Modeling Human Resources in the Emergent Organization

Modeling Human Resources in the Emergent Organization

Marielba Zacarias (Universidade do Algarve, Portugal), Rodrigo Magalhães (Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal) and José Tribolet (Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-304-3.ch014
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This chapter will address the role of national culture on e-recruitment practices in India and Mexico. The GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness) cultural study on 61 countries will be used to discuss the role of cultural dimensions on e-recruitment practices in these two countries. The chapter will also discuss the beginnings of e-recruitment trends in India and Mexico, challenges of e-recruitment for United States multinationals, national culture profile, and implications for multinational managers. This conceptual chapter will provide hypotheses for the cultural dimensions discussed. Specifically, this study will address the role of power-distance, in-group collectivism, gender egalitarianism and uncertainty-avoidance on e-recruitment practices.
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An agenda for Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) research is put forward by Magalhaes and Ruel (2008), who propose an integrative perspective for HRIS research, and stress that research in organizational and information systems cannot be separated. They argue that the integration of HRIS within organizations can be seen as an intricate web of many causes and consequences and that HRIS cannot be studied separate from the organizational context where they are interwoven. This assertion has two main implications; (1) when researching HRIS from an integrated perspective, it is crucial that the researcher approaches the topic from an appropriate ontological point of view, and (2) the scope of Human Resource Management (HRM) should not only include applications to support traditional HRM functions, but also frameworks to capture, analyze, and eventually modify the behavior of human resources (HR). Such frameworks should be developed accordingly to the ontological position defined. Social emergence is the ontological point of view defended by those authors. Sawyer (2005: 213) explains that the emergence paradigm research “focuses on the micro-interactional mechanisms by which shared social phenomena emerge and on how those emergencies constrain those mechanisms”.

In this paper we discuss an issue, which is relevant to HRIS, i.e. the problem of modeling individual-level behavior in the context of broader organizational action. Hence, it is important that the problem under review is placed within an ontological framework of the organizational phenomenon. Ontology and methodology are two sides of the same coin, meaning that the methodology used to research a particular phenomenon will depend entirely on the ontological perspective that one holds. It is submitted, firstly, that the emergence of the organizational phenomenon depends to a large degree upon the alignment between the individual and the organization. Secondly, that such alignment cannot be taken for granted; rather, it requires conscious, systematic and continuous efforts. Thirdly, that the alignment of the individual and the organization can be facilitated by (1) the development of a semi-formal models of agent behaviour at different organizational levels and (2) methods and tools to build, update and analyze the representations based on those models.

Whereas current modeling efforts are mostly directed at organizational perspectives, little attention has been paid to individual or inter-personal perspectives. Several approaches to modeling organization strategy, processes and resources have been developed. However, models for individual or inter-personal levels are scarce and have typically, different purposes. Research is needed to address the modeling of individual and interpersonal behaviors and the definition of proper ways of linking these behaviors with perspectives of higher organizational levels. More specifically, research is needed to raise awareness and to illustrate the benefits of aligning individuals and the organization. The aims of such modeling are as follows:

  • Enabling the organization to capture and visualize different concerns of individual behavior.

  • Enabling individuals to understand the relationship of their daily actions with organizational resources and activities.

  • Facilitating the analysis, discussion and (re)design of individual and inter-personal work.

Organizational modelings are of interest to HRIS due to the closeness of this category of information system and all organizational phenomenon. If organizations are defined essentially as groups of people working for a common goal, then it is clear that any information system dealing with human resources will tightly interwoven with the organization itself. There are many schools of thought in organizational modeling but in this paper we are particularly interested in a school of thought guided by the following principles: (1) agents have acting, deliberation, and learning capabilities, (2) agent exhibit multiple behaviors that depend of specific contexts of execution, and (3) such behaviors should be captured from agent actions and interactions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Agent: Term given to individual and collective human resources of organizations

Alignment: Degree of shared understandings achieved among interacting agents.

Ontology: Branch of philosophy concerned with theories of reality. Ontological assumptions or positions concern the essence of phenomena.

Emergence: Phenomenon through which complex systems and patterns emerge from multiple simple and local interactions. Emergence is central to the theory of complex systems.

Methodology: Assumptions about the appropriate research approaches to generate valid evidence. Certain research methods have a natural affinity with certain ontological assumptions.

Work Practice: Particular ways that individuals or groups have of accomplishing their activities. Work practices are always defined by specific agents and contexts.

Context: Situations created and continually modified by agent interactions.

Autopoiesis Theory: Theory that argues that living systems are organizationally closed, autonomous, and self-referent systems. These three aspects provide them auto-creation or auto-renovation capabilities.

Agent Architecture: Organizing principles of agent models. The typical agent architecture commonly defines three layers; action, deliberation and change/learn layers. Each layer addresses a different behavioral concern of agents.

Enterprise Modeling: Term commonly used in defining efforts to model organizations in terms of different, but interrelated perspectives. Several enterprise modeling frameworks including concepts, methodologies and tools have been developed mostly within Information Systems and Artificial Intelligence disciplines. Within the information systems discipline such frameworks are commonly known as Enterprise Architectures, while in Artificial Intelligence they are better known as Enterprise Ontologies.

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