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Reality and rhetoric: Sources of power for the human resource department in organizations

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Title: Reality and rhetoric: Sources of power for the human resource department in organizations
Author(s): Galang, Maria Carmen Castrence
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Ferris, Gerald R.
Department / Program: Labor and Employment Relations
Discipline: Labor and Employment Relations
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Business Administration, Management Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations
Abstract: Commentaries have been made on the increasing influence of human resource management (HRM) in organizations. However, the role of the human resource (HR) department in this development has not been examined. This study investigates the sources of power of the HR department, and accounts for differences found in the power among HR departments across organizations.A model that integrated two perspectives of intraorganizational power was proposed, arguing that the source of subunit power is grounded both in objective reality, and in the subunit's ability to create and sustain a perception of reality that also enables it to claim power within the organization. Both contextual conditions, as well as the actions taken by the subunit were argued to be determinants of subunit power. For the particular case of the HR department, these contextual factors are manpower requirements of the organization's technology, characteristics of its workforce, competitiveness of the business environment, pressures from unions, and pressures from legal requirements. Actions taken by the HR department are intended primarily to influence perceptions and beliefs with regards to the importance of its function.Survey results from 234 organizations found that not all hypothesized predictors were significantly related to HR department power. Further, not the same predictors were found to be significant for the different measures of department power, and that some of the relationships were in the opposite direction hypothesized. The results were discussed in the light of possible methodological limitations, as well as necessary conceptual revisions. The opposite direction in relations could indicate that the underlying mechanism driving the relationships among the variables may not only be the notion of critical contingency as argued in the proposed theoretical framework, but also those of the notions of competence-reward, and competing interest groups. Overall, however, support was found for both the functionalist and interpretive perspectives in explaining HR department power.Suggestions were also made for future research that follows from focusing on HR department power, such as the initial establishment of a separate HR unit, consequences of a powerful HR department, application to other types of subunits and organizations, and dimensionality of symbolic actions.
Issue Date: 1994
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/21673
Rights Information: Copyright 1994 Galang, Maria Carmen Castrence
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9512366
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9512366
 

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