive load is insurmountable. As with Lang et. al., 2006:370), we know that when participants perform primary and secondary tasks within what we refer to as the STRT ‘paradigm’, the primary and secondary tasks are clearly defined[1].

Applying Bayes’ Theorem on Inference

Woolridge (2013) and as demonstrated recently in a paper by Saramago and Claxton (2020). Currently working on this in an essay.

Predictive Analytics in the Workplace

Now, Analytics is not necessarily ethical, especially when applied based on Ford’s principles. It is seemingly often pitted against the self-governance of employees by their peers[2], Analytics through surveillance is thus touted as the means of managerial control least appropriate for the digital age. In one instance, the UK's Low Carbon Contracts Company and the Electricity Settlement Company, a publicly owned renewable energy intermediary owned by the Secretary of State for Business, demonstrate through its management organizational chart, a distinctively unique feature (See Appendix Figure 1). Data Analytics is housed separately from People and Strategy. What does this tell us?

Conclusion

With quality data on both the threshold of secondary tasks and length of productive work for individual workers, this blog suggests that statistical inference techniques such as those based on Bayesian estimation, can predict the reduced work productivity of an individual employee (who may or may not be working remotely) instances of increased levels of stress, cognitive overload and eventual presenteeism?

[1] In this context, primary tasks involve the simultaneous observation and recollection of a media source such as television or film, whilst the secondary task involves a recordable activity. The idea is (the hypothesis, so to speak) that response times for the second task reduce as the primary task increases in difficulty (Lang, et.al., 2006).

[2] Including approaches such as self-evaluation of work performance.

References

1.     Byran, M. L., Bryce, A. M. and Roberts, J. (2022) “Dysfunctional presenteeism: Effects of physical and mental health on work performance”, The Manchester School, 90(4), pp. 409-438 – Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/manc.12402 (Accessed on 23 November 2023)

2.     Correia Leal, C., Ferreria, A. I. and Carvalho, H. (2023) “Hide your sickness and put on a happy face: The effects of supervision distrust, surface acting, and sickness surface acting on hotel employees’ emotional exhaustion”, Journal of Organisational Behaviour, 44(1), pp. 871-887 – Available at https://doi.org/10.1002/job.2676 (Accessed on 27 February 2023)

3.     Fox, J. R., Park, B., and Lang, A. (2007) “When Available Resources Become Negative Resources: The Effects of Cognitive Overload on Memory Sensitivity and Criterion Bias”, Communication Research, 34(3), pp. 277-296. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650207300429 (Accessed on 23 February 2024)

4.     Henderson, A.A. and Smith, C.E. (2022) “When does presenteeism harm productivity the most? Employee motives as a key moderator of the presenteeism–productivity relationship,” Journal of Managerial Psychology, 37(6), pp. 513–526. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1108/JMP-08-2020-0446 (Accessed on 26 February 2024)

5.     Kinman, G. and Clements, A. J. (2023) “Presenteeism: the case or action”, Occupational Medicine, 73(4), pp. 181-182 – Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqad033 (Accessed on 26 February 2024)

6.     Kinman, G. and Grant, C. (2021) “Presenteeism during the COVID-19 pandemic: Risk factors and solutions for employers”, Society of Occupational Medicine, Available at: https://www.som.org.uk/Presenteeism_during_the_COVID-19_pandemic_May_2021.pdf (Accessed on 26 February 2024)

7.     Lang, A., Bradley, S. D., Park, B., Shin, M. and Chung, Y. (2006) “Parsing the Resource Pie: Using STRTs to Measure Attention to Mediated Messages”, Media Psychology, 8, pp. 369-394 – Available at: https://doi-org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/10.1207/s1532785xmep0804_3 (Accessed on 26 February 2024)

8.     Patel, C., Biron, M., Sir Cooper, C. and Budhwar, P. S. (2023) “Sick and Working: Current challenges and emerging directions for future presenteeism research”, Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 44(1), pp. 839-852 – Available at https://doi.org/10.1002/job.2727 (Accessed on 27 February)

9.     Saramago, P., Claxton, K., Welton, N. J. and Soares, M. (2020) “Bayesian econometric modelling of observational data for cost‐effectiveness analysis: establishing the value of negative pressure wound therapy in the healing of open surgical wounds,” Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A, Statistics in society, 183(4), pp. 1575–1593. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/rssa.12596 (Accessed on 27 February)

10.   Schmitz, H., Bauer, J. F. and Niehaus, M. (2023). Working Anytime and Anywhere - Even When Feeling Ill? A Cross-sectional Study on Presenteeism in Remote Work. Safety and Health at Work14(4), 375–383 – Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.shaw.2023.11.001 (Accessed on 26 February 2024)

11.   Sewell, J.L., Santhosh, L. and O’Sullivan, P.S. (2020) “How do attending physicians describe cognitive overload among their workplace learners?” Medical education, 54(12), pp. 1129-. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/medu.14289 (Accessed on 26 February 2024)

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by the author's previous learnings and experiences.


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Art and Knowing in IHRM - Professor Jaime Bonache

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Friday, 9 Feb 2024, 12:09
Had a meeting recently that reminded me about the value of this amazingly insightful webinar by Prof. Bonache, based on Foucault's first chapter in the book: The Order of Things, which he refers to as the classical interpretation of Valezquez's Las Meninas. It is well worth the watch for anyone studying or in the field of HR research.


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Exploring Democratic Approaches to Leadership and Management

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Sunday, 4 Feb 2024, 16:11

According to Dr. Teresa Bejan of Oxford’s Department of International Relations, in Ancient Greek democracy, Isegoria (Bejan, 2017is often used to describe the equal rights of citizens to participate in public debate in the democratic assembly. Why is the concept of Isegoria important to an HR academic? It is important because it is a critical attribute in democratic forms of leadership. Furthermore, in what Revd. Dr. William Lamb (2021) also of Oxford University refers to as a ‘spiritual exercise’ as opposed to a ‘rhetorical device’ another form of free speech is mentioned. Parrhesia or ‘expressive freedom’ is witnessed most visibly during Jesus's spoken interaction with the Pharisees and Sadducees in the Gospel according to Matthew. How does this famous instance affect our view of democratic forms of leadership?

In the words of Collinson et. al (2018), where the Raelinian notion of Leadership-as-Practice (L-A-P) or ‘Leaderful’ practice is referenced to define the norms of ‘democratic tradition’ as enshrined and embedded in practice, or demokratia per se[1], Collinson explains that Raelin is referring to ‘participatory’ and ‘deliberative’ process. In this view, leadership is democratic and "holds an inherently positive connotation associated with certain democratic norms of equality and freedom to participate”. These are the 4C’s that constitute Raelin’s model of L-A-P: Compassion, Collaboration, Collectiveness and Concurrency.

What we refer to as leadership, in theory, can be impacted in a variety of ways by team dynamics. According to a 2023 article published online by management consultancy firm, Bain & Company, entitled, “At the Top, It’s All About Teamwork”, there is a notion that “effective teams” exhibit what the article refers to as ‘collective behaviours. As an example of the application of this form of leadership to teamwork, Benjamin Higgens, MD of Human Resources at Société Générale Group, one of France’s largest corporate and investment banking institutions by AUM, featured in a 2023 article published by The People Space, demonstrating how the bank’s collaboration with a leading workplace culture and behaviour consultancy led to a 'participatory engagement' which included 89% of its current workforce in London. 

The article demonstrates how through authentic inclusion, potential agents of change, senior leaders, and other employees, were able to acquire knowledge on effective decision-making and behaviours. How does this link back to the democratic concepts of Isegoria and Parrhesia? I may go into that linkage in more depth later in another Open blog. But for now, I thought I'd share these references and articles on the topic as a formal introduction.

References

1.       Bejan, T. M. (2017) ‘Dr Teresa Bejan writes about the two clashing meanings of freedom of speech‘, University of Oxford – Available at https://www.politics.ox.ac.uk/news/dr-teresa-bejan-writes-about-two-clashing-meanings-free-speech (Accessed on 26 January 2024)

2.       Collinson, D., Jones, O. S. and Grint, K. (2018) ''No More Heroes’: Critical Theories on Leadership Romanticism’, Organisational Studies, 39(11). pp. 1625-1647 [Online] (Accessed on 26 January 2024)

3.       Foucault, M. (1983) ‘Lecture 6: Discourse and Truth: The Problemitization of Parrhesia’, University of California at Berkeley

4.       Gan, X., Jia, J., and Le, Y. (2023) ‘Transforming Vertical Leadership into Shared Leadership in Infrastructure Project Teams: A Dual-Pathway Perspective’, Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management [Online] (Accessed on 26 January 2024)

5.       Raelin, J. A. (2003) ‘Creating Leaderful Organisations: How to bring out leadership in everyone‘, Berret Koehler Publishers [Online] (Accessed on 26 January 2024)

6.       Revd. Lamb, W. (2021) ‘Parrhesia, Openness, Boldness and Accountability’, Vacation Term for Biblical Studies 2021 [Online] (Accessed on 26 January 2024)

7.       Womack, K. (2020) ‘A Study of Leaderful Practice in Church Organizations’, University of New Hampshire Scholar’s Repository – Available via https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1052&context=ms_leadership (Accessed on 26 January 2024)


[1] 'Demokratia' is the Grecian concept analogous to modern Western democracy

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by an Organisational Studies article written by Collinson et.al. (2018) entitled 'No More Heroes’: Critical Theories on Leadership Romanticism

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Concerning Sustainable HRM, Ethics and Stakeholder Theory

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Sunday, 3 Dec 2023, 08:32

Annotating a moderately cited but relevant paper on the above topic by Greenwood and Freeman (2011), the authors point to HRM research as being seen increasingly through the lens of positivism. Positivism encompasses scientific methods of research that are underpinned predominantly by what is quantifiable and what is more measurable. These research approaches are what Greenwood and Freeman refer to as the prevailing epistemological, and theoretical context through which HRM is characterised (2011:271) and a lens which it is consistently framed through, primarily as “explicitly normative”. Furthermore, Dieronitou (2014) argues that the consequences here are that HRM’s positivist approach is “top-down” (in terms of knowledge creation) and “deductive in nature” (2014:6). By top-down, the author implies an emphasis on “ontology” which is prioritised in the author's figurative research “hierarchy” at the expense of what Dieronitou (2014) refers to as research "methodology”. 

HRM is seen by many as both normative and positivist. Positivist frameworks have however been linked to ethics, both in financial ethics (Aragon, 2010) and more so contemporarily through contributions to stakeholder theory and HRM (Greenwood, 2002).

Stakeholder theory when compared by Greenwood and Freeman (2011) to the pluralist industrial relations school (2011:275), is said to have grown in eminence in recent years, which is true. As Ferrary, (2009) argues, HR’s stakeholders are “parties” who possess “resources” that are required by the organisation to exist. Ferrary writes, “the framework of stakeholder analysis enables escape from a purely instrumental approach to HRM and avoids reducing our understanding of conflicts within companies to mere antagonism between employees and employers” (2009:31). It should be noted that Ferrary later cites Durkheim’s century-old text on value creation in the context of organisational studies.

Lastly, I will end on this revelation. In the paragraph entitled “Sustainable HRM: Is it a potential solution?” the CIPD (2019) according to a factsheet defines sustainable HRM as an ethical form of practice and delivery focused overarchingly on internal relationships, employee development, and cooperation. The author argues that sustainable HRM “recognises performance outcomes, that are broader than financial outcomes”. The CIPD’s eleven bullet point definition in this factsheet is surely a small make-peace to what may be a widespread belief that the normative and positivist approaches to HRM research in the literature are pervasive.

Enjoy your weekends.

References

1.     Aragon, G. A. (2010) ‘Normative and Positive Approaches to Financial Ethics’, in Financial Ethics. [Online]. United States: Oxford University Press

2.     Dieronitou, I. (2014) “The Ontological and Epistemological Foundations of Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches to Research”, International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management, 2(10), pp. 1-17

3.     Ferrary, M. (2009) “A Stakeholder’s perspective on Human Resource Management”, Journal of Business Ethics, 87(1), pp. 31-43 [Online] Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/40294903

4.     Greenwood, M. R. (2002) “Ethics and HRM: A Review and Conceptual Analysis”, Journal of Business Ethics. [Online] 36(3), pp. 261–278

5.     Greenwood, M. and Freeman, R. E. (2011) “Ethics and HRM: The Contribution of Stakeholder Theory”, Business & Professional Ethics Journal, 30(3/4), pp. 269-292

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by the work of the CIPD's Ed Houghton (2019) in a factsheet entitled "Sustainable HR: A 'green' fad, or a realistic model for change?"


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Notes on Public Value and Selective Hiring

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Friday, 1 Dec 2023, 08:49

As a postgraduate on the MSc in HRM at the Open University Business School, in a 2-part blog post, I took the liberty to summarise the basic premise of EBP with respect to Gifford’s hierarchy and the four types of evidence (Open University 1a, 2023). In my summary of Gifford’s hierarchy, I also critiqued the perspective of academic and practitioner involvement in EBP citing the work of Dr. Carol Gill, an Associate Professor of HRM at Melbourne Business School. In speaking with Dr. Gill, whose work on evidence-based knowledge and management outlines various flaws in practitioner involvement, I was interested to observe the pluralist[1] foundations in existence with respect to HRM.

Because HR’s function is primarily non-client facing, in other words, because its role is fundamentally to operationalise other departments in a manner that optimises outlay and adds value, there are added pressures internally to continuously improve[2]its core offering as a budgeted expense. The setting for this pressure is increasingly a contested showdown between staunch advocates and unwary dissenters to the implementation of EBP. The pluralist debate concerning HR’s value in this respect is principled upon the idea that both quantitative and qualitative research practices can only denigrate HR’s value (Hughes and Hughes, et. al. 2021).

Now, the case for implementing EBP into people management is a relatively recent one, so much so that as recently as October this year an online article was published in People Management (Elder and Nikodem, 2023) which agrees with my blog post on Gill (1998) and her work concerning this thing called an awareness deficit. Elder and Nikodem (2023) state, “there is [perhaps] less awareness of academic evidence” that supports the argument in favour of implementation into HR, stating this lack exists with respect to employee empowerment programs and unconscious bias training initiatives. It should be noted that a perceived lack of awareness is one of the central arguments put forward by Gill (1998).

Discovering the CIPD Professional Map and the value of selective hiring

Vandenabeele and co-authors (2013) build on the work of Moore (1995) who writes on the topic of creating value in the public sector. Their paper states that the concept of strategy as it relates to HRM should be conceptualised more robustly than Moore’s case-study orientation. In the work of Moore, he essentially argues for something referred to as “public-sector production” (1995:53) which Moore explains is a type of public value that is not associated with a “physical good” or “consumed service” but rather created in the mind of the public executive to improve the lives of “particular clients and beneficiaries”. To implement this, Moore notes, in the case of strategic implementation[3] in diversified conglomerates, that because of a nuanced business context, key personnel could develop into, what he calls a “strategic asset” (1995:68).

How does this extract from Moore relate to evidence-based practice and recruitment? Well, firstly, Moore is resonated by Leisink and Steijn (2008) who regard “selective hiring” as part of a bundle of best HR practices (2008:118). Secondly, it supports the case for selective hiring, which is regarded by several labour economists as the artistic translation for Pissarides (2000) and his search and matching formulae (Merkl and van Rens, 2019). Vandenabeele et. al. (2013) point out in their paper what Moore fails to achieve; to define a structural framework that outlines the findings of his extensive study for application in the conglomerate context. Regarding the strategic advantage of key personnel in a conglomerate, the work of Vandenabeele and co-authors is resolved by the CIPD Profession Map (Elder and Nikodem, 2023). The Professional Map sets out what the CIPD call the “international benchmark”.

References

1.     Elder, S.R. and Nikodem, M. (2023) “Considering the application and relevance of evidence-based HR”, People Management, Available at: https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/article/1845833/considering-application-relevance-evidence-based-hr [Online] (Accessed on 30 November 2023)

2.     Gill, C. (1998) “Don’t know, don’t care: An exploration of evidence-based knowledge and practice in human resource management”, Human Resource Management Review, 28(2), pp. 013-115

3.     Hughes, J., Hughes, K., Sykes, G., Wright, K. (2021) “Moving from what data are to what researchers do with them: a response to Martyn Hammersley”, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 24(3), pp. 399-400

4.     Learmonth, M. (2008) “Speaking Out: Evidence-Based Management: A Backlash Against Pluralism in Organisational Studies?”, Organization, 15(2), pp. 283-291

5.     Leisink, P. and Steijn, B. (2008) “Recruitment, Attraction and Selection”, chapter in Perry, J. and Hondeghem, A. (eds) ‘Motivation in Public Management: Call of Public Service’, Norfolk: Oxford University Press

6.     Malloch, H. (1997) Strategic and HRM Aspects of Kaizen: A Case Study. New Technology, Work, and Employment. [Online] 12 (2), pp. 108–122.

7.     Merkl, C. and van Rens, T. (2019) “Selective Hiring and Welfare Analysis in Labour Market Models”, Labour Economics, 57(1), pp.117-130

8.     Moore, M. H. (1995) ‘Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government’, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press

9.     Open University 1a (2023) “Gifford’s Hierarchy and Carol Gill on the “Knowing and Belief” Gap”, [Online] Available at https://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/viewpost.php?post=279019 (Accessed on 24 November 2023)

10.  Pfeffer, J. and Sutton, R. I. (2006) ‘Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management’, Cambridge: Harvard Business School Press

11.  Pissarides, C. (2000) ‘Equilibrium Unemployment Theory’, Second Edition, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press

12.  Vandenabeele, W., Leisink, P. and Knies, E. (2013) ‘Public value cation and strategic human resource management: public service motivation as a linking mechanism’, chapter in Leisink, P., Boslie, P., van Bottenburg, M. and Marie Hosking, D. ‘Managing Social Issues: A Public Values Perspective’, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 37 – 54 [Online] Available at: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781781006962.00010 (Accessed on 30 November 2023)



[1] Here, practitioners should be weary of what some are calling “evidence-based misbehaviour” (Learmonth, 2008) that is, insubordination with good intentions (Pfeffer and Sutton, 2006).

[2] This has been studied extensively in the UK and can be attributed directly to the Japanese management concept known as Kaizen (Malloch, 1997) which has brought forth the modern principles of Lean and Six Sigma as applied to Human Resource Management. One of the most important of these principles is of course, ‘improvement’.

[3] There is also a compelling case for operative implementation.

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by a book by Mark H. Moore entitled "Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government"

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Ulrich’s Model of HR and Alison Barber on Extensive Search

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Tuesday, 28 Nov 2023, 17:57

Have a look at Ulrich’s model of HR (see Fig 1.3). Now, even with a background in what we tend to bracket as the subject of ‘business strategy’ in the business school world, I used to be somewhat bewildered by the account of Ted Bauer on X (formerly known as Twitter). Bauer stipulated this satirical yet seemingly quasi-amusing observation that ‘strategy’ itself as a word is such a powerfully convoluted term, that it has no place in HR let alone in a recruitment operations context. I always used to reject the opinion (Ted and I were mutual followers) put forward in his often lengthy journalistic articles until one day I decided to part ways and unfollow the account. Now, a few years later, as part of the B810 class of 2023/24, the team behind the module has been speaking with us for some time now about the very real possibility of HR evolving into a business function that conducts high-level strategy in the wake of the emergence of AI in functions such as recruitment. Now, we’re not just talking about a bunch of flashy, dashboard-waving, posh-sounding recruitment advisers who re-train as strategy consultants and flood you with insights about organisational data, I mean to speak of real trustworthy strategy.

Ulrich’s quadrant is amazing for several reasons, but the main reason for me is that it provides context. The organisational settings in which these roles play out are just as important as the roles themselves. I’ve become particularly fond of Ulrich’s three-legged stool, which is essentially the canvas to his entire work of art.


Figure 1.3: Ulrich's Human Resource Champions: The Next Agenda

Strategic Partner

Change Agent

Administrative Expert

Employee Champion

Source: Ulrich (1997)


At the moment, I am currently reading the work of Alison E. Barber. Barber (1998) draws attention to two important actors, and their activities, that are integral to the performance of recruitment’s function, namely, the role of internal and external organisational agents in this respect, both in terms of attracting and matching high-quality skillsets to the organisation (1998:8). Selection is seen as different to recruitment by Barber, but particularly, suppositions are made on the point of recruitment strategy. Barber states in reference to the concept of extensive search in recruitment that, “…actions taken during this stage of recruitment [extensive search] can also be related to post-hire outcomes such as performance and turnover” (1998:18). Barber argues in favour of this in the context of Ulrich’s wider proposals on the strategic involvement of HR, which she mentions in passing in the introduction.

Fascinating insights.


References

1.     Barber, A.E. (1998) ‘Recruiting Employees: Individual and Organizational Perspectives’, SAGE Publications, Incorporated, Thousand Oaks. Available from: ProQuest e-book Central. [28 November 2023].

2.     Ulrich, D. (1997) ‘Human resource champions: The next agenda for adding value and delivering results’. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing [28 November 2023].


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Gifford's Hierarchy and Carol Gill on the "Knowing and Belief" Gap

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Friday, 24 Nov 2023, 05:25

Explaining Evidence-Based Practice in People Management

The academic literature on evidence-based practice is seemingly split into two distinct yet important themes of research. These themes are 1) real-world studies that apply evidence-based methods and 2) what we will call the theory and critique of evidence-based knowledge, and management, indeed as their own nascent domains. As we will now come to see, and as Barends, Rousseau, and Briner (2014) explain, the fundamentals of evidence-based practice can be simply described as the “conscientious”, “explicit” and “judicious” use of the best available evidence from multiple sources by Asking, Acquiring, Appraising, Aggregating, Applying, and Assessing to increase the likelihood of what Briner (2019) calls a "favourable outcome". 

The six A's he cites can be elaborated as follows:

  1. Asking: involves converting real-world circumstances into answerable questions
  2. Acquiring: involves systematically gathering evidence to answer such questions
  3. Appraising: involves thinking critically about the trustworthiness of the evidence
  4. Aggregating: involves pulling together the best bits from each source of data
  5. Applying: involves deriving a decision-making process using the evidence selected
  6. Assessing: involves evaluating the outcome of the decision taken

Source: Briner (2019)

There are generally also 4 types of evidence:

Figure 1.1: Types of Evidence

Scientific

Organisational

Experiential

Stakeholder

The findings of published academic research

Data we own ourselves as an organisation

Evidence generated through experience (with practitioners)

Valuable inputs and concerns from stakeholder groups

 Source: Barends, Rousseau and Briner (2014) 

1.2: The Hierarchy of Evidence

Evidence-Based Practice

Source: Gifford (2016)

Carol Gill's Critique of Evidence-Based Practice in Human Resource Management (HRM)

We already know that evidence-based practice in HRM is a contested territory, but the question is, do HR practitioners and academics alike understand why there is this contested arena? 

Gill (2018:103) suggests three perspectives for understanding this question. 

The first perspective is what Gill calls a lack of awareness of such a duality. In essence, here, Gill describes a situation where there are “sides” who “care” or in this case, who may not care, about the interests of the other. Gill illustrates this through evidence-based practices such as high-performance work. Generally speaking, in the view of Gill, the two “sides” are pitted against one another. Here, HRM ultimately to its own detriment, suffers from an awareness deficit that engulfs the empirical research side and the real-world practice side, respectively.

Practitioners are labeled “Machiavellian” in their intent to avoid research, which leads to the second perspective: a lack of belief from both sides or what Gill calls a “knowing and belief gap”. Gill (2018:112) states using the research content on university courses as an example, that evidence-based practice is often vacuous once students depart from university courses in HRM, which leaves practitioners vulnerable to “unreliable” sources of information further permeated by a great divide between these two respective “sides” (academics and practitioners). Gill then reiterates in proposition 1a that precariously unfavourable “attitudes” are formed from managerial beliefs about a lack of evidence-based knowledge.

The third perspective that defines Gill’s critique of evidence-based practice is what, in the backdrop of a decline in managerialism, is known through her paper as a lack of implementation. Throughout the paper, the author proposes an abbreviation known as “HPWP” otherwise known as ‘high-performance work practices. These work practices are what the Institute of Directors (2023) in a recent article published in August concedes can be a “challenging and complex process” to implement. Gill’s findings are that lack of implementation occurs once again because of a lack of belief in the link between investment in human resources and “financial performance”. Here, evidence-based knowledge must compete with what one paper interprets as its role as the organisation’s “handmaiden of efficiency”.

References

1.     Barens, E. Rousseau, D.M. and Briner, R.B. (2014) ‘Evidence-Based Management: The Basic Principles’, Amsterdam: Centre for Evidence-Based Management – Available at https://cebma.org/assets/Uploads/Evidence-Based-Practice-The-Basic-Principles.pdf (Accessed 24 November 2023)

2.     Briner, R.B. (2019) ‘The Basics of Evidence-Based Practice‘, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)  - Available at: https://www.shrm.org/executive/resources/people-strategy-journal/winter2019/pages/ebp-briner.aspx (Accessed on 24 November 2023)

3.     Gifford, J. (2016) “In search of the best available evidence”, CIPD positioning paper. London: CIPD. Available at: https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/in-search-of-the-best-available-evidence_tcm18-16904.pdf (Accessed: 24 November 2023)

4.     Gill, C. (2018) “Don’t know, don’t care: An exploration of evidence-based knowledge and practice in human resource management”, Human resource management review, [Online] 28 (2), 103–115 – Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hrmr.2017.06.001

5.     Institute of Directors (2023) ‘High-Performance Work Practices: A Beginners Guide’, IOD Resources Blog – Available at: https://www.iod.com/resources/blog/business-advice/high-performance-work-practices-beginners-guide/ (Accessed on 24 November 2023)

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM and was inspired by an Academy of Management Perspectives article by Rob Briner, Denise Rousseau and David Denyer (2009) entitled: “Evidence-Based Management: Concept Clean Up Time?


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Royal Economic Society (RES) Event on Inclusive Recruitment in Economics

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Monday, 29 Jan 2024, 13:55

The experiences I have had when applying for entry-level roles as an Economist in the past have not been the best, which is why I try to work ten times harder to ensure my work in recruitment is all the more exceptional for the candidates that I engage with professionally. All the more reason why I felt the need to attend the Royal Economic Society’s online Zoom event today, entitled: “Rethinking Inclusive Recruitment” which took place this morning. The Zoom event took an insightful look at the landscape for pathways into academia for female and Black Economists. We also discussed how to improve the application processes, recruitment practices, and the inclusive culture of practitioners in industry when advertising jobs associated with higher education and private-sector policy research in the field of Economics.

I did feel a sense of pride in listening to RES academics describing their respective experiences either with respect to recruitment successes in their own careers or in their respective companies. I took a lot of notes, as you do at such events. Conclusively, among the points that were delivered, the slides on female and ethnic minority recruitment in the field of Economics (by Lisa-Dionne Morris), HR’s involvement in creating a culture of inclusivity (by Faith), and strategies for increasing diversity in Economics (by Kieran) were notable.

I am thankful that RES speakers and delegates took the time to exchange ideas on the importance of social mobility, the value of the university careers centre (and its resources) in communicating career options to future Economists, and the role of student-focused charitable organisations in promoting the ethnic-minority employment gap. I very much valued the mention of the view that more needs to be done to minimise unconscious bias in recruitment - which is true. But the highlight of the event was undoubtedly when Elaine spoke on the value of workforce projections, and the landscape for health economics in research and policy.

A quick thank you to Sam from the RES and Ann for allowing us all to learn more about pathways for student recruitment - Check out SEO and Discover Economics. The next installment of the Rethinking Inclusive Recruitment events will be in person on 24 April 2024 (between 12:00 and 16:00) at the University of Westminster’s Marylebone Campus. I look forward to seeing everyone there.

 

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On The Value of Telecommuting and Flexible Work

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Monday, 20 Nov 2023, 13:50
Over the weekend, I informed one of my tutors that Société Générale once came out with a company report produced by a working committee of influential multi-departmental actors across the Group, which measured approaches to workforce planning at the start of 2020 when the lockdown began which noted that the average number of remote working days in the UK was 11 days per year. The report also noted that from 1 June 2020 – 30 June 2020, “the working group focused on listening to employees and reporting their input in an open and flexible way to enable everyone to express their feelings freely.”

Now, outside of Investment Banking, more generally, I have been impressed by the approach to institutional critique on white privilege, which Prof. Kalwant Bhopal from the University of Birmingham has been influential in sharing. This has inspired me to read the article by Abedi et. al. (2021) where the authors suggest poverty, and in particular Medicaid eligibility, had a strong correlation with the COVID-19 mortality rate in various US states. I was surprised because the health consequences of COVID-19 for those in certain parts of the United States were clear to observe from the article.

Accordingly, for many front-line professions (nursing, ride-hailing, and public sector work) critical race theory is useful in encountering the experience of both black working-class workers and low-income immigrants, particularly caregivers. This is of significant interest to the informed strategies of management through crisis, or what I discovered is referred to by Collings (2021) as “work context” (i.e. hybrid or flexible forms of work).

Collings (2021) cite Wright and McMahon (1992) early on in their paper stating that “They argued that the domain of strategic HRM encompassed ‘the determinants of decisions about HR practices, the composition of human capital resource pools, the specification of the required human resource behaviours, and the effectiveness of these decisions given various business strategies and/or competitive situations'" (Wright and McMahon, 1992, p. 298). Société Générale’s report demonstrates to a degree how important HRM was as a factor during COVID-19’s lockdown, but also how management through crisis is an interdepartmental responsibility, not just that of Human Resources.

As I mentioned earlier in my blog, there is a necessary component called ‘context’, that adds insight into the value of interdepartmental collaboration. Context allows us to see the bigger picture. I am not saying academia seems to misunderstand HR and its function in practice, rather, I am saying context is such a necessary term that I often find it has a plurality of consequences and interpretations in the literature (Johns, 2006) which can be used to critique the conclusion to Collings et. al. (2021) in rhetoric at least, if not in an obscure reality.

References

1.     Abedi, V., Olulana, O., Avula, V., Chaudhary, D., Khan, A., Shahjouei, S., Li., J. and Zand, R. (2021) “Racial, economic, and health inequality and COVID-19 infection in the United States”, Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, 8(3), pp. 732–42.

2.     Collings, D.G., McMackin, J., Nyberg, A.J. and Wright, P.M. (2021) ‘Strategic human resource management and COVID‐19: Emerging challenges and research opportunities’, Journal of Management Studies. Available at: https://doi-org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/10.1111/joms.12695 (Accessed: 19 November 2023)

3.     Johns, G. (2006) "The Essential Impact of Context on Organizational Behaviour", The Academy of Management Review, 31(2), pp. 386–408

4.     Société Générale Report: Future of Work: ‘Building a new work experience together at Société Générale’, July 2020 – Available at https://www.societegenerale.com/sites/default/files/documents/2020-10/future_of_work_livre_blanc_va.pdf

5.     Stuart, M., Spencer, D. A., McLachlan, C. J., Forde, C. (2021) “COVID-19 and the uncertain future of HRM: Furlough, job retention and reform”, Human Resource Management Journal, 31(4), pp. 904-917

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM and was inspired by a Forbes article entitled: "Companies with flexible remote work policies outperform on revenue growth: report"


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The Joys and Complexities for Book Hunting and OpenAI's Solitary Succession Gaff

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Monday, 20 Nov 2023, 11:24

This International Mens' Day inspired me to do some much-needed searching for one of Hilary Scarlett's Neuroscience textbooks - directly from the Open University Library. I also have to commend the Medium Editorial team for sharing a post about the Neuroscience of Flow via e-mail this weekend.

As it turns out, according to our Library team here, when a book is not in stock or available via an e-resource, Open students can gain complimentary access to the resources of other Libraries. I jumped at the opportunity to join SCONUL access to Universities such as the London School of Economics and Birbeck. But while I skimmed the list of Libraries I could access, I noticed that Oxbridge (Oxford and Cambridge) seemed to be outside of the SCONUL scheme's remit - which is completely understandable. 

I had to contact Oxford's Bodleian Libraries on Friday, separately in order to enquire into the possibility of engaging with specific reading materials from their collections as part of their service to Non-Oxford taught postgraduates during the summer and vacation periods. The response thus far has been positive, across the board.

Now, for the other reason for this post, bear with me.

Someone anonymously shared something in the Open University's Discord channel that made me think about HR's role in contract termination (again). The share was related to the dismissal of OpenAI's former top cat, Sam Altman. Now, I have reported on hundreds if not thousands of executive appointments, and as an HR postgraduate, there are several aspects I would like to comment on here.

1) Within a well-functioning company, the Chief Executive's performance should always be subject to review. In my opinion, if a termination is to take place, it should not be as abrupt, messy, and public as the case of Mr. Altman. However, this all depends on what has been agreed in the contract of employment.

2) Was Mr. Altman unfairly dismissed? Mr. Altman is an American. But even if he were British, this would still not be an aspect I personally would be able to comment on, without a considerable set of reasons available for making him walk. Mr. Altman does appear to have an argument though. It does seem like a rather knee-jerk decision, even with his performance review taken into account.

3) What now for OpenAI and its leadership? Well, with the rise of generative artificial intelligence, OpenAI is fast becoming a popular and systemically important organisation. The company, within a matter of a few days, has moved to announce Emmett Shear as a successor to Mr. Altman. In terms of succession planning, this is an unusual set of affairs and probably not the best way to proceed if a competent board wishes to enact an orderly transition of leadership - for various reasons.


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Hilary Scarlett and the Neuroscience of Organisational Change (pt.2)

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Monday, 20 Nov 2023, 07:32

Thank you to Hilary Scarlett for taking the time out of your schedule to speak to me about your amazing journey towards your current aspirations (for all but 20 minutes) and thank you for sharing with me how we can help answer important questions with your book on the subject of change.

It was great meeting up with cognitive neuroscientist, author, and scholar Hilary Scarlett yesterday on Zoom. I told her how I used to work opposite two very capable project consultants who each led on change. I also sat beside a very well-paid BA. As I introduced my questions, I noted that what impressed me about these respective roles was the fact that they were concerned with change concurrently with operative business; these people worked on endlessly whilst the business of the department trotted alongside. So, I sort of got the impression that the business was constantly moving and always evolving. Jiras were being filed seamlessly, and Pega requests were being signed off, without interruption.

Now, as you guys know, I recently wrote in an OU blog post that stated “in the postmodern literature on organisational change, the subject is often thought of as an ontology" (Tsoukas and Chia, 2002). I asked Hilary if she would agree that neuroscience is at the forefront of the multi-disciplinary movement to help better understand organisational thought? I didn't quite get the reply I was looking for.

I then told Hilary that one of my main influences was the work of Cambridge University's Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology, Barbara Sahakian in a study she pioneered alongside co-author, CfEL's Professor Shai Vyakarnam entitled: "The Innovative Brain", which was published in Nature (Sahakian, et. al., 2008). Hilary's response was amazing. She gave me insight into a few prominent perspectives on change and explained that in her time as a Languages undergrad and Psychology graduate, she herself was introduced to a paper on neuroscience which convinced her that was the industry she wanted to pursue. We ended our brief conversation shortly after. 

Now, there is a widely cited academic article that focuses on the role of “context” in OB discourse (Gary Johns, 2006). Succinctly put, "context" is seen by Johns as: “the surroundings associated with phenomena which help to illuminate [sic] phenomenon, typically factors associated with units of analysis above those expressly under investigation” (Capelli and Sherer, 1991:56). Alongside this widely cited article are several other articles which reference the work of Gary Johns (2006), and which present the influence of this nature of “context” on the field of HRM. 

I shall leave us all with a question based on this premise: How relevant are cognitive models of analysis such as the Maslows and the McGregors on the emergence of HRM as an interdisciplinary field or as its own research domain? More or less important than our respective realities? 

References

1.      Cappelli, P. and Sherer, P. D. (1991) "The missing role of context in OB: The need for a meso-level approach",  Research in Organizational Behaviour, 13: pp. 55–110

2.      Chia, R. (1995) "From Modern to Postmodern Organizational Analysis", Organization Studies, 16(4), pp. 579-604

3.      Johns, G. (2006) "The Essential Impact of Context on Organizational Behaviour", The Academy of Management Review, 31(2), pp. 386–408

4.      Tsoukas, H. and Chia, R. (2002) “On organizational becoming: rethinking organizational change”, Organization Science, 13(5), pp. 567+

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by the work of Barbara Sahakian (2008) in a Nature article entitled: "The Innovative Brain".

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Hilary Scarlett and the Neuroscience of Organisational Change (pt.1)

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Friday, 17 Nov 2023, 06:42

I have two important meetings this week. The first is an AGM with the Peckham Branch of the Constituency Labour Party, where I hope to learn more about the elected role of Trade Union Liaison Officer, and the second is a meeting with scholar and author, Hilary Scarlett, whose recently published Kogan Page textbook: "Neuroscience for Organisational Change: An Evidence-based Practical Guide to Managing Change" (2019) is all the rage. I remember our first encounter almost like it was yesterday. We were first introduced to ourselves in mid-2016 when I managed to find the time to go to an in-person annual HRM conference event at Westminster Business School, where Hilary spoke very impressively to a packed audience in one of Westminster's many lecture theatres on the topic of the intersection between organisational change, neuroscience, and the subject of post-merger integration alongside Ted Smith of the Wellcome Trust. Hilary's work on change has been very well summarised by Julie Lister from Westminster in the literature available in the Library. I am hopefully going to get the opportunity to ask Hilary a lot of questions about the influence of neuroscience on change. She's probably the world's foremost authority on the subject.

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Loughborough's Peter Ackers, Cranfield's Emma Parry and Zeno's Paradox

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Thursday, 11 Jan 2024, 03:16

Last Wednesday, I wrote a brief e-mail to Peter Ackers asking the prolific Industrial Relations academic to interpret which book or article or indeed which critical perspective he would decide holds the most influence in Alan Fox's extended oeuvre. 

"Is it Unitarism, Pluralism, or Marxist / Radical? " I asked Prof. Ackers, hoping for enlightenment.

Fast forward an academic week and I finally got that long-awaited reply from Peter Ackers yesterday:

"Hello Alfred, Good to hear from you & pleased you found the idea of neo-pluralism interesting. As you'll see from the bottom reference below, I'm still developing this. The old Industrial Relations Pluralism was fairly narrowly based on conflict between trade unions and employers within the IR system. My 1st IRJ piece in 2002 tried to expand this for contemporary society, where unions are weaker, there are other forms of 'voice' & there are tensions between work & family life. Your blog & question are interesting. All 3 frames are still in play, but within academic Employment Relations the main debate is between neo-pluralism & a radical- pluralism based on Fox's later writing. At the same time, much of management thought is unitarist, assuming simple shared interests between management & employees."

Interesting response from Peter Ackers. More here.

Let's get started!

Today's blog post focuses on a critical perspective of HR in what I will argue is HR's gradual excursion into Zeno's paradox of motion. To illustrate, I will begin with an anecdote. When I first joined Société Générale as a Data Analyst intern in May 2014, I was invited to a social event at an illustrious venue in the City - 1 America Square - by the Head of Human Resources, Benjamin Higgens. This was the first informal encounter I had with colleagues from other departments in the bank. By the time I departed from the role in the following year, I had learned enough about the corporate banking industry to move on; I informed my manager of my intent to leave, and a letter of termination was issued by a HR clerk in the following days. Upon reflection, it is easy to see that HR was indeed the first and last form of representation that I had engaged with. Although, HR is arguably an integral part of any successful business operating model, its strategic role in practice is perhaps not as well understood as it could potentially be.

There is a philosophy borrowed from Ancient Greece that may very well have inspired the thinking behind how modern sports analysts observe the reasons behind why some sprinters are so much more exceptional in comparison to other athletes, particularly across generations. Zeno’s paradox of motion states that “the fast runner Achilles can never overtake the slow-moving tortoise” (Wesley, 1980; Tsoukas and Chia, 2002). What has this got to do with changes in HR’s function? Well, likewise, in the field of research, it is often worthwhile to occasionally take a step back and evaluate the successes and shortcomings of change in organisations. Why? Because as academics and practitioners, change does not necessarily signal progression. This blog post will argue that the evolving role of human resource management (HRM) is suffering from a gradual excursion into Zeno’s paradox.

As this blog post explains, using a three-part framework with real-world examples, there are notable ‘drivers’ of change that have influenced comparatively less ethical consideration in the workplace, particularly in HR. This three-part framework corresponds to the ‘TOP’ framework found in the work of Parry and Bondarouk, where a significant driver of change is the concept of Technology or e-HRM (Bondarouk et. al., 2017; Fernandez and Gallardo-Gallardo, 2021; Shipton, et. al., 2017; Tansley et. al., 2014; Poba-Nzaou, et al., 2020). According to Parry and Bondarouk, much of the change in HR’s function has come as the result of web or cloud-based innovations that have emerged within the last 15-20 years. We already know that changes in HR tech over time can be understood in many ways, for example, through ‘rates of adoption’ (Marler and Parry, 2016; Poba-Nzaou et al., 2020). Questions of relevance are important to consider. Has the uptake of HR tech been universal? Through the prism of impact, or ‘degrees of automation’. Has the uptake of HR tech been competitive or transformational (Diaz-Fernandez et. al., 2017; Tansley et. al., 2014)? How do we better understand the impact of changes in HR’s function through tech innovation?

The second significant driver of change is Organisational. HR’s function is already a delicate one. It involves coercive and rhetorical enforcement of the employee-employer relationship with a view to protecting against the possibility of overt breaches and instances of vicarious liability, especially in the world of infrastructure finance. The foresight of any repudiation of a binding contract is a necessary function of HR in the modern workplace. Such rhetorical enforcement is indicative of a shift to the ‘human resource’ professional approach beyond the realm where formal procedures are merely followed, as opposed to a ‘personnel’ management approach, increasingly as large corporates seek to guard themselves against expensive litigation. Take repudiation as one such instance (Cabrelli and Zahn, 2012; Cabrelli and Zahn, 2013) or as in ‘Société Générale vs Raphael Geys (2012)’, where the ‘automatic’ and ‘elective’ theories of repudiation are annotated by the Rt. Hon. Justice, Lord Sumption.

In the postmodern literature on organisational change, the subject is often thought of as an ontology (Tsoukas and Chia, 2002). There are weak ontologies and strong ontologies of becoming in what Chia (1995) emphasises is a transient reality. But it is how the organisation is philosophically viewed that is of the essence. Surveillance, particularly ‘hierarchal surveillance’, has been noted by some HRM academics as an externality that is all too perceivable in modern HR (Kamoche and Newenham-Kahindi, 2012).

Finally, the third driver of change is what the TOP framework references as People. This is akin to shifts in the modes and practices of work (Bowen and Ostroff, 2004; Nwachukwu, 2016).

The TOP framework suggests that HR’s function is adoptive towards digitisation (Fernandez and Gallardo-Gallardo, 2021). However, is this sort of adoption ethical? In a series of qualitative interviews with over 40 respondents from HR, the evidence that one academic presents suggests that HR actively engages in what this blog post will refer to as the 3D’s of unethical HRM - distancing, depersonalising, and dissembling. The respondents achieved the 3D’s in their workplace relationships by neutralising any moral imputes to the role of HR (De Gama et. al., 2012). What does this tell us? Well, it corroborates the view that the rhetoric of digitisation is not always ethical (Legge, 2005). As such, concerns with workforce mobility (Bader et. al., 2023; Harzing et. al., 2020) and imbalances in cross-cultural talent identification (McDonnell et. al., 2023) as an inherent responsibility of the multi-stakeholder model have possibly led to more contested outcomes in the present day.

Aside from the ethicality of the changes I have highlighted in the TOP framework, research on the acquisition by HR professionals of new competencies coincides quite well with Zeno’s paradox. According to the interviews which inform Arthur Yueng’s rendition of the HR competency model (Yueng et. al., 1996), only 10-15% of HR professionals possess the necessary competencies for a transition into a new reinvented business function.

This blog post has shown how HR follows the pattern of Zeno’s paradox. Philosophical and rhetorical changes in HR’s function are an evolving, and multi-faceted concept but in a multi-stakeholder model, these changes are usually unaligned to more rapid changes in business strategy. Using a three-part framework, I have shown how driving factors in the form of the Parry and Bondarouk framework continue to affect the evolving role of HR in practice.

Practitioners should embrace the concept of change in HR’s function, but practice should be informed by evidence founded in relevant areas of empirical research. Developing strategies of competitive advantage with respect to wider operating models.

References

1.        Bader, B., Bucher, J. and Sarabi, A. (2023) “Female expatriates on the move? Gender diversity management in global mobility”, Human Resource Management Journal, [Preprint] – Available at https://doi.org/10.1111/1748-8583.12529

2.        Bondarouk, T., Parry, E. and Furtmueller, E. (2017) “Electronic HRM: four decades of research on adoption and consequences”, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 28(1), pp. 98-131 - Available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2016.1245672

3.        Bowen, D.E. and Ostroff, C. (2004) “Understanding HRM–Firm Performance Linkages: The Role of the “Strength” of the HRM System”, The Academy of Management review, 29(2), pp. 203–221. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2004.12736076.

4.        Cabrelli, D. & Zahn, R. (2012) “The Elective and Automatic Theories of Termination at Common Law: Resolving the Conundrum?”, Industrial Law Journal (London). [Online] 41 (3), 346–357

5.        Cabrelli, D. & Zahn, R. (2013) “The Elective and Automatic Theories of Termination in the Common Law of the Contract of Employment: Conundrum Resolved?”, Modern Law Review. [Online] 76 (6), 1106–1119

6.        Cooke, F. L., Xiao, Q. and Xiao, M. (2020) “Extending the frontier of research on (strategic) human resources in China: A review of David Lepak and colleagues’ influence and future research direction”, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 32(1), pp.183-224 - Available at https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2020.1803949

7.        Chia, R. (1995). From Modern to Postmodern Organizational Analysis. Organization Studies, 16(4), 579-604 – Available at https://doi.org/10.1177/017084069501600406

8.        De Gama, N., McKenna, S. and Peticca-Harris, A. (2012) “Ethics and HRM: Theoretical and Conceptual Analysis: An Alternative Approach to Ethical HRM Through the Discourse and Lived Experiences of HR Professionals”, Journal of Business Ethics, 111(1), pp. 97–145 - Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-012-1479-z

9.        Diaz-Fernandez, M., Bornay-Barrachina, M. and Lopez-Cabrales, A. (2017) HRM practices and innovation performance: a panel-data approach. International Journal of Manpower. [Online] 38 (3), 354–372.

10.     Fernandez, V. & Gallardo-Gallardo, E. (2021) “Tackling the HR digitalization challenge: key factors and barriers to HR analytics adoption”. Competitiveness Review. [Online] 31 (1), 162–187

11.     Harzing, A., Shea . X. and Kohler, T. (2020) “How you see me, how you don’t: ethnic identity self-verification in interactions between local subsidiary employees and ethnically similar expatriates”, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 31(19), pp. 2407-2433 - Available at https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2018.1448294

12.     Kamoche, K. and Newenham-Kahindi, A. (2012) “Knowledge appropriation and HRM: the MNC experience in Tanzania”, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23(14), pp. 2854-2873 - Available at https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2012.671507

13.     Kochan, T. A. and Barocci, T. A. (1995) ‘Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations: Text, Readings and Cases’, Scott Foresman, and Company

14.     Legge, Karen. (2005) ‘Human Resource Management : Rhetorics and Realities’, Anniversary ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

15.     Marler, J. H. and Parry, E. (2016) “Human Resource Management, Strategic Involvement and e-HRM Technology”, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 27(19), pp. 2233-2253 - Available at https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2015.1091980

16.     McDonnell, A., Skuza, A., Jooss, S. and Scullion, H. (2023) “Tensions in talent identification: a multi-stakeholder perspective”, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 34(6), pp. 1132-1156 - Available at https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2021.1976245

17.     Morrow, T. (2000) “Integrating human resource management and business strategy in the Northern Ireland clothing industry: A case of oil and water?”, IBAR, 21(1), pp. 131-146

18.     Nwachukwu, C. (2016) “Investigating the linkage between competitive strategy and human resource management practices in Nigeria medium-sized enterprises”, Liverpool John Moores University – Doctor of Philosophy - Available at http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4198/1/2016NwachukwuCelestinephd.pdf

19.     Nwachukwu, C. and Akwei, C. (2023) “An exploration of contextual factors affecting the nexus of competitive strategy and human resource management practices in Nigeria emerging market context”, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 34(16), pp. 3079-3122 - Available at https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2022.2104128

20.     Poba-Nzaou, P. et al. (2020) ‘Taxonomy of business value underlying motivations for e-HRM adoption: An empirical investigation based on HR processes’, Business process management journal, 26(6), pp. 1661–1685. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1108/BPMJ-06-2018-0150

21.     Shipton, H., Sparrow, P., Budhwar, P. and Brown, A. (2017) “HRM and innovation: Looking across levels”, Human Resource Management Journal, 27(2), pp. 246-263 - Available at https://doi.org/10.1111/1748-8583.12102

22.     Société Générale London Branch v. Raphael Geys (2012), UK Supreme Court, UKSC 63 - Available at https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2011-0110-judgment.pdf

23.     Tansley, C., Kirk, S., Williams, H., Barton, H., Parry, E. and Strohmeier, S. (2014) “Tipping the scales: ambidexterity practices on e-HRM projects”, Employee relations. [Online] 36 (4), 398–414.

24.     Tsoukas, H. and Chia, R. (2002) “On organizational becoming: rethinking organizational change”, Organization Science, 13(5), pp. 567+

25.     Walsh, C., Glendinning, S., Dawson, R. J., O’Brien, P., Heidrich, O., Rogers, Christopher, D. F., Bryson, J. R. and Purnell, P. (2022) “A Systems Framework for Infrastructure Business Models for Resilient and Sustainable Urban Areas”, Frontiers in Sustainable Cities (Open Access) 4(1) - Available at https://doi.org/10.3389/frsc.2022.825801

26.     Wesley C. S, (1980) ‘Space, Time, and Motion’, Minneapolis: the University of Minnesota Press – Available at https://personal.lse.ac.uk/ROBERT49/teaching/ph103/2013-2014/pdf/Salmon-Zeno.pdf

27.     Yueng, A., Woolcock, P., and Sullivan, J. (1995) “Identifying and developing HR competencies for the future: Keys to sustaining the transformation of HR functions”, The California Strategic Human Resource Partnership, 19(4), pp. 48-58


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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by the work of Peter Ackers in an International Journal of Human Resource Management article entitled: “Neo-pluralism as a theoretical framework for understanding HRM in sub-Saharan Africa

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Kolb on Managerial Learning Styles

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Sunday, 19 Nov 2023, 01:14

I booked a long overdue break from my studies yesterday in order to reflect on some of my recent learnings both in academia and in practice this week. My B810 tutor was adamant that reflective learning (and by extension, experiential learning) were models we should embrace. One of the main conclusions I picked up from the tutorial was that there are two different types of learning styles with respect to middle managers. The first type I discovered was accommodative. This is largely an experiential approach to learning reliant upon intuition rather than logic. The second important type is assimilative. This type of learning is more concerned with concepts and what David Kolb (1976) called reflective observation. 

As Kolb explains, middle managers solve problems in one of two ways using these learning styles. The first of these problem-solving strategies is referred to as successive scanning and the second of which is referred to as simultaneous scanning. Kolb uses these intricate differences to inform his conclusion, which stipulates that learning should be pursued in the same way that productivity or profit is pursued.

Luckily, I didn’t spend the whole day reading into the literature, I did manage to do other things.

1. I joined the People Geek community – which is an online community dedicated to promoting the growth of over 35,000 HR professionals across the globe. The community is managed by the brilliant DeMario Bell who I am indebted to for extending an invitation.

2. I found a bit of time in the morning to reach out to Prof. Peter Ackers at Loughborough University to discuss his article on HRM in sub-Saharan Africa.

3. I asked a few online friends where the best place to study is in London, and the consensus seems to be - The British Library reading room.

What did I learn about myself whilst I was on my reflective break? Well, I came to the realisation that fundamentally, my learning style is as equally as assimilative as it is accommodative.

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by the work of David A. Kolb (1976) in a California Management Review article entitled “Management and the Learning Process”.


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Fox’s Frames of Reference

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Monday, 13 Nov 2023, 07:05

Had a fascinating B812 tutorial today. Whilst attempting to form an opinion on the differences between Pluralism and Unitarism, guided by the direction provided by Dr Gill. I kept seeing the work of the late Alan Fox (an author who is undoubtedly a popularly cited authority in the field) on Pluralism.

An interesting read I found refers to a discussion that I would like to share. The e-book defines the term “Employment Relations” as possessing a context which internalises the conflict between institutional groups, (mainly managers and unions), which is typically considered distinct from the focus of what we refer to as “Human Resource Management (HRM)”. The latter is often viewed as a way of describing the critical perspectives on managerial business functions such as appraisal, recruitment, and interviewing.

So, as the title of the post alludes to the e-book introduces a term coined by Alan Fox referred to as “frames of reference”. We are then introduced to Pluralism in the following paragraphs. Fox’s 1966 paper: “A Note on Industrial-Relations Pluralism” is a good primer on this. 

As a peer mediator in my school days, I was certainly intrigued by the practical balance that may be achieved through approaches founded on unitarism, but inherently I was drawn toward the middle ground. I reluctantly chose to fence sit. Somewhere between Fox's unitarian perspective and Fox's radical perspective.

Neo-pluralism.

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by the work of Peter Ackers in an International Journal of Human Resource Management article entitled: “Neo-pluralism as a theoretical framework for understanding HRM in sub-Saharan Africa”.


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A Message from Dr. Carol Gill

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Wednesday, 8 Nov 2023, 17:43

Yesterday was a busy day. I attended my first B810 lecture and wrote to Dr. Carol Gill, from the University of Melbourne, whom I mentioned in a previous OU Blog post. This was what I wrote:

"I came across a point you made regarding developmental humanism, which prompted me to ask - what kind of philosophy are you an advocate for with respect to the spectrum between developmental humanism and harder forms of HRM?"

To my surprise, Dr. Gill sent me this email reply last night:

"There is a debate between Pluralism and Unitarianism with the latter suggesting they are not mutually exclusive I.e. if you go for developmental humanism you will achieve organisation productivity through commitment and engagement of the workforce that use their discretionary effort towards organisation goals and values. I hold this view - it is also the ethical path. However, instrumentalism may work if discretionary effort is not required.

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by the work of Carol Gill in a Human Resource Management Review article entitled: “Don't know, don't care: An exploration of evidence-based knowledge and practice in human resource management


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Encountering Gill on Evidence-Based Practice

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Tuesday, 21 Nov 2023, 18:58

Short post today. 

There exists a gem of an article, that I suspect many are attuned to, so I will be very brief with my own interpretation. The article is by Dr. Carol Gill of Melbourne Business School. Dr. Gill’s article is interesting in that it establishes the argument that the HR profession has not really changed much in the last 25 – 30 years (which is a very long time horizon and somewhat of an odd claim to have made if not only due to advances we've all experienced in digital technology).

But, the more important fact is that the human resource profession seemingly, according to Gill, exudes itself through a pellucid vortex of insufficient academic oversight. Central to Gill’s position in this article is the view that current industry approaches (and more so, by extension, its rhetorical domain) are not siphoned enough to contemporary models of practice through informed research.

An interesting view.

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by the work of Carol Gill in a Human Resource Management Review article entitled: “Don't know, don't care: An exploration of evidence-based knowledge and practice in human resource management

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On the Supposed Truth Behind the Uptake of Corporate Wellness Programs

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Wednesday, 29 Nov 2023, 12:13

For today’s post, I decided to use a text from a famous author in 20th-century post-structuralist philosophy to critique a flaw in the thinking behind perceptions of corporate wellbeing. As HRM students, we already know that uptake into wellness programs, which are typically designed to coerce seemingly unproductive employees into adopting “healthy habits”, is not always 100% across the board – but also, we know that there are different ways of measuring the power dynamics (referred to as “health nannyism” by one author) and the ultimate success of such programs.

These two points are arguably dependent on a number of broader factors one of which is the conceptualisation of absenteeism. In Ronald J. Ozminkowski’s analysis, the view of absenteeism (a subject that I touched upon in a previous post) serves a particular purpose. What is the intended outcome? Well, because absenteeism is not defined holistically by Ozminkowski, absenteeism could feasibly be due to a very wide selection of causes - little attempt is made to distinguish differences between reasons for employee absence and indeed absence is taken as a given. A troubling view.

Another view here is found in the work of Hull and Pasquale (2017:207) in their article, “Towards a Critical Theory of Corporate Wellness”, which is worthy of discussion. Very rarely do I see the work of French poststructuralist philosopher Michael Foucault cited in conjunction with concepts found in dense non-epistemological topics, but Hull and Pasquale have attempted this. In The Truth of Wellness, Hull, and Pasquale promote the idea that there is a predominant, complete, and resonating “truth”, one which explains the how and why behind corporate wellness programs (and by extension, its causes) to the practice of delivering on corporate wellbeing. This is one that I find to be somewhat denigrating to the idea and definition of universal truth, in and of itself.

Having first been introduced to Michel Foucault by Dr. Sam Mansell (now of the University of St. Andrews) in a presentation Dr. Mansell gave during his time as a Lecturer at the University of Essex, I recalled a paper ResearchGate once suggested, authored by Lemke entitled: “Critique and Experience in Foucault” as being one of the first real excursions into pure philosophy that I was blessed enough to have read as a student.

Lemke (2011) famously translates the work of Foucault in Rarity: Problemization as a History of Truth where he supposes the question: “How do I have to be, in order to be"? Now, if we consider the nature of the question, there are any number of suppositions that could make the above argument concerning the truth of wellness programs by Hull and Pasquale (2017) seem contestable. Truth is something that resonates with us all and is something that we all identify with. So, it is not just a feat of epistemologically unquantifiable proportions to suggest that corporate wellness exists in isolation as a complete perception, but also it is very troubling that a human perception of this should be rendered as evidentially complete.

Just thought I would land that point.

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by the work of Gordon Hull and Frank Pasquale (2017) in an article entitled “Towards A Critical Theory of Corporate Wellness” and the work of Ronald J. Ozminkowski as found in an e-book edited by Ronald J. Burke and Astrid M. Richardsen (2014) entitled "Corporate Wellness Programs"

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A Message from Dr. Andrew Bryce

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Tuesday, 21 Nov 2023, 18:59

Dr. Andrew Bryce, the author and research academic from the University of Sheffield - who I mentioned in a previous OU Blog post, sent me this email yesterday:

"Indeed shirking and presenteeism are two sides of the same coin. As my colleague Sarah Brown shows in her paper, the problem is that true health is not observed by the employer so it is difficult to know whether a worker is shirking or genuinely too ill to work. Likewise, they don't know whether the staff who do attend work are well enough to do the work effectively. This may be even more difficult when staff habitually work remotely. So the challenge to HR practitioners is to have incentives in place to encourage sick workers to stay at home and workers in good health to come in.

I can't say much in answer to your specific question as the policies and practices adopted by firms have not been the focus of my research. You may wish to look at another paper I have recently published with the same co-authors, looking at sickness absence. In the literature review, we highlight a number of studies that look at the effectiveness of different approaches and working conditions for reducing sickness absence. I hope this will help to guide your further reading on this subject."

Lots of ways to look at this...

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by the work of Andrew M. Bryce, Jennifer Roberts, and Mark L. Bryan (2021) in a European Journal of Health Economics article entitled, “The effects of long-term health conditions on sickness absence in the UK"


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Is Employer Branding, HR or Marketing?

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Sunday, 5 Nov 2023, 12:35

The influential perspective that is Employer Branding is perhaps best defined as a very innovative collection of ideas and strategies that aim to position an employer favourably with respect to its target candidates. However, Employer Branding, and by extension the Employer Value Proposition (EVP), in and itself, are not a part of HR, they are part of Marketing.

It's true, and I’ll even tell you why I think this. Roughly about a year ago, whilst navigating an important ESG project, I came across an interesting document. It related to diversity, equity and inclusion in the fast-paced world of infrastructure (data centres to be exact). I could not tell you how many times and how many ESG reports I had read that had woefully omitted an effective diversity, equity and inclusion segment, but off the top of my head, it was the majority. Now, there was a specific issue I had with one particular ESG report from last year reported by Digital Realty Trust, Inc., a leading provider of data centre solutions. In the report, Digital Realty had a focus that happened to be on DEI stats. Now, the company’s workforce planning ambitions are somewhat measured. Its workforce currently consists of 75% (2,288) male employees, the remaining 25% (747) are female employees. The first thing I noticed was that the report failed to disclose any other gender class, which was a big red flag. By the same ratio, its U.S. workforce by racial group included 66% White, 11% Asian and only 9% Black employees. So, I started to think…

What if Google or Microsoft had released this report? It would have been front-page news. That took me to the next question. What are the best methods of readily presenting information produced by an organisation without encroaching on the company’s EVP? Interesting question, right? Well, a report of this magnitude – Digital Realty Trust, Inc. employs over 3,000+ workers – can readily testify to having tried the most obvious method, percentages and charts. I challenged myself as a DEI leader to come up with some alternative ways of communicating information such as this.

I am a strong believer that academia is not necessarily activism but that data can inform business strategy.

I became convinced that the lesson here was embedded in the fact that Employer Branding is not HR. That is to say, unless the DEI statistics from a report are up to the job, it is counter-productive to the company's ambition to publish them so opaquely. Employer Branding thus needs Marketing as much as Marketing needs it. Yes, critics will say it is wise and healthy to have companies produce such reports, regardless of the contents, but it is also wise to consider how internal leaders must coordinate their own strategies.

There is a strong argument that CEOs must define EVP as a separate, budgeted function, accountable to Marketing and not Recruitment or HR. This goes right back to James Ellis’ post on Substack which succinctly describes a situation whereby Employer Branding as a business function is continuously misunderstood by all types of professionals he speaks to and surveys regularly.

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by the work of Lizz Pellet (2009) in a Society for Human Resource Management article entitled, “The Cultural Fit Factor: See Ch. 6 - The Mad Hatter – Human Resources as Marketer"


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Leavism, Absenteeism, Presenteeism (and Shirking) – Forming Inferences

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Sunday, 5 Nov 2023, 12:36

Not long before I joined the MSc in HRM, I was between program options. My research into what would be my third degree had led me to HRM as a viable route into a postdoctoral role. While considering my options with a skip in my step and a huge bout of consummate optimism, I without hesitation applied to graduate admissions at The London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) for what was meant to be a 1+3 (MRes + PhD in Employee Relations and Human Resources) - this was in late July by the way - this application ended up being for an MSc in Economics and Management, mainly due to the fact that a hard deadline for the 1+3 program had just elapsed. My only option was to apply for another Uni at short notice or defer my interest until the next academic year.

University application processes are strange things because you can't really apply everywhere, you have enough time and energy to engage in a limited number of applications. Having realised that I had spent the best part of £80 GBP - the set fee that LSE charges for the privilege of tendering its application process, chased multiple academic references for the best part of a month and produced a compelling supporting statement for what turned out to be nothing whatsoever, I decided to channel my efforts towards this distance learning program instead of LSE’s ERHR, maintaining all the prior graft I had accumulated for postdoctoral research.

Considering productivity and well-being in the literature

Whilst in a sort of quasi-transition between these two programs, I uncovered an interesting article by the team at MorganAsh. Now, I don’t wish to be too complimentary to the entire paper, but in the article, the company through its Director, Andrew Gething, speaks eloquently about Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and absenteeism in the context of Financial Services. Whilst conducting research on this article, I came across and shared something that popped up in my academic inbox about a term called ‘presenteeism’ a few days ago courtesy of People Management magazine.

To explain, I recently wrote an article on microeconomic wage bargaining which uncovered the effect of shirking on wages. Presenteeism is essentially an extension of the shirking principle. The Brown and Sessions model is interesting because it is cited by Andrew Bryce in his paper which is perhaps the second most authoritative in the literature. Having retweeted Dr. Bryce’s post on X about his paper, which was subsequently the subject of a few exchanges between ourselves via e-mail, it was important for me to draw inferences from this duality to bring closure to my convictions. I, for one, believe that HR professionals must resolve the landscape of factors influencing dysfunctional presenteeism in practice either through soft or hard means. More on this later.

Life is a funny ol’ thing. It would almost certainly have never crossed my mind that, even with my rich vein of experience in HR, I would have stumbled across such valuable a concept as presenteeism and leavism, so early on in my respective journey.

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by the work of Mark L. Bryan, Jennifer Roberts, and Andrew M. Bryce (2022) in an article entitled, “Dysfunctional Presenteeism: Effects of physical and mental health on work performance”.

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A Primer on Board Effectiveness and Diversity

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Edited by Alfred Anate Mayaki, Sunday, 5 Nov 2023, 12:36

Earlier in the week, I was preparing to write something for Medium, before discovering this Open University online blog space. While I was still drafting the blog, I ran into an old friend of mine who shared an interesting read by Michael O'Dwyer from the Financial Times. I was somewhat concerned, as concerned as she was. Not only about the findings of the survey but about the decision-making processes that must have been taken to arrive at this clearly egregious course of action. What course of action am I referring to? 

I am referring to a preference to hire those with senior-level experience over candidates with diverse backgrounds. This is something I will refer to as an anti-diversity challenge.

An anti-diversity challenge, in my view, is any unfortunate course of action that contradicts the commitment an organisation has previously made towards promoting diversity (in this case, we are speaking of anti-diversity within boards).

Observing the rationale for greater board effectiveness through the lens of diversity

As per the article by Michael O’Dwyer, Spencer Stuart, the executive search firm conducting the study, noted in the firm’s 2023 UK Board Index that in the last 12 months and for the first time, the number of ethnically diverse and female directors in publicly-listed firms had fallen. Why was this the case? Indeed, Spencer Stuart reports that this phenomenon is owed to the fact that boards are seemingly self-perpetuating entities, preferring to hire candidates who have previous experience spearheading publicly listed companies.

We know that to their detriment UK Boards are lacking (somewhat severely) in HR expertise, according to recent CIPD research. But in order to combat this dilemma highlighted in the FT, what approach to board search is needed by listed companies in order to achieve the objective of greater board effectiveness?

Well, we all believe effective boards are competent boards. Right? Effective boards are able to execute their duties with maximum impact and without unnecessary hindrance. As such, the optimal search process should ideally attribute its resources impartially.

According to the FT’s columnist, Michael O’Dwyer, there is a caveat to the underlying findings of the Spencer Stuart Board Index. That caveat is that, despite the disappointing findings of the annual survey, there was an increase in women becoming senior independent directors. A role that is often a “good stepping stone” to the position of board chair.

A worthy caveat. However, this cannot possibly be the kind of workplace we want to work towards in our respective journeys or to promote on behalf of our organisations. Can it?

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This post was written by Alfred Anate Mayaki, a student on the MSc in HRM, and was inspired by the work of Stephanie J. Creary (2023) in an MIT Sloan Management Review article entitled, “How Diversity Can Boost Board Effectiveness”.


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