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Truss, Mankin, & Kelliher: Strategic Human Resource Management


The glossary terms are arranged alphabetically. Access the hyperlinks below to easily locate various sections in the glossary. You can also access the full version in PDF format.

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Added value
Added value is about identifying what really matters to key stakeholders and delivering the services and products that achieve this. In many respects it builds on the total quality management ethos of delivering products and services that create 'customer delight'.

Aesthetic labour
Aesthetic labour refers to circumstances where physical appearance and 'embodied capacities and attributes' form the basis of employment. In other words, part of paid employment is concerned with how people look, sound, and present themselves.

AMO model
The AMO model suggests that employees perform well when they have the necessary skills or ability to do so, the motivation to perform, and are given the opportunity to perform by their line managers. HR policies and practices can impact on AMO and thus give rise to higher levels of performance.

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Balanced Scorecard
The Balanced Scorecard was developed by Kaplan and Norton (1998) as a tool to help managers find holistic ways of measuring organizational performance.

Black box
The 'black box' refers to the unknown processes that occur between HR interventions, on the one hand, and performance outcomes, on the other. One focus of research has been to find an appropriate theory to explain how this 'black box' works in order to better explain why and how HRM might impact on performance.

Blended learning
Blended learning is where a range of learning methods, underpinned by a range of learning theories, are combined or blended together. This usually involves some form of e-learning as part of the combination.

Business ethics
Business ethics 'is the study of business situations, activities, and decisions where issues of right and wrong are addressed' (Crane and Matten, 2007: 5).

Business strategy
Business strategy sets out an organization's strategic scope or direction; essentially, the markets it wants to compete in (Grant, 2010). It is important to note that business strategy is often referred to as corporate strategy.

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Capabilities are 'the capacity of an organisation to use resources, get things done, and behave in ways that accomplish goals. They characterise how people think and behave in the context of the organisation. . . . Capabilities define what the organisation does well' (Ulrich and Brockbank, 2005b: 49). See also core competence.

Career development
Career development is a planned and structured response to the career aspirations of key employees.

Change management
Change management involves planned change and change agency. Planned change is an approach to managing change that assumes that change is an activity that can be managed and organized, and led by senior managers. Change agency is the practice of leading and managing change. A change agent is a person or group of people within an organization tasked with managing change.

Coaching is where a peer or manager works with an employee to motivate the employee, help him or her develop skills, and provide reinforcement and feedback (Noe, 2002: 452).

Code of conduct
A code of conduct sets out the way in which employees or members of an occupational group are expected to behave when carrying out their work responsibilities. Also referred to as a code of ethics.

Codification is based on the assumption that it is possible to encode knowledge as text, figures, or digital data. Many observers argue it is information rather than knowledge that is being encoded in this way. See also knowledge management.

Cognition involves the development of representations or mental models of the world around us within an individual's mind (Bowden and Marton, 2004). See also situated cognition.

Communities of practice
'Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis. . . . Over time, they develop a unique perspective on their topic as well as a body of common knowledge, practices and approaches. . . They will tend to organise along friendship lines or within local geographical or organisational contexts rather than cover the whole organisation’ (Wenger et al, 2002: 4–5, 13).

Competence is the ability of an individual to do a particular job to a high standard.

Competencies are 'a broad grouping of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that enable a person to be successful at a number of similar tasks' (Blanchard and Thacker, 2004: 9).

Competitive strategy
Competitive strategy is about how an organization will compete in those markets identified in the business strategy.

Contingency theories
Contingency theories assume that approaches to SHRM will vary in different contexts.

Continuing professional development
Continuing professional development (CPD) is an ongoing learning process that focuses on developing professional expertise and the ability to learn more effectively. Pivotal to CPD is the concept of reflective practice (i.e. the ability to reflect critically).

Core competence
Core competence is the combination of an organization's technologies with the knowledge, skills, and abilities of its employees. It determines the viability and competitiveness of an organization. See also capabilities.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
Corporate social responsibility 'encompasses the economic, legal, ethical, and philanthropic expectations placed on organisations by society at a given point in time' (Crane and Matten, 2007: 49).

Corporate university
The corporate university is an extension of an old-style training school model found predominantly in the US. In many respects it is a branding exercise that copies the traditional university model and is designed to signal to stakeholders a strategic-level response to learning and development.

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Development is much broader than training and usually has a longer-term focus. It is concerned with the enhancement of an individual's personal portfolio of knowledge, skills, and abilities (i.e. competencies). See also education.

Devolution refers to HR managers passing responsibility for HR tasks over to line managers. This can take various forms, varying from total devolution accompanied by the removal of the HR function entirely, to simply asking line managers to fill out relevant forms. It can apply across the full range of HR activity, or just certain areas, such as recruitment.

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Education can range from courses in basic literacy and numeracy through to postgraduate qualifications such as an MBA. National HRD policies have a very strong focus on education.

E-learning is a learning and development delivery system that relies on technology and normally requires the learner to engage in self-directed study. It is not a learning theory.

Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is about dealing with emotions effectively and can be viewed as an ability or competency (McEnrue and Groves, 2006).

Emotional labour
Emotional labour is where employees are expected to manage their emotions as part of their paid employment.

Employee engagement
Employee engagement is a state experienced by individuals in relation to their work that involves investing intellectual energy into thinking about the task, physical energy and absorption in the task, and positive emotional energy and enthusiasm in relation to task fulfi lment. It has also been variously proposed that engagement includes a social dimension and positive connections with others, or that it incorporates long working hours, but there is as yet no general agreement about these latter two.

Employee voice
The term 'employee voice' refers to circumstances where employees are given the opportunity to have some input into organizational decision making.

Employer branding
Employer branding is 'the practice of developing, differentiating and leveraging an organisation's brand message to its current and future workforce in a manner meaningful to them . . . [and] is aimed at motivating and securing employees’ alignment with the vision and values of the company’(Price, 2004: 263).

Engagement strategies
Engagement strategies are workplace approaches used by employers with the aim of raising levels of employee engagement.

Evaluation is concerned with measuring the impact training or learning has had on individual performance in the workplace and the contribution this makes to overall organizational performance.

Explicit knowledge
Explicit knowledge is formal, abstract, or theoretical knowledge which relies on an individual's conceptual skills and cognitive abilities.

External fit
See vertical strategic alignment.

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Facilitation is about guiding and supporting a learner or group of learners with the minimum of input.

Free-market capitalism
Free-market capitalism is characterized by the free markets, privatization, and deregulation. In theory free-market capitalism is characterized by self-correcting mechanisms that avoid any necessity for state intervention. These mechanisms are embedded in a globally integrated fi nancial market which has been made possible through advances in technology.

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Globalization is about the creation of a borderless global economy that allows unhindered movement of finance, products, services, information, and people.

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High-performance work practices
'High-performance work practices' refers to a bundle of HR practices that is expected to yield positive performance outcomes at the individual and organizational levels. However, there is little consensus as to the precise practices that should be in the bundle, and the evidence as to their impact is mixed.

Horizontal fit
See horizontal strategic alignment.

Horizontal strategic alignment (also referred to as horizontal alignment and horizontal fit)
Horizontal strategic alignment is the process by which HRD strategy, policies, plans, and practices are aligned with an organization's HRM strategy, policies, plans, and practices.

HR architecture
HR architecture is where HR strategies are likely to be varied, with different approaches selected for different employee groups.

HR strategy
HR strategy refers to the strategy that an organization adopts for managing its people. Some firms do not have an HR strategy, but all will be driven by employment law to have appropriate policies in place for managing people. Organizations may have one overarching HR strategy and/or different strategies for managing different groups of employees. HR strategies may be explicit and documented, or implicit.

Human capital
Becker (1964, 1975) popularized Schultz's (1961) human capital theory that organizations derive economic value from employees' skills, competence, knowledge, and experience. Shultz (ibid) argued that human capital can be developed through education and training.

Human resource development (HRD)
Human resource development encompasses a range of organizational practices that focus on learning: training, learning, and development; workplace learning; career development and lifelong learning; organization development; organizational knowledge and learning.

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Informal learning
Informal learning is essentially learning that is 'predominantly unstructured, experiential, and non-institutionalised', (Marsick and Volpe, 1999: 4), with the control of learning resting primarily in the hands of the learner (Marsick and Watkins, 1990).

Intellectual capital
Intellectual capital comprises the intangible assets of an organization, including both human capital and social capital.

Internal fit
See horizontal strategic alignment.

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Knowledge is a complex, multifaceted concept which lacks a universal definition. It is often discussed as comprising explicit and tacit dimensions. See also explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge.

Knowledge intensive firms
Knowledge intensive firms (KIFs) are organizations that employ a signifi cant number of employees who are engaged in knowledge work.

Knowledge management
Knowledge management is a strategic approach to the control and/or nurturing of organizational knowledge.

Knowledge work
Knowledge work involves being engaged in complex activities and tasks that are characterized by autonomy and judgement, such as that carried out by professionals, scientists, and consultants.

Knowledge workers
Knowledge workers are employees who are engaged in knowledge work (i.e. those engaged in complex activities and tasks that are characterized by autonomy and judgement, such as that carried out by professionals, scientists, and consultants.

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There is no universal definition of learning. Learning at the individual level is about the acquisition of new knowledge and how this changes the individual in some way (e.g. in terms of how they think about something, or how they carry out a task, or how they behave). See also lifelong learning, social and situated learning, and reflective practice.

Lifelong learning
Lifelong learning is the ongoing acquisition of knowledge and skills by study and experience throughout the duration of an individual’s career.

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Mentoring involves a more experienced and usually more senior person helping a less experienced employee through discussion and guidance. It is a developmental relationship which is focused on supporting the employee’s ability to achieve his/her career ambitions.

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National human resource development (NHRD)
National human resource development is intended to provide a coherent set of policies for the social and economic development of a country. It encompasses a wide range of concerns, including public health, environmental protection, diversity, education, and vocational training. The way in which NHRD is handled varies from country to country.

National vocational education and training (NVET)
National vocational education and training is focused on developing a country's human capital and represents a strategic response to the long-term skills needs of its indigenous private, public, and non-profit sectors.

New institutionalism
The new institutionalist framework is based on the idea that external pressures on organizations will exert a homogenizing effect, leading to similar solutions being adopted by firms in the same industry.

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Organization development (OD)
Organization development is a systematic and methodical approach to the management of change that is aimed at improving organizational performance and competitiveness.

Organizational change
There are several types of organizational change, including the following. Transformational change: a wide-reaching and fundamental change of an organization's strategy, culture, and structure. Incremental change: a small-scale change affecting only part of what an organization does, such as introducing a new technology or restructuring a department. Punctuated equilibrium: periods of incremental change interspersed with transformational change.

Organizational culture
Organizational culture is a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, which has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel, in relation to those problems (Schein, 1992: 12).

Organizational structure
Organizational structure is the way in which an organization is designed in order to support the competitive strategy.

Outsourcing involves contracting with external organizations or individuals who possess specialist expertise and can fulfil specific projects for an organization, instead of employing an in-house function or individual specialist.

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Pluralistic ideology
Confl ict in the employment relationship is seen as inevitable, since both employers and employees are seen as seeking to maximize their own interests—employers might want higher productivity and reduced costs, whereas employees might want higher wages in return for their labour. In this perspective the approach for employers is to attempt to manage conflict, rather than to avoid or suppress it.

Psychological contract
The psychological contract is the set of unwritten reciprocal expectations between an organization and an individual employee (Schein, 1992). It reflects the existence of an emotional as well as an economic attachment to the organization, which is highly subjective and subject to change (Boxall and Purcell, 2008).

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Reflective practice
Reflective practice involves thinking critically about specific incidents and examining what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. The outcome of this process is often some form of learning that involves an adjustment to how we think and act in the world.

Resource-based view (RBV)
The resource-based view of the firm is based on the premise that firms can achieve sustained competitive advantage if they secure and effectively deploy resources that are not available to, or imitable by, their competitors.

Resource dependency
Resource dependency theory argues that firms are dependent on others in their network for important resources, and that the nature of the dependency relationship will impact on the leeway available to the firm to choose its own solutions to managerial dilemmas.

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Shared service centres
Shared service centres can be established, often around a call centre or intranet that is accessible to everyone in the organization and that is set up to answer queries. Shared service centres benefit from economies of scale and accessibility; they can be in-house, part-outsourced, or fully outsourced.

Shareholder theory
Shareholder theory gives priority to profit maximization based on a corporation’s legal obligations to generate shareholder wealth (Key, 1999). This is consistent with an economic perspective on globalization.

Situated cognition
Cognition is situated in the workplace and distributed across group members, and learning occurs as a result of social interaction between group members.

Social capital
Social capital is 'the sum of actual and potential resources within, available through, and derived from the network of relationships possessed by an individual or social unit. Social capital thus comprises both the network and the assets that may be mobilised through that network' (Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998: 243). See also intellectual capital.

Social learning
Social learning, or as it is often termed social cognitive theory, is where learning takes place as a result of engaging in social activities. This includes passive engagement, such as observation and listening, and active engagement, actually contributing to discussions.

Social networks
Social networks are informal groups that emerge and evolve in the workplace but have weaker ties than communities of practice and tend to span organizational boundaries.

Stakeholder theory
Stakeholder theory looks beyond profit maximization and focuses on social and environmental values, based on a corporation's moral obligations to all those who have a stake in the business (Freeman, 2011). This refLects a social perspective on globalization.

Strategic alignment
See horizontal and vertical strategic alignment.

Strategic human resource development (SHRD)
Strategic human resource development is when HRD strategy, policies, plans, and practices are vertically and horizontally aligned and learning is embedded in the organization's strategic processes.

Strategic management
Strategic management is the process that enables organizations to turn strategic intent into action. It comprises four phases: analysis, selection, implementation, and review.

Strategic partner
Strategic partner refers to the role adopted by the HR function whereby the focus is on HR activities in supporting the strategic direction of the organization.

Supply chain
The supply chain is the network of organizations that are involved in the processes that create value for customers in the form of products and/or services.

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Tacit knowledge
Tacit knowledge is the practice or skills dimension of knowledge which accrues over time. It is often referred to as an individual's skills or expertise. Spender (1996) describes tacit knowledge as automatic knowledge in acknowledgement of Polanyi's assertion that 'we can know more than we can tell' (1967: 4). It is difficult to articulate tacit knowledge because it is so deeply embedded within an individual's experience, judgement, and intuition (Ahmed et al, 2002).

Talent development
Talent development is the strategic allocation of HRD resources aimed at developing top talent in an organization.

Talent management
Talent management focuses on 'key employees' or 'top talent'. Top talent can be defined as 'employees who routinely exceed expectations while exhibiting the right behaviours and are agile in learning and approach. These are people who customers pay a premium to do business with and others strive to work with' (Morgan and Jardin, 2010: 24).

Training involves planned instruction in a particular skill or practice and is intended to result in changed behaviour in the workplace leading to improved performance.

Training method
Training methods are the different ways in which specific elements within an intervention can be delivered to learners.

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Unitary ideology
The unitary ideology promotes a common purpose and shared values and ways of behaving. Teamwork and employee commitment are emphasized. Anyone who challenges this ideology is treated as dysfunctional and subjected to training or disciplinary action.

Universalist theories
Universalist theories are predicated on the assumption that there is 'one best way' to manage people (e.g. best practice).

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Vertical fit
See vertical strategic alignment.

Vertical strategic alignment (also referred to as vertical alignment and vertical fit)
Vertical strategic alignment is the process by which HRD strategy, policies, and plans are aligned with an organization's strategic goals and objectives.

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