The Role of HR Strategies in Change

The Role of HR Strategies in Change

Ashish Malik (University of Newcastle, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0196-1.ch010
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This chapter reviews the commonly understood tasks of change and the role an organisation's human resource management (HRM) function plays in designing and implementing effective change management. Highlighting the key HRM practices, this chapter outlines the relationship between various HR strategies for managing change. This chapter develops a framework of key HRM practices that underpin the commonly understood tasks of successful change management. Drawing upon examples of successful case studies and the author's research on the dynamic and changing high-technology information technology (IT) industry in India, this chapter provides examples of linking strategy, HRM practices and change, thus developing a framework and identifying implications for theory and practice. The chapter also identifies several future research propositions linking the HRM and change management literatures.
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Organisations often respond to changes in their external and internal strategic environments by considering planned and ad hoc approaches. Most organisational changes are driven by external forces such as, the impact of global financial crisis, technological change, and changes in the product and factor markets, wherein such forces have a profound impact on the nature and extent of work organisation and work practices (e.g. Malik, 2013; Smith et al., 2004). It has been widely acknowledged in the extant literature that in response to external competitive pressures, organisations often resort to implementing new management practices such as total quality management, high performance work practices (HPWPs), lean management, business process reengineering, and organisational development interventions (Smith et al., 2004; Harvey & Brown, 2006). Despite the inevitable need for managing organisational change in today’s hyper competitive environment, there exists an extremely abysmal rate of success of most change management initiatives (Huber, 2003; Kotter, 1995; Nilakant & Ramnarayan, 2006). Further, the costs associated with failed change management initiatives has far reaching consequences on the financial sustainability of organisations as well as on the well-being of people who are affected by such changes. One of the most commonly cited reason for failure of change management initiatives is the inability of organisations to deal with organisational inertia (Nilakant & Ramnarayan, 2006). Most change management initiatives that fail often underestimate the strength of organisational inertia. Organisational inertia is developed through sustained levels of social interactions between people, technology and systems. Such interactions gradually lead to the formation of an organisation’s routines and mental models. Routines are like formulae that people carry in their minds for executing their day-to-day tasks. Successful organisational change requires changing the mindset of people and managers in organisations. It has thus far been argued that managers must actively identify the key routines that are causing strong organisational inertia and attempt to alter or remove such routines and develop new ones to deliver successful change management (Giddens, 1984; Schien, 1989; Nilakant & Ramnarayan, 2006).

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