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Strategic Human Resource Management


Office Phone:

(02) 2514-6528; 0910-562323

Home Page:



nienyu@dragon.nchu.edu.tw; nienyu@gmail.com

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Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) is about diagnosing and developing

an organizations capability to achieve its goals and implement its strategy. While this
course will acquaint you with some best practices for organizing and managing people to
compete, the primary focus will be on how to lead an organization through a process of
self examination, redesign, and change that results in sustained effectiveness. The theory
of this course is that knowing about someone elses best practice is useful but
not usable. Knowing how to manage a process that enables the organization to
discover its strengths and limitations and reinvent itself develops usable
knowledge and sustained improvements in the organizations capability to
compete. Throughout this course I will use concepts and ways of thinking intended to
develop your skills to analyze the capability of your organization and people to achieve its
goals and implement its strategy. The concepts I intend to develop throughout the course
are defined briefly below and will be placed into an analytic model. I hope you will apply
this model to case analysis in the course and, through exercises in this semester, to your
own organization. The concepts will be defined and elaborated as the SHRM course
To integrate the conceptual and applied material, the primary course material will be
a series of cases illustrating both successes and failures. You will also be provided with
supplementary readings and lectures that will supply concepts and frameworks. Each case
will provide an opportunity to use the conceptual material in an analytic way. To help focus
your analysis, a set of study questions for each case is included. These can be used to
guide your case preparation.


Textbook: Mello, Jeffrey A., (2002). Strategic Human Resource Management. SouthWestern, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Additional Cases/Exercises as deemed necessary




1. HBS Case Presentations and Class Participation 30%

Because this is a case-based class, in addition to assigned GROUP HBS (Harvard Business
School) case presentations, each student is required to be an active participant in case
discussions. Your participation grade will reflect my assessment of your total contribution
to the learning environment. This includes not only the presentation of the cases and
frequency of your contributions in class, but also their quality. Quality, includes, among
other things: (1) sound, rigorous, and insightful diagnosis (e.g. sharpening of key issues,
depth and relevance of analysis); (2) ability to draw on course materials and your own
experience productively; (3) ability to advance or sharpen in-class discussion and debate,
willingness to take risky or unpopular points of view, use of logic, precision, and evidence
in making arguments; (4) professionalism of your conduct (attendance, punctuality,
preparedness, and showing respect to all section members and their class contributions).
Unexcused absences and lack of preparation will be counted heavily against your grade.
2. Individual Application Exercises 70%TBA
In this application exercise, you are asked to apply to your organization the concepts
and sequence of analytic steps general managers and human resource specialists must
follow if they are to diagnose and improve their organizations capability to implement
strategy and satisfy stakeholders. In effect, I am asking you to document and
analyze your own organizations case, and think about action implications, much in
the same way we will be doing in class with cases about other companies.
To align organization and management practices with strategy, managers must be
able to

Develop strategy.


Articulate and communicate the strategic taskwhat the organization and its
members must do to implement the strategy.


Define requisite capability levels needed to implement the strategic task.


Collect data about strengths and weaknesses in organizational capabilities.


Diagnose the cause of strengths and weaknesses, particularly why they exist and
how they are affecting stakeholder satisfactionfinancial performance, customer
and employee satisfaction. Look for causes in poor alignment between various
elements of organizational architecture and strategy or environment. Of course,
poor performance may be a function of poor alignment between strategy and
competitive environmenta bad strategy. That strategy may be bad due to
weaknesses in style/leadership behavior.


Design a new organizational modelhow the business ought to be organized and

managed differently to overcome weakness and bolster strengths in capability
needed to implement the strategic task/s more effectively.


Manage a process of organizational change, including the data collection and

diagnostic steps above, in such a way that all strengths and weaknesses are
revealed, root causes are diagnosed, and the new organization design reflects the
diagnosis. Too many organizational changes do not adequately address underlying
root problems.

Choosing an Organizational Focus for the Exercise

I suggest that you choose as the focus for the exercise the organization you head or
that you serve as a functional or staff executive. If you head or serve a major business
unit or sector in your company, then that is the appropriate organization for analysis. If
you work at the corporate level, the corporation will be your focus.
To understand how to define a boundary for the analysis, I suggest that you visualize
the larger corporation as a pyramid of organizational sub-units. At the bottom are plants,
branches, sales districts or functional departments. These are grouped into business units;
the business units are grouped into sectors, regions, or the company (depending on the
size of your company), and so on.
If you focus your analysis at the corporate or sector level, you should include heads
of line and staff units and departments below them whose coordination is essential in
accomplishing the corporate strategic tasknot people and units primarily engaged in
implementing the strategy of individual business units or plants. Ask yourself, what
businesses, departments, groups and levels must coordinate their activities to implement
the corporate strategy?
If your focus is a business unit, your analysis should include functional heads and
those below them whose coordination is key to accomplishing that units strategy.
In large corporations there are many units. I urge you to limit your analysis to those
people and groups whose interdependence is essential in implementing and reformulating
strategy of your unit.
What Question Should You Answer?
You can begin this analysis in two ways, through a deficiency that you identify, or by
asking the more general question, Is my organization effectiveis it aligned with
Analyses that begin with a defined problem or deficiency are easier to engage. For
example, financial performance may be low, or employees or customers are dissatisfied.
You now work backwards in the modelfrom right to leftasking what strengths and
deficiencies in capability are causing these problems, and what aspects of organizational

architecture are causing these deficiencies in capability and how. Alternatively, you may
begin with a deficiency in a capability like coordination. You then work forward and
backward. Working forward, you ask what effect has this had on stakeholder satisfaction?
Working backward, you ask what elements of organizational architecture have caused this
Analyses that begin with the general questionis the organization effectivewill start
on the left side of the diagnostic model with strategy, and move forward or to the right.
Having defined the strategy, you will want to ask what capabilities are essential, and then
ask whether they exist to the degree needed. When you identify a deficiency, analyze its
consequences in stakeholder outcomes, and its causes in the architecture.
Both approaches to this exercise will lead you to answer the same question: is my
organization effectiveis it aligned with strategy in such a way that all stakeholders are
satisfied and committed, and how do I make it more effective?
We will leave more fun to our future meetings to reveal.



Cases/Readings before Class




An Investment

Mello, Ch. 1 (Readings 1.1 & 1.2);

Perspective of HRM

Case: Southwest Airlines Using

Human Resources for

Competitive Advantage (A)

Strategic Execution and

Mello, Ch. 2

Economic Value: Internal

Case: Human Resources at the

and External Alignment

AES Corporation: The Case of

the Missing Department,

Stanford Case #HR-3

The Strategic Importance

Mello, Ch. 4 (Readings 4.1, 4.2,

of HR; The Role of the HR

4.3); Ulrich, Dave. Human


Resource Champions: The Next

Agenda for Adding Value and

Delivering Results. Boston, MA:
Harvard Business School Press,
1998, pp. 23-31 and 231-254.

Guest Speaker, TBA

Mello, Ch. 5 (Reading 5.3)

Case: MacTemps: Building
Commitment in the Interim

Workforce. HBS #9-497-005

Individual Exercise 1 Due

Work Systems

Mello, Ch. 6 (Reading 6.1)

Cases: New United Motors

Manufacturing, Inc (NUMMI),

Stanford Case #HR-11

Performance Management

Case: Morgan Stanley:

Becoming a One-Firm Firm,

HBS #9-400-043


Guest Speaker: Tony

Mello, Ch. 8 (Readings 8.1 & 8.2)

Tong , Associate

Individual Exercise 2 Due

Vice President, HR
Division, BenQ Corporation

Performance Appraisal

Case: Rob Parson at Morgan

Stanley (A), HBS #9-498-054

Cindy &

Rob Parson at Morgan Stanley

(C), HBS #9-498-056

Training and Development

Mello, Ch. 9 (Readings 9.1 & 9.2);

Case: The Men's Wearhouse:

Success in a Declining Industry,

Stanford Case #HR-5.

Compensation Systems

Mello, Ch. 11 (Readings 11.1 &


Case: Visionary Design Systems,

HBS #9-495-011
Individual Exercise 3 Due

Information Sharing

Mello, Ch. 13 (Reading 13.1)

Case: PSS World Medical: The

Challenges and Growth and the

Financial Markets, Stanford
Case #HR-12

Guest Speaker: Dorothy


, Sr. VP &

Head of HR Taiwan, HSBC


Managing Service Workers

Case: Harrah's Entertainment,

Inc.: Rewarding Our People HBS

Student Case Presentation: TBA
Individual Exercise 4 Due

Student Exercise
Presentation: TBA


Student Exercise
Presentation: TBA


Student Exercise
Presentation: TBA



Individual Exercise 5 Due

Assignment Questions

Southwest Airlines: Using Human Resources for Competitive Advantage

(A), Stanford Case #HR-1.


What is Southwest's competitive strategy? What are the sources of its success?
How does it make money?


What are the foundations of Southwest's competitive advantage?


How are these sources of competitive advantage produced and sustained by what
the organization does and how it does it?


To what extent are Southwest's sources of advantage difficult to imitate and likely
to persist over time?


To what extent is Southwest's success based on Herb Kelleher?


How serious is the competitive threat? To what extent can United and/or
Continental duplicate Southwest's business model? Why or why not?


Human Resources at the AES Corporation: The Case of the Missing

Department, Stanford Case #HR-3


What are the core competencies and sources of competitive advantages of AES?


What are its basic values and operating principles?


Make an argument for why the company needs to and should add an HR function
to the firm. What kind of HR function (the characteristics of its staff, its functions,
etc) do you have in mind?


Make an argument for why the company shouldn't add an HR function.


What would human resources have to be and do to cause you to change your
answer to question 4?


What do you see as the future for human resources and its relationship to line
management in large, global firms?

Case: MacTemps: Building Commitment in the Interim Workforce. HBS #9-497005


How would you account for MacTemps success? Does it have a sustainable source
of competitive advantage?


Should MacTemps attempt to increase the commitment of temps to the firm? What
is the value of commitment to the firm?


What actions would you recommend to strengthen MacTemps performance?

New United Motors Manufacturing, Inc (NUMMI), Stanford Case #HR-11


What is motivating the workers at NUMMI?


What are the design elements of the Toyota team-based manufacturing system?


Why has General Motors had so much trouble learning from NUMMI and Saturn?


Jamie Hresko is now running one of GM's largest assembly plants. What advice
would you give him for how he might introduce some of the NUMMI methods to
this facility?


Morgan Stanley: Becoming a One-Firm Firm, HBS #9-400-043

What do you think of Macks strategy for increased integration? Is this compelling
to you? Why or why not?


Given his strategy, what do you think of his emphasis on revamping the
performance management system? What are the pros and cons of implementing a
new system of the type being discussed?


If Mack is to be successful at changing the strategy and culture at Morgan Stanley,

what other actions would you recommend he take? What other HR levers should he
be thinking about using?


Given your answer to question #3, what recommendations do you have for how he
should proceed? How should he implement these changes?


Rob Parson at Morgan Stanley (A), HBS #9-498-054

Rob Parson at Morgan Stanley (C), HBS #9-498-056


What is your assessment of Rob Parsons performance? Should he be promoted?


Using the data in the cases, please complete the Evaluation and Development
Summary presented in Exhibit 3 of the Rob Parson (A) case. Show your
assessment to the class and ask for challenges.


If you were Paul Nasr, how would you plan to conduct the performance appraisal
conversation? What would your goals be? What issues would you raise and why,
and how would you raise them?


If you were Rob Parson, how would you conduct yourself in the performance
evaluation meeting? What are your goals? Be prepared to role-play the appraisal
conversation in class as either Nasr or Parson.


The Men's Wearhouse: Success in a Declining Industry, Stanford Case


How has The Men's Wearhouse been able to take market share away from
competitor's? What is their source of competitive advantage?


What do you think of Zimmer's philosophy and approach to leadership?


Economists might argue that Zimmer is investing in general human capital; that is,
the skills employees are trained in can be used in other retail settings. According to
human capital theory, firms generally should invest in only firm specific human
capital. Why has this investment paid off for The Men's Wearhouse?


Can Zimmer's approach be easily imitated by his competitors? Why or why not?


Visionary Design Systems, HBS #9-495-011.

What is the basic philosophy and values of VDS?
How would you characterize the VDS compensation (base, bonus, and stock)
system? On what principles is it based?


Why has VDS had problems with its Product Data Management effort? To what
extent do you see incentive issues as important? What other issues are important?


What should VDS do about the Product Data Management (PDM) problems?


Would you make any changes to VDS' compensation systems? What? Why?


PSS World Medical: The Challenges and Growth and the Financial

Markets, Stanford Case #HR-12


Evaluate PSS's strengths and weaknesses. What have been their key success


Do you agree or disagree with Kelly's emphasis on the importance of growth for


Should Kelly try to take the company private? What does he gain or lose if he does


Can Kelly's

approach be replicated in other industries?

Harrah's Entertainment, Inc.: Rewarding Our People HBS #9-403-008.


What were the challenges facing Gary Loveman when he took charge?


What were the key changes he undertook?


What were the consequences for employees?