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Nowadays Human Resource Management plays a more and more important role in business administration (Elias and Scarborough, 2004). Upon the development of information technology, e-HRM becomes available and will be expected to replace the conventional HRM gradually. This research will explore what the features and advantages of implementing e-HRM by comparing with the conventional way and why it is preferable. Furthermore, whether e-HRM could facilitate the corporation makes superior performance will be found.
The conventional HRM encompasses several activities designed to arrange and coordinate human resources within an organization in order to create even more profit (Byars & Rue, 2004; Storey, 2001). However, HRM is a more integrated way of implementing the different functions, covering a wider business strategy inside the corporation (Storey, 1992). The process of this kind of HRM needs a large number of HR managers and assistants. Accordingly, it costs highly but works inefficiently in current society which requires more efficiency and effectiveness.
E-HRM is the new style of HRM with the overlap between information technology and human resource management (Ruel, Bondarouk and Velde, 2007). It is short for electronic human resource management. Or it can be said that using information technology (IT) in HRM is called e-HRM (Zhang & Wang, 2006). It is a new HRM concept based on the advanced software and hardware to accomplish the targets of cost reduction, efficiency, improvement of the employment relationship, automatic information management, and self-support system for employees and information sharing (Panayotopoulou, Vakola, & Galanaki, 2007). Operating e-HRM with the existing network of the corporations could help administrators to ensure their HRM is well-developed.
Comparing with the old style or the conventional HRM, e-HRM introduces much more information technology such as HRIS (human resource management information system), into the management process, helping to integrate the human resource and other resources both inside and outside of the organization and set up strategic HRM system for considering much of the corporation in microscope. Finally it could help corporation to create the competitive advantages (Ruel, Bondarouk, and Velde, 2007).
The previous research introduced e-HRM practice mainly according to case study in different countries, but neither compared it with the old way of HRM, nor generalized the general features, advantages and problems in e-HRM practice (Panayotopoulou et al., 2007; Ruel, Bondarouk, and Velde, 2007; Zhang and Wang, 2006). This research will adopt the comparative study to find out the essential differences between e-HRM and conventional HRM which reflects the features, advantages and problems of e-HRM. E-HRM is not only simply uses of IT in HRM, but also focus on B2B and B2C of HRM through software usage, so that e-HRM achieves the connection of HRM and the resource outside and viewing employees as inside customers. This might be the most remarkable difference between conventional HRM and e-HRM and what e-HRM really means.
Aims and methodology:
The purpose of this study, by exploring historical and current e-HRM application, is to help people to understand e-HRM and provide new information for corporations which intend to transform conventional HRM to e-HRM in order to catch on the pace of the new era, so are the companies producing e-HRM solutions. Meanwhile it makes contribution to e-HRM research and the development of e-HRM.
This proposal has several objectives as followed through comparing e-HRM and the traditional HRM.
To provide a comprehensive explanation of e-HRM based on finding out the features and advantages of e-HRM.
To investigate the contribution of e-HRM to HRM effectiveness and corporate performance.
3. To explore the usage of up to date HR software and suggestions on development of e-HRM.
The primary research questions of this proposal are listed as follow:
What are the advantages of implementing e-HRM compared with the conventional HRM, and why is it preferable?
The proposal will seek the answer by comparing them from different perspectives of implementary process, function and effectiveness. At the same time, the reasons why it is preferable will be investigated.
Whether e-HRM contribute to the HRM effectiveness and facilitate the corporate performance and how?
Through the interviews and secondary data collection, this study intends to find out the qualitative answers to this question. In spite of the absence of the quantitative data to test the reality of the findings, it could explain the facts of e-HRM practice to some extent.
Taking the classic HRM theories and research method theories as the foundation of this study, data collection combined secondary data from books, journals and websites and primary data from observation and interviews with three organizations in New Zealand conducting conventional HRM and using or have intention of using (likely to become user of) e-HRM in New Zealand respectively. According to this information, the differences between e-HRM and conventional HRM, the features and advantages of e-HRM will be established. In addition, the contribution of e-HRM to HRM effective and corporate performance, and the problems and controversies of e-HRM practice will be investigated and evidences will be given through conducting interview. Thus those managers who want to transform their HRM might get some benefit from this study and those who produce e-HRM software could reference the information. In a word, it intends to convince people that e-HRM brings transformation and becomes the mainstream of HRM in the IT era. Moreover this study will be helpful to anyone who works in HRM.
In the last two decades, as the business competition changed to the competition of talents, the value of people in an organization is upgraded and became significant. Since people are considered as the most valuable assets in the organization through the emerging trends, human resource management frequently becomes evident and at the heart of the business management to respond to new types and levels of competition.
At the beginning, management of people emerged with the development of industry and then turned into mature with the theory of human resource was built. There are three phases in general, personnel management, human resource management (HRM) and strategic human resource management (SHRM) which is more preferable in recent times.
At personnel management stage which is before 1980s, it was only a marginal task which was separate and subsidiary in corporate plan (Storey, 1993). It was limited in some insignificant tasks including recruitment, selection, assignment, payment and file management. All these activities were short-term oriented and implemented within the personnel management department that never related to corporate strategies or higher management. Managing people is just makes them work in order and always comply with the manager or organization. In early 1980s, strategists recognized that employees are not only the factor of production as land and capital, but more as the valuable assets (Odiorne, 1985 cited in Storey, 1993, p.29), so the term "human resource management" flourished and personnel management increasingly given way to human resource management. Moreover managers paid more attention on the integration of the separate functions. Afterward, in the mid 1980s, in order to achieve competitive advantage, mere integration within the HR department is not sufficient. Employees should be better regarded and involved into the corporate strategy to seek commitment, retain them and make them contribute to the corporate performance more directly (Boxall & Purcell, 2000). Therefore, the term strategic human resource management which is a linkage of HR functions with strategic goal and organizational culture that fosters innovation and flexibility (Mabey, 1998) replaces HRM. Since then, SHRM became the key task which at the central to the corporate plan and was integrated with other parts of the organization in forming the corporate strategies (Storey, 1993). It facilitates the corporate to achieve more and better.
As the popular term of e-commerce and e-business, e-HRM is short for electric human resource management. Just as its name implies using electronic techniques in HRM is called e-HRM (Zhang & Wang, 2006). Or it refers to conducting HRM transactions using the internet and intranet along with other technologies (Lengnick-Hall and Moritz, 2003; Roberts, 2006). Some other exact definitions are available. Singapore researchers defines e-HRM as 'the use of electronic media and active participation of employees to provide technology that helps to lower administration costs, improve employee communication, provide quicker access to information and reduce processing time'. (Osman and Hashim, 2003) Hooi (2006) indicated that 'e-HRM is basically connecting staff and managers with the HR department electronically through the HR portal'. (Hooi, 2006) All of them described the key features of e-HRM in the definitions.
The aim of e-HRM is making information of each HRM functions available to everybody from top executive to line managers and employees at any time and any where (Panayotopoulou, Vakola and Galanaki, 2007). At the same time, it could provide connections with external resource such as the recruitment information to applicants. By extensive using of computers, IT and network, it achieves self-service management that allows employees to control their own personal data, communicate both upward and downward instantly, analyze their situation and make decisions, without bothering the HR department (Panayotopoulou, Vakola and Galanaki, 2007). Simultaneously it helps people work without any paper. To accomplish these great achievements, an important medium is the e-HRM software or e-HRM system which evolutes with the HRM demands increasing.
The term e-HRM was first used in 1990s (Panayotopoulou, Vakola and Galanaki, 2007). This is an era marked by the increased globalization and intensification of competition which facilitated by the speeding up of worldwide communication and the emergence of multinational companies on account of the extensive using of IT. (Eplee et al., 2002; Farndale and Brewster, 2005) As a result, the international division of labour asked for better HRM solution (Legge, 2005; Frauenheim, 2006) and HRM faced a challenge that it was required new competencies to adapt to the new information age (Ulrich, 1997; Spanos et al, 2002).
Using of computer in business management was the first step that management evolutes from conventional style to the e-style. Firstly, the role of management should be understood, according to classical management scientists such as Taylor and Mintzberg, managers have to fulfill interpersonal roles as a leader, informational roles as monitor and disseminator, and decisional roles as entrepreneur and resource allocator (Barnatt, 1994). To help managers in accomplishing these roles, primary computer-based information system emerged with the naissance of computers. Then with the popularity of internet, the web-based information system appeared. These advantaged information systems may make managers easier to achieve their goals in management. (Gupta and Kohli, 2006) When the strategic HRM has expanded, researchers and practitioners began to interest in operating information system to enhance the efficiency of strategic management (Powell and Dent, 1997; Manley, 1996). Thus information systems have been broadly employed in management.
In order to answer the research questions, the most appropriate methods are used to collect data, through both secondary research and primary research. The reasons for the methods selected and how the research will be conducted is explained. Inevitably there will be some limitations in this research. This study conducted qualitative strategy, because qualitative study is concerned with words rather than numbers, which is the most obvious difference from quantitative research (Bryman & Bell, 2003). As multiple research methods are suggested to be used in empirical qualitative research, (Silverman, 2005) this study will combine observation and interviewing together to get the general conclusion through induction.
"The process of induction involves drawing generalizable inferences out of observations (Bryman & Bell, 2003, p.12)." This study adopted the comparative design (Bryman & Bell, 2003), based on the plenty of secondary data, using more or less identical standards in comparing two contrasting situations, conventional HRM and e-HRM. Finally, bringing together the research strategy and research design, according to Bryman and Bell (2003), there is a typical form associated with the combination of qualitative strategy and comparative design. It always adopts qualitative interview on two cases. In this study, observation and qualitative interviews will be implemented on the situations of both conventional HRM and e-HRM practices used by two different corporations.
Stage 1: Literature Review; Proposed Duration 10 Months
Stage 2: Data Collection; Proposed Duration 04 Months
Stage 3: Data Analysis/Research Design, Structure; Proposed Duration 04 Months
Stage 4: Results/Findings; Proposed Duration 06 Months
Stage 5: Writing-up Research; Proposed Duration 06 Months
To sum up the secondary and primary research methods listed above, on the one hand they are the most appropriate ways to collect data, and on the other hand some limitations still exist. Firstly, secondary data lacks reliability and validity that could only be used to support the primary findings to some extent. Secondly, in the primary research, the interviewees were not chosen from a very broad area that might not represent all the situations.