Wednesday, August 18, 2010

US immigration

If Immigrants want to stay here, They must adapt to us!
I do not hold anything against immigrants who are seeking a better life by coming to America. Descendents of immigrants make up much of our population today. Immigrants that come to our country need to understand a few things things. The idea of America being a multicultural community has only taken away from our national identity. We have our own culture, our own language and our own lifestyle just like any other country.

Many immigrants come to america to succeed but have a low education and don’t know where to start. This greatly increases the poverty level. The immigrant welfare level is 43% greater than the native welfare level. People like you and me pay for immigrants with taxes. This puts a Drain on economy because it costs anywhere from 67 – 87 billion dollars a year. PRUCOL, Permanently Residing Under The Color Of Law allows both leagal and illegal immigrants to stay in America for us to pay for.

There are some things that immigrants don’t understand when they come to america. First off, we speak ENGLISH! Not Spanish, Arabic, Chinese or Russian and they must learn the language if they want to become a part of our society. “IN GOD WE TRUST” is our national motto because this nation was founded by Christian men and women . I along with many other people, don’t want to have to worry about whether we are offending another culture or individual because we have patriotism for our country. I think it is certainly appropriate to display this message in our pledge and on the walls of our office buildings and schools. God is a part of our culture and our culture is not going to change.

Since a lot of Immigrants come to this country unstable, they are turned down from jobs. This forces them to commit crimes for money because they have nothing else to do. Roughly 54% of jail inmates are criminal illegal Aliens. Over the past 5 years 72,000 were arrested for drugs alone. In 1999, one prison claimed to be holding over 68,000 criminal illegal immigrants. Because there is an insufficient amount of space in our jails Many illegal aliens were released back into society to harm again. According to the Illinois governors office, Our state Alone spends over 40 million dollars on jailing criminal immigrants.

Many jobs for hard working Americans are taken because immigrants are such cheap labor. A lot of immigrants are low skilled, in 2000 69% of immigrants had no occupation or profession. The average adult had only a 9th grade education and more than 1/3 of immigrants over the age of 25 have no high school education whatsoever. Illegal immigrants displace about 730,000 Americans a year. Employers would rather hire a bunch of cheap immigrant workers than legal Americans because it saves them so much money.

Our government has to do its job and keep illegal immigrants out of our country. There are currently 6,900 agents guarding the southern border and I think they need to raise that number to somewhere around 10,000 agents. Our government needs to start doing a better job of tracking the immigrants that say they are coming in on vacation as well because much of the time they just stay in the country and never leave. Immigrants do little to nothing for our country so we need to slow down the progress of legal immigration so America doesn’t become over crowded.

This is our America. When that small group immigrants are done complaining about our language, our flag, our national motto and our life habits, they should try finding a country that satifies them because its not here. It doesn’t matter how they used to do things because if they don’t like it, They have the right to leave.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Purpose of Written Communication

Have you ever thought what life would be like without written communication? If we could only communicate verbally, what would our society be like now? Some have thought about what the purpose of written communication is besides communication needs. From the earliest forms of writings to the more complex forms over the years, we have seen and felt the tremendous impact, especially in the evolution of newspapers, books, and the internet. During this time, some people have questioned what the primary purpose of written communication really is. One man, named Claude Levi-Strauss, believes that the primary purpose of written communication is to facilitate slavery of the mind by controlling the way an individual thinks. While there have been times in history in which this appears to be true, I still strongly believe that the primary purpose of written communication is to enable us to communicate efficiently.

Thousands of years ago, the only form of written communication was in drawings. One of the first forms of writing was cuneiform, using symbols to represent objects. The Chinese written language began in a similar way. People needed written communication because oral communication by itself is an inadequate means of communication. The human brain simply cannot remember every bit of oral information presented, as demonstrated in English class.

In our English class, we played a game called Telephone. We scattered around the room and each person would whisper a message heard from the person in front of them. The message would travel through everyone until it got to the last person. Since our professor had the message written on a slip of paper, he knew exactly what it is. The first person would be presented the slip of paper and whisper the message without showing the slip. The message travels around until everyone hears something whispered. By the time the last person hears the message, the message he or she hears is usually distorted so much from the original one that it is no longer even relevant. I learned that the brain both stores information briefly and allows manipulation and use of the stored information. Although information can be retained by continually rehearsing it, one little distraction removes it permanently. When information is written on paper, it can always be referred to if it is temporarily forgotten. This is clearly one reason why written communication is necessary.

Written communication has played a major role in historic events throughout the last several centuries. When the Pilgrims left England to settle in America, they had to write out the Indentured Servant Contract. The Indentured Servant Contract established the system by which indentured servants agreed to work for their masters without wages for a certain number of years. An indentured servant is one who works without wages for a period of time in exchange for passage to the American Colonies. This agreement was written on paper because words said orally are not always kept. The contract would then be signed. How would it be possible to create such an agreement without have it written? There would be no way of doing this.

When America declared independence from Britain, the Declaration of Independence was written out. If there was no need for written communication, why would anyone want to bother writing on paper? The Continental Congress met for months to decide on a final copy of the Declaration of Independence. The actual text of the Declaration is very important. Printing a copy of the Declaration of Independence takes up four pages. Can you imagine having it spoken verbally? Who would be able to remember all the information from grievances to rights? If all that mattered is getting independence, why is the text such a big deal? Why did the Continental Congress spend so much time? Verbal communication would definitely not have been as effective. I know that I would not be able to remember everything spoken verbally. I need to see everything written down.

Everyday, people use written contracts to take care of most business transactions. For example, when one buys a house or a car, he signs contracts. If no contracts were signed in a sale, how does he know what each individual’s obligations are? We could mutually make verbal promises to each other. However, there is no way of enforcing actions. Either one of us could easily change our mind. With a written contract and means of written communication, every term is laid out on paper. During the process of a sale of a house, the seller of a house can track down the buyer if anything goes wrong and the funds are not received for the house. In some cases, past and present, people decide to go against an agreed-upon contract. However, because all the terms have been put down in writing, the court has legal ways to deal with such situations as disclosed in writing. Life certainly would not be the same without written communications.

Technology has moved at an amazing speed over the last century with the evolution of computers. The idea of computers and internet started when people needed ways to communicate other than verbal means because of its limitations. People started using the computer to type up articles and papers. Eventually the internet became the way to present information to a large number of people. At any given point, many people could be accessing a site on the web and reading articles. It is not possible to reach a large number of people through the telephone. Now, thanks to technology, we can find almost any information we need on the internet. This is definitely a new form of written communication. Without written communication, the internet wouldn’t exist even though technology allows.

Written communication has, without a doubt, been misused in the past and present. Adolph Hitler took advantage of written communication and spread a lot of racist ideas everywhere, enslaving the German minds and being a bad influence. People took his ideas to heart and went along with what he had to say. As a result, many Jews and other innocent people lost their lives. Hitler’s major work consisted of his two volumes of Mein Kampf (My Struggle). In these two volumes, he talks about his basic ideas and foundations. One passage from Chapter X: Causes of the Collapse from Mein Kampf states “The superior Ayran race, centered in Germany, would be the final victor and would rule the world. However, Germany would have to be ruled by a dictator and would have to be racially aware. It takes truly a Jewish effrontery to attribute the blame solely to the military defeat when the central organ of all traitors to the nation, the Berlin Vorwarts, wrote that this time the German people must not bring its banner home victorious!” This is an excellent example of how written communication is misused. In this case, slavery was facilitated because people were letting their minds be filled with racism.

In Levi-Strauss’ essay, he uses the inaccuracies of the travel literature as support for his argument that written communication facilitates slavery. In his case, the travel literature didn’t help him get by as he thought it would. He read that if he is lost, he is to fire a shot into the air so that the other people could hear it and find him. At another time, he was on an expedition with the Nambikwara tribe. However, only the men were there, each armed with bow and arrows. According to the book, this was a sign that indicated that an attack is eminent. However, the nervousness was unnecessary. Sometimes people make mistakes. Humans are all prone to error. This clearly shows that the purpose of written communication is a necessary means of communication. In this situation, there are always unique times when the typical strategy fails. It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen, as it did.

After considering all the facts, it is clear to me that written communication is not meant to facilitate slavery. Rather, it is a very important means of communication necessary for survival. From the early days when America was first settled to the modern era with booming technology, written communication has always been necessary for us to communicate efficiently. The Internet became an efficient way to reach a large number of people. If writing is only to facilitate the slavery of the mind, our society wouldn’t have gotten this far now.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Essay on Surviving Culture

“Columbine: Whose Fault Is It?,” an essay wrote by Marilyn Manson and published in “Rolling Stone” magazine, addresses the problem of Columbine through the eyes of Manson himself. Through the use of pathos and ethos, Manson forces the reader to interpret his views from many different angles. Manson implements exotic word choice and imagery into his essay and creates a different feel for the reader because of his “hard rocker” status, but the effectiveness of these techniques varies greatly.

After Columbine occurred, the media pointed their finger at Manson. They suggested that his music and image played a key role is causing the tragedy at Columbine. Manson wrote this essay in response to those accusations. Manson presents the idea that the media, as well as society as a whole, is just as responsible as he is for causing the shootings in Columbine. The essay is very straightforward and direct in expressing Manson’s views of why the shootings in Littleton, Colorado occurred.

Manson states in the second line of his essay,“The day that Cain bashed his brother Abel’s brains in, the only motivation he needed was his own human disposition to violence,” this alerts the reader immediately to Manson’s unique rhetorical angle. By comparing past and present, Manson offers the reader with the logical question, “What makes Cain and Abel’s incident any different from that of Columbine?” This is an effective technique because the Cain and Abel example corresponds with that of Columbine, but didn’t involve the influence of movies, TV, or the music of Marilyn Manson. In turn, it provides a valid reason why Manson should not be blamed and that there are a number of other causes for violent actions.
Manson contends whether or not today’s media influences actually differ from that of the bible. This is a bold statement because he is putting blame on the bible, but it’s effective because it is a view that would not normally be looked at. Through ethos, Manson doesn’t use his authority, but the authority of the bible. He questions whether or not the bible is always right in the lessons that it teaches. Who would think of comparing, or evening blaming, such an act of violence with the book that so many people live their life by?

One of the obvious differences in Manson’s essay, compared to a “normally written essay,” is his unique word choice. His word choice is vulgar and, in some cases, borderline. This rhetorical tool is evident beginning with the quote mentioned in the previous paragraph. It illustrates Manson’s unique view of the situation at Columbine very appropriately because the Cain and Abel example is known by everyone, but no one has ever heard it described as a “brain bashing.” By depicting the story of Cain and Abel in that way, it forces the reader to analyze the story in a different context, just as Manson did with the shootings in Columbine.

His word choice creates an attitude that Manson is going to say what he wants, and not feel it necessary to write in a so called “politically correct” form. By writing this way, Manson challenges the “norm”because there is definitely a limited number of essays addressing Columbine that would refer to Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris as “dipshits,” like Manson did. This type of word choice attracts the readers attention throughout the whole essay. Not only do the different words attract attention, but the unusual combinations of words. For example, Manson used the phrase, “gruesome entertainment,” which the phrase by itself is some what contradicting. Most people would say entertainment is enjoyable and generally a good thing, but the use of the word gruesome right before entertainment changes the meaning completely. This illustrates Manson’s main point of his essay in that, entertainment can be gruesome, in terms of the media and news, and eventually contribute to violence.

Manson uses pathos in a very unorthodox way as well. Pathos is used many times to touch a person so that they feel good about the media being interpreted. Manson uses pathos in an alternative form. He touches on many things that are emotionally hard to deal with and talks about them very vulgarly. For example, Manson states, “...watching our president’s brains splattered all over Texas,” which if read by a certain person, could be very offensive and create a blow to the overall effect of the essay. On the contrary, that statement also has the potential of making an impression on the reader. It could be effective, not in a sense of making the reader feel good about something, but instead challenge the thought of the reader and possibly make he or she realize how truly unacceptable things like letting kids watch JFK footage really is. It could be that describing it in such an “in your face” way, makes Manson’s point that much more effective.

Through ethos, Manson uses humor and sarcasm to create a bond with the reader. A reader would not expect a Marilyn Manson essay to be cut and dry with no humor involved, so by doing this he earns the trust of the reader because he is being himself. By Manson saying “...Clinton shooting off his prick...,” he appeals to his own authority of being the “bad boy of hard rock,” where as, if someone like E.B. White used those words, it wouldn’t be effective because he is not the type of person who would use that phrase in their writing. It makes Manson appeal on more of a personal level to the reader because, like stated earlier, it reinforces who he is by writing in his own style.

Although Manson provides a nice change up in the way he uses rhetorical tools, it may be to no avail because Marilyn Manson himself wrote the essay. Manson states many times throughout the essay how not only was he being blamed for Columbine, but also the fact that he is not well liked by adults because as he states, “...most adults hate people who go against the grain,” and he willingly admits to being one of those people. This is a very valid point and could mean a major drop off of potential readers. With his tarnished image, his essay becomes less effective as it can not relate to as people as an essay written by an author who is well thought of in our society. If a person holds Manson highly responsible for what happened in Columbine, what would make that person take Manson seriously? Even if this person does read the essay, who is to say that he or she would not just assume, “sure, he is going to defend himself.”

The same rhetorical tools that were described as being effective could also be detrimental to expressing Manson’s views. The use of profanity, as well as gruesome description, could persuade the reader to only thinking worse of Manson. The fact that he is being blamed for Columbine because of his vulgar lyrics and word choice, using that same vulgarity could just render the essay even more ineffective. Half of Manson’s potential readers could respect him for who he is and the other half could despise him for the same reasons.

The Manson essay is indeed unique in its use of word choice and the variations of pathos, and ethos. The essay is effective because it forces the reader to look at the situation from a different angle. By looking back at the Cain and Abel example, and Manson’s description of the event, the reader has to use the story in a whole new context because of how it is presented. This type of critical thinking is provoked throughout the whole essay. Manson does an accurate job of giving practical examples to back up his belief that the media and society are just as responsible for this tragedy as anyone else. Manson’s essay is rhetorically successful, but even through all of this, the essay may only be accessed by few. Not everyone in this world subscribes to “Rolling Stone,” and some might not for the same reasons they don’t like Marilyn Manson, it promotes sexuality and controversial music. The Manson essay was effective if read and willingly interpreted, but that could be a hard task to perform if you were a mother of one of the victims from Littleton, Colorado.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thesis on Oedipus

In the Oedipus Plays of Sochocles, Oedipus is a victim of destiny by the gods. In Ancient Greece, there was a lot that was not understood, so they used gods to explain why things happened. In Greek and Roman mythology fate is depicted by three goddesses, the Destinies, who determine the course of human life. These gods were able to control man’s behavior, which was shown very well in Oedipus the King. Fate played a huge part during this time. It showed the Greek’s idea that no matter how hard someone struggles to change their destiny it has already been predetermined.

Destined to kill his father and marry his mother, Oedipus was guided by fate. As a baby, his parents learned of his destiny and gave him to a shepherd to be killed. Since he had to carry out this destiny, however, Oedipus survived and was adopted by the king and queen of Corinth, Thebes’s neighboring city. Unaware those were not his real parents, Oedipus learned of his destiny and thought he could change it by running away from Corinth. Unfortunately, his prophecy, as warned by the Oracle at Delphi, was absolute and would inevitably come true.

On his was to Thebes, Oedipus, began fulfilling his destiny. He gets in a fight with some men in a carriage and in self-defense kills all except one. One of the dead men was Laius, king of Thebes and Oedipus’ father. The only survivor was the shepherd, who 20 years before was the one who was supposed to have killed Oedipus. “Shepherd- Then… from Laius’ house… that’s where it’s from. They say it was… actually his own. But the queen inside could probably explain.”

“Oedipus- She, she gave it to you?”

“Shepherd- Just that, my lord.”

“Oedipus- With what intention?”

“Shepherd- To do away with it.”

“Oedipus- The child’s own mother?”

“Shepherd- To escape a prophecy too horrible.”

Meanwhile, the city of Thebes was beginning to fall apart. A sphinx had come into town, and everyone coming in had to answer her riddle. If they didn’t answer it, she would eat them. Destined to solve the ancient riddle and free Thebes, Oedipus became a hero. The citizens made him king and he marries Jocasta, the widowed queen and Oedipus’ mother. Here he unknowingly fulfilled another part of his destiny.

Twenty years pass as Oedipus and Jocasta rule Thebes. The gods were disgusted that Oedipus, having killed his natural father, was not exiled or killed due to bloodguilt, and strike a plague on the city. The citizens go straight to their king thinking he will save them as he did before. Oedipus says he will work day and night until he finds the man who killed the former king Laius and seek revenge upon him. “Oedipus- For who knows, tomorrow this selfsame murderer may turn his bloody hands on me. The cause of Laius therefore is my own… I am resolute, and shall not stop till with Apollo’s help all-blessed we emerge, or else we are lost-beyond all purge.” After much talking with the messenger and shepherd, Jocasta and Oedipus both realize the truth... they weren’t able to escape their fate. “Oedipus- Lost! Ah lost! At last it’s blazing clear. Light of my days, go dark. I want to gaze no more. My birth all sprung revealed from those it never should, Myself entwined with those I never could. And I the killer of those I never would.” Jocasta realizes everything she has done, and so she hangs herself. Oedipus was so disgusted with everything that he takes pins and pokes out his eyes so that he is blind. When he goes to Hades he doesn’t want to be able to see his mother and woman he married, or all the deformed children they had together.

Oedipus’ downfall was primarily the result of king Laius’ and his own actions and attempts to defy the gods. After all everyone went through to try and change the fate of Oedipus told by the Oracle, everything still played out as it was supposed too. The Greeks believed strongly in their gods and that nothing could be done to change what was already destined to happen. This idea of fate has existed for a long time and still exists even today in our minds and lives.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Essay on Death of a Salesman

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is a tragic play about an aging and struggling salesman, Willy Loman, and his family’s misguided perception of success. In Willy’s mind, being well-liked is more important than anything else, and is the means to achieving success. He teaches this flawed idea to his sons, Biff and Happy, and is faithfully supported by his wife Linda. Linda sympathizes with Willy’s situation, knowing that his time as an important salesman has passed. Biff and Happy hold their father to impossibly high standards, and he tries his best to live up to them. This causes Willy to deny the painful reality that he has not achieved anything of real value. Willy’s obsession with a false dream results in his losing touch with reality and with himself.

Many times during the play, Willy drifts in and out of flashbacks. Most of these occur during the period when Biff was in high school, and foreshadow the events of the present. For instance, in one of the flashbacks, Biff “borrows” a football from the locker room, and is told by Willy, “Coach’ll probably congratulate you on your initiative.” Obviously, Willy rationalizes Biff’s behavior in addition to his own. In the same flashback, Willy asks Biff, “What do they say about you in school, now that they made you captain?” Willy proudly hears that Biff has a crowd of followers in the halls between classes, and is well on his way to becoming well-liked and successful. The reason Willy tries to maintain the guise of success is to not disappoint his boys who admire him. He wants the best for Biff and Happy; deep down, he hopes that their lives will be better than his.

During the play, Willy loses touch with himself, evidenced by his numerous contradictions. In one scene, he mentions that Chevrolet is “the greatest car ever built,” only to say later that “they ought to prohibit the manufacture of that car.” Willy is an elderly man, his mind is slowing, and he has trouble remembering what he truly believes. When he does have moments of heartbreaking clarity, Linda does her best to buoy his spirits. Willy painfully realizes that people do not seem to like him very much, but Linda reassures that he will do better next time. Later, Linda calls Willy “the handsomest man in the world.” While Linda probably thinks that she is helping Willy by comforting him, she is actually enabling him to continue his self-delusions. Willy needs someone to stir him from his illusion, not someone to reaffirm his beliefs. The idea of the American dream is a significant part of the play. Unfortunately, Willy sees only a portion of the picture- the superficial part. Personality and charisma are important, but hard work, determination, and ethics are more essential. Willy views his life as a childish popularity contest; the one with the most friends wins. His immaturity is most clearly demonstrated in a flashback in which Bernard warns that Biff had better study so he doesn’t flunk math, and Willy dismisses Bernard a nerd. However, as Willy finds out, the quest of being liked by everyone is futile and will never bring true happiness. One of the most humiliating insults was that Willy was fired from his job by his boss, Howard- whom Willy had named when Howard was an infant. Because appearance and popularity are so vital to Willy, he feels utterly disgraced when he is dismissed by a man half his age.

Willy’s sons, Biff and Happy, are also failures. Biff is a thirty-four-year-old man whose favorite memories are from his days as a high school football player. He inexplicably ignored a football scholarship from the University of Virginia, and has not been able to find himself since. Willy cannot understand how everything could have gone so wrong for Biff, who had just come back from a ranch in the West. Willy believes that he has taught him the way to be successful, when really he did nothing but rationalize and condone harmful activities. “I never told him anything but decent things,” Willy laments. Like his brother, Happy is also misguided. He grew up in the shadow of his brother, and attempts to mask his self-esteem issues by surrounding himself with women. He has sordid sexual affairs with the wives of executives at his company, and hates himself for it. After his father commits suicide, he tries to carry on Willy’s unrealistic notions of success.

Reality, in the play, is represented by the character of Charley, the Loman’s neighbor. He is Willy’s only friend, and offers him a job when the old salesman is fired. Willy’s egotism gets in the way, however, and he cannot bring himself to work for Charley, since this would be admitting failure. Charley symbolizes reality- a reality that Willy never acknowledges.

Death of a Salesman is one of America’s most tragic plays, because it tells of disappointment, failure, and death. Ultimately, Willy wastes his adult years trying- unsuccessfully- to prove his worth. He has a misguided philosophy that he passes on to his two children, and can no longer distinguish between reality and illusion. The story of Willy Loman will remain popular because it serves as a warning to all: the question to be asked upon retiring from an occupation is not, “What does the person know?” but rather, “What has the person become?”

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Essay on Strategic Human Resource Management

Schuler and Walker define Human Resource Strategy (HRS) as “a set of processes and activities jointly shared by human resources and line managers to solve business-related problems”. I believe this definition assists on tackling the above question. However, Bamberger and Meshoulam “Conceptualise human resource strategy as an outcome: the pattern of decisions regarding the policies and practices associated with the HR system”. In my view, HRS is a set of ‘processes and activities’ that when implemented, result in an outcome.

In aim to justify this statement by discussing the topic of human resource strategy in relation to the sub-headings listed above. By examining the reasons or ‘rationale’ for the emergence of human resource strategies in the modern business environment, the value, various strategy approaches, types and the concept of fit, I believe I can underline the importance of a well devised HRS to any overall business strategy or plan.

Modern businesses and the economic environments in which they operate are very different from the organizations and economies examined by Chandler in his studies of ‘managerial capitalism’ (late 19th Century through to the 1970s). The development of technology, and the creation of global economies have resulted in a significant increase in efficient and effective competition within all industries operating in market economies. Firms con longer rely on competing aggressively simply on the reliable favorites of achieving economies of scale and creating ‘barriers to entry’ within their markets etc.

Firms have become more market orientated as opposed to production focused (as highlighted by our recent study of Waterford), and this is part of the growth of the tertiary sector in modern business.

The growth of tertiary sector activity in the global dynamic environment has resulted in people (staff) or human resources, as a factor of production, becoming the most important part of this ‘production’ process. However managing people or ‘human resources’ is much more complicated than managing equipment for example, however does allow for much more scope and varying ideologies and techniques.

It is for these reasons that organisations are focusing on human resources as “Companies everywhere are changing the way they manage in order to be competitive”. These firms need to find a new competitive advantage, and the implementation of a HRS that is beneficial and supportive in achieving the overall strategic plan is a means of doing so, or put differently, achieving a desirable outcome through a set of processes and activities.

In this new business culture of ‘strategic management’, fitting every ‘division’s’ strategy in to the overall strategy has become the norm. Human resource management has developed and ‘integrated’ its processes and activities in strategic management, ‘through the new discipline’ of strategic human resource management.

Associated to this point is Barney’s assertion that “Managers must look inside their firms for valuable rare resources and exploit these resources through their organization”.

The emergence of HR strategies can therefore be explained by the development of corporate strategies that firms began to implement as a means of gaining that desired competitive advantage, and creating a clear and effective plan in which to operate the business. In the current environment, good strategic management of human resources by developing a competent set of processes and activities will assist in formulating a desired outcome: a fit between HR strategy and the organisation’s overall strategy.

A significant value of human resource strategies, as opposed to human resource management, is that a HRS ties in with the overall organizational strategy. Employees and all divisions of management must be aware of the firm’s business strategy. Once the human resource departments are directed to devise a strategy to complement and ‘fit’ this overall plan, the lines of communication between staff and the HR department are opened up. The practices and activities implemented by the HR department are recognized by staff as part of a company goal and in effect these practices are given ‘legitimacy’ as the staff realize they part of the long-term goal, and presumably are accepted by top level management.

Miles and Snow refer to the importance of a HRS that fits with the overall organizational plan. They refer to the existence of a ‘corporate human resources group’ who “Should develop its ability to provide assistance to operating divisions to ensure that…these units have human resources programmes that fit their business strategies”.

The lack of a HR strategy, whereby the HR department simply manages according to their specific goals and interpretations of the firms’ needs can conflict with company’s goal and possibly result in the workforce viewing the HR department as peripheral and a nuisance (or certainly as obstructing company objectives). Therefore no careful planning of the activities and processes undertaken by the department can result in an unwanted outcome.

Walker himself intimates this by stating “Only by addressing human resource issues in the context of overall strategic management will managers and human resource staff together achieve the results needed to sustain and develop a business”.

In fact, I believe that the authors I have read on this course so far have all discussed HR strategies not in terms of their value but their necessity. The idea of the HR department conducting itself independent of an overall plan is a non-runner (within efficient and effective organizations of course). Possibly while examining ‘what is HR strategy,’ we should not discuss it in terms of a strategy’s value but the hazard created by not implementing a HR strategy within a firm.

It is generally accepted there are two significant approaches to strategic human resource management. I will attempt to outline these various approaches and how they fit with the view that HRS is a ‘set of processes and activities’ which provide an outcome.

The Universalistic approach, (or sometimes referred to as ‘best practice’ model of HRS) contends that there is a single, ‘universal’ approach and direction that should be adopted by human resources strategy developers. This approach should therefore be introduced regardless of the economic or corporate situation facing an organization or indeed the long term goals of the firm in question. It places an emphasis on communication, teamwork, and the utilization of individual talents (part of ‘soft’ strategic types, to be discussed later in this essay).

This approach, by asserting that one direction should be implemented on organizations regardless of their differing situations, would appear that as part of HRS, it is an ‘outcome’. However, Beardwell and Holden believe it is more flexible than the contingency model, (which I will discuss next). Yet I would question the value of this model or approach in the modern dynamic business world, especially as a global downturn possesses many threats for organizations large and small.

This approach appears to be applicable to successful firms, with a clear long term plan where this approach coincidently fits strategically. Stace and Dunphy declare “Universalist solutions in HR Strategy and practice are probably inappropriate”.

The contingency or ‘situationally-based’ approach is a development of the universalistic approach where one solution or approach be adopted in organizations to deal with different situations. Stace and Dunphy regard this approach as much more useful, “What is needed is a contingency framework of the management process, to help in matching managing processes to the changing business needs of the organization”. In their paper, Stace and Dunphy apply their framework to the changes in Waterford, and stresses from the start the firm must undertake a situationally-based approach opposed to universalistic.

In our discussion of ‘what is HR strategy’, I believe this approach is much more relevant. The underpinning argument of the approach is that the HRM policies and practices (or processes and activities) adopted by organizations reflect their overall competitive strategies. In this sense, HRS is set of processes and activities, which with implementation will bring about an outcome, exemplified by Waterford’s implementation and return to efficiency and profitability.

Storey has stated that human resource management has ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ dimensions. These dimensions of HRM have been adopted in HR strategy, and are part of the processes and activities introduced as part of a HR strategy. Through development of the practices, the various types introduced as part of a HR strategy can define the company’s goals and means of achieving them.

The soft ‘type’ practices views the employee as a valuable resource with emphasis placed on the individual and their development. The worker is seen as a source of competitive advantage and the HR department must focus on ‘people management’. This type certainly has its merits and is adopted in many firms and can be particularly helpful in highly service based businesses.

The ‘hard’ type differs radically. The organizations performance is most important and the firm’s human resource strategy must fit with the overall strategy. Under this view, the individual’s interests may be in conflict with the organizations interests. Strong and effective managerial control must be asserted over staff if long term strategy is to be achieved. This approach is very much ‘outcome’ focused in relation to the question. The hard approach is concerned with the organizations success in the long run, where and effective HRS plays its role.

This would appear to be in contrast to my explanation of the ‘emergence’ of HR strategies, of how firms look to make their staff the ‘competitive advantage’ (familiar to the soft type) etc. Yet, Stace and Dunphy’s article relating to Waterford exemplified the need for hard approaches to HRS, pending on the situation.

Yet the above authors, as well as Catherine Truss in Gratton’s book, found that most firms rarely adopted a ‘pure’ soft or ‘pure’ hard strategy, more a combination of both which aimed to be beneficial to the organisation’s and the individual’s performance. Yet, as one would expect, the organisation’s performance is obviously more important. “Even if the rhetoric of human resource management is soft the reality is almost always hard, with the interest of the organization prevailing over those of the individual”.

As mentioned above, the soft type is often related to the universalistic approach, while the hard type associated to the contingency approach. This does not mean however that either approach or type is defined by the other.

The adoption of either type in a HRS is an example of the set of processes or activities implemented in a HRS, which aims to achieve a successful outcome.

Strategic HRM focuses on the “The pattern of planned human resource deployments and activities intended to enable the firm to achieve its goals”. The authors then claim that two types of congruence or fit exist.

First is ‘vertical fit’ which involves the “Alignment of HRM practices and the strategic management processes of the firm. “Vertical fit is viewed as directing human resources toward the primary initiatives of the organization”.

The second congruence, ‘horizontal fit’ “Implies congruence among the various HRM practices”. “Horizontal fit is viewed as instrumental for efficiently allocating” the resources.

Vertical fit is the main objective of a HRS, and is linked to a contingency based approach whereby creating an overall fit or congruence of the various management strategies (including HRS) is the long term goal. This, in relation to our question, is again assessing HRS as an ‘outcome’.
The horizontal fit is concerned as to how the processes and activities devised by the HR department, and their management of the resources available to them, are implemented within the organization and complementing the ‘vertical’ fit.

Similar as to decision facing firms whether to concentrate on hard or soft strategy types, organizations will obviously place greater emphasis on achieving a vertical fit.

Wright and Snell’s article deals with ‘exploring fit’ and ‘flexibility’ within strategic human resource management. They maintain that simply achieving the two types of congruence will not necessarily mean that an organization is flexible enough, which it requires to be in the modern ‘complex and dynamic environment’.
While at ‘first glance’ these objectives may appear to conflict they “Propose that fit and flexibility are complementary because they focus on different aspects of the organization”. They argue, quite correctly in my opinion, that fit is temporary and dynamic, as it relates to a ‘focus on an interface of two different variables’, ‘internal (HR aspects) and external (strategy) components’, while flexibility is not temporary but a ‘characteristic of an organisation’.

Again, the flexibility of an organization is an outcome of the organizational structure that is in part (but not solely) achieved by horizontal and vertical fit, and incorporating the correct approach to the HR strategy.

The authors do continue to say however, that despite the importance of HRS in developing a ‘flexible firm’, the “Primary role of strategic HRM should be to promote a fit with the demands of the competitive environment”.

While my discussion of ‘fit’ has relied on this one article by Wright and Snell, I felt they best dealt with the ‘concept’, while in their article critiques many other HR authors’ work on the subject.

My aim as stated in the introduction was to explain my rationale for outlining (and loosely defining) HR strategy as a ‘set of processes and activities that when implemented, result in an outcome.

I asserted that the real value of HR strategies lay in their significant input into the firms overall long term objectives or plan. By reviewing the various aspects of the approaches, the types and the different ‘fits’ and flexibility concerning HR strategies, I attempted stress the importance of achieving alignment between HR strategies and the organizations overall plan.

I believe the contingency approach to HRM strategies, with ‘fundamentally hard’ practices will enable an organization to achieve Wright and Snell’s ‘vertical fit’, which integrates strategic human resource management “toward the primary initiatives of the organization”. I believe this to be basis for HR strategy’s existence, and therefore the answer of ‘what is HR strategy’?

However, the implementation of the above strategy, cannot be successful without reference, understanding and often inclusion of the other HR practices and approaches such as the universalistic approach, soft types of HR strategy, and effective horizontal fit. In fact, these are very much part of the HR processes and activities that help create the outcome HR strategies aim to achieve.

What is Human Resource Strategy? HRS is careful selection and implementing of various human resource processes, sets of activities and practices as part of a long term plan by the HR department, which achieves an effective fit with the organisation’s long-term strategy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Essay on Human Resource Management

It can be said that the term ‘human resources management’ became popular in the UK at the latter half of the eighties and at the beginning of the nineties. It has been applied to a diverse range of management strategies and has sometimes been used simply as a more modern term for personnel, employee or industrial relations.

It’s importance lies in its association with a strategic, integrated and highly distinctive managerial approach to the management of the people. The distinctiveness lies in labour being seen as an asset and resource and not as a cost. The strategy is to try to develop this resource to it’s maximum so that emphasis is on the individual employee and on his/her motivation, training and development.

Human Resources Management is defined as proactive rather than reactive, system-wide rather than fragmentary, treats labour as social capital rather than as a variable cost, is goal-oriented rather than relationship oriented, and ultimately is based on commitment rather than compliance.

The key themes upon which Human Resources Management is based include Human Relations psychology, Strategic Management theory, and the doctrines of quality and flexibility. The relative emphasis that is accorded to each of these themes can give rise to different ‘variants’ of Human Resources Management. In particular, it is possible to identify two extreme positions. These are Instrumental and Humanistic. Instrumental approaches draw upon the rational-outcome model of strategic management to view Human Resources Management as something which is driven by and derived directly from corporate, divisional or business level strategy, and geared almost exclusively to enhancing competitive advantage. Humanistic approaches, on the other hand, utilise ‘process’ theory to emphasise the reciprocal nature of the relationship between strategic management and Human Resources Management and the latter’s role in ensuring that competitive advantage is achieved through people but not necessarily at their expense.

One positive consequence of several new approaches to human resourcing has been to force managers to address the basic concepts and values that they routinely use in the evaluation of personnel processes, thereby encouraging a clearer understanding of the overall human resource system. Such an understanding is closely linked to the success with which the performance of human resources can be evaluated. Such evaluation has tended to take two forms: a concern with systems of performance management, and the use of flexible working patterns and organisational structures.

However Human Resources Management is not perfect when you ponder on the point of view of the business goals and interests. It’s extremely hard for a company to achieve maximum profits and efficiency if it takes too much at heart the wellbeing and interests of its employees. This problem can be defined as an ‘integration’ issue where we distinguish the external fit of Human Resources Management with the organisation’s broader business view and the internal consistency of the policy goals of Human Resources Management itself. This is particularly problematic in highly competitive or recessionary conditions where the needs of the business are likely to undermine any internal Human Resources Management issues. For example, if shedding of labour should occur this would challenge, if not destroy, an organisation’s Human Resources Management image of caring for the needs and security of it’s employees.

The fundamental problem with Human Resources Management is that in most cases Human Resources issues are subordinate and secondary to business strategy. It is not simply that the search for profit overrides the policy goals of Human Resources Management, but arguably that Human Resources Management is pursued only in the belief that by raising employee’s commitment, flexibility and quality of their work the bottom line will be improved.

The contradictions within Human Resources Management are most apparent at the level of actual practices, with simultaneous advocacy of workforce attributes such as individualism and teamwork, commitment to a job and flexibility and development of a strong culture and adaptability. In identifying the tension between individualism and teamwork, for example, what these cases demonstrate is the need for a redefinition of Human Resources Management, for despite any surface similarity with the textbook checklists of Human Resources Management policies these cases could certainly not be described as operating a form of ‘development humanism’. The internal contradictions, which plagued Human Resources Management, are well illustrated by the issue of employee commitment. For proponents of Human Resources Management, commitment represents a key dimension because it’s sometimes assumed that highly committed workers are more productive.

Conflicts are apparent too where organisations have attempted to introduce more flexible working arrangements and performance-related pay. The problems with flexibility began partly from the tensions between different sources of flexibility. While soft forms of Human Resources Management encourage employee development through the learning of a broader range of skills, hard forms of Human Resources Management advocate the securing of greater variability in the volume of labour, therefore providing management with greater scope to match labour input to demand fluctuations. In addition, however, conflicts exist within each of the major sources of flexibility. For example, the danger exists of securing high levels of functional flexibility at the cost of other organisational objectives such as stability, continuity and cohesion. Likewise forms of numerical flexibility potentially clash not only with the objective of securing employee commitment but also with establishing and sustaining high quality output and group cohesion.

Performance-related pay, to emphasise the more purposeful and ‘object achieving’ focus of Human Resources Management, would seem not only to have failed to yield high levels of commitment in many organisations, but also to have perpetuated a longstanding tradition in wage and salary administration of ‘muddling through’. While a strategy for reward may need to be part of a wider human resources development strategy, reward in itself is not sufficient to promote human resource contributions to corporate improvement. More importantly, however, individual reward systems could well act to undermine co-operation, teamwork and even individual motivation. And these are all key elements of Human Resources Management.

These and other conflicts and contradictions evidenced by the different contributions underline the problematic status of Human Resources Management as a coherent concept. Rather than seeing this as an excuse for abandoning the notion of Human Resources Management altogether, however, the evidence presented would seem to support a more careful circumscribing of Human Resources Management, and a clearer definition of its status as a set of management practices. In doing so, the relationship between Human Resources Management and the longstanding core issues of labour management like issues of power, control, conflict, resistance, dependence, consent, etc. Human Resources Management is one of a series of approaches management may take to secure the levels of compliance and co-operation it requires. Different sets of circumstances will influence the adoption of one approach over others, while changing circumstances will encourage a shift from one to another and possibly the creation of new practices and approaches.

The central objective of Human Resources Management policy is to secure the commitment of employees to innovation and commitment of employees to innovation and continual improvement of product quality. Some measures of employment security and considerable investment in training and development are seen as essential supports for management effort in this area. Equally, the recruitment and retention of competent and committed staff is supported by competitive pay and reward structures which are perceived as fair. At the level of the workplace, these strategies require significant change in management behaviour. The crude assertion of managerial prerogative, associated with short-term low-cost approaches, is eschewed in favour of employee involvement in problem solving and fostering of a climate of operation and trust.

Human Resources Management has been dependent upon the changing economic circumstances of the past decade. It grew in the boom of the last half of the past decade, when attachment, commitment and development were the watchwords. It faced it’s sternest test in the severe recession of the first half of the nineties with its emphasis on restructuring, downsizing and a big reduction in both employee and managerial confidence in the prospects for renewed growth. For this reason Human Resources Management is now tinged with suspicion and a certain hostility as to its role in organisations. The difficulty for Human Resources Management is to establish its credentials as a central part of employee management in economic conditions that make the expansionary and development aspects of the approach extremely difficult to sustain.

While Human Resources Management has proved possible for traditionally conceived industrial relations and personnel management procedures to have endured economic cycles, even though the managerial strategies underlying them reflected the realities of the labour market, Human Resources Management has still to demonstrate that it has the robustness to move beyond generalised managerial prescriptions as a sustainable model of management. In this sense, this decade will be the testing ground for the idea of Human Resources Management as a consistent and integrated approach, as opposed to a fragmented and opportunistic set of interventions.