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ISSN 1392-2785 ENGINEERING ECONOMICS. 2008.

No 5 (60)
WORK HUMANISM

The Role of Human Resources and Their Management in the Establishment of


Sustainable Competitive Advantage
Rta Kazlauskait, Ilona Buinien
ISM Vadybos ir ekonomikos universitetas
E. Oekiens g. 18, LT-44254, Kaunas
There is an ongoing debate in research over the
source of organisational competitive advantage. Strategy
theorists have looked for it in both external and internal
environments of business. However, given such challenges
of the global business world as the need to increase
productivity, expand into global markets, implement new
technologies, attract and retain high-performing
workforce (Burke, 2005), and the fact that traditional
sources of competitive advantage (e.g. natural resources,
access to financial resources, economies of scale, etc.) no
longer suffice (Pfeffer, 1994), growing relevance has
recently been attributed by both researchers and
practitioners to human resources and their management.
However, there is no consensus in scientific literature
as to what in particular serves as a source of competitive
advantage the possession of unique and valuable human
resources, or their effective management. Drawing on
prior research, this paper is aimed at further developing
the dispute by looking into the role of human resources
and their management in the enhancement of
organisational effectiveness.
First, to unravel the centrality of human resources in
the organisation, this paper draws mainly on the
propositions of the resource-based view, which, contrary
to the external environment approach, suggests that
organisational resources and capabilities serve as a
strategic foundation for the organisation (Barney, 1991;
Grant, 1998). The paper also looks into the features of
human resources which make them of strategic value for
an organisation: human resources qualify for a source of
competitive advantage, for they possess specific features
which make them valuable, rare, inimitable, dynamic, etc.
To better disclose the role of human resources in the
organisation, the paper also juxtaposes different
approaches to the very concept of human resources.
Respectively two strands of the concept definitions are
discussed: generalist (Wright et al, 1994; Fisher et al,
2006; etc.), and distinctive (Barney, 1995; Grant, 1998;
Kamoche, 1999).
Next, the paper provides some insights on the high
relevance of human resource management in the
enhancement of organisational effectiveness.
Drawing on the above analysis of the relevance of
human resources and their management, the paper
supports a unifying approach, i.e. acquiring and
sustaining of competitive advantage necessitates both a
pool of unique, valuable, and inimitable employees and
effective people management practices.

Finally, in addition to the resource-based view, the


paper provides an overview of a number of other theories
that look into the source of competitive advantage by
comparing and contrasting the role they ascribe to human
resources and their management in the creation of
competitive advantage. Respectively internal, interactional
and external sources of competitive advantage are
analysed and discussed in the paper.
Keywords: human resources, human resource management,
resource-based view, competitive advantage.

Introduction
The world of business becoming more and more global
and demanding, nowadays organizations are forced to seek
for new means to withstand fierce competition and succeed
in their operations. Among the challenges they have to
face, the following ones are viewed as the most critical
ones: the need to increase productivity, enhance
organisational capabilities, expand into global markets,
develop and implement new technologies, respond to more
demanding customer needs and changes in the highly
volatile marketplace, increase revenue and decrease costs,
attract and retain high-performing and flexible workforce,
introduce and manage relevant organisational change, etc.
(Burke, 2005).
In response to the above demands, businesses have
persistently been searching for new means to improve their
performance, while researchers have been putting effort in
an attempt to determine such possible sources of
competitive advantage (CA) at both conceptual and
empirical levels.
It is now generally believed that human resources and
their management serve as a strategic asset to the
organisation. However, there is an ongoing debate in
scholarly publications, as to what in particular leads to the
development and sustainability of competitive advantage
in the organisation human resources, or the way they are
managed? Therefore, this paper will look into the ways
that different approaches to the development of
competitive advantage perceive the contribution of human
resources and their management in the enhancement of
organisational effectiveness.
Research object is human resources and human
resource management, as well as their role in the creation
and sustainability of competitive advantage.

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Research question. What role do human resources


and their management play in the establishment of
sustained competitive advantage?
Research method. The paper is built on the analysis
and synthesis of scientific literature on strategic
management and human resource management.

Organisational resources as a source of


competitive advantage
Strategy researchers and practitioners have been
putting persistent effort in an attempt to understand and
unravel potential sources of competitive advantage. In
their search for an answer, they have been looking into
both external and internal environments of the organization.
Though both, external and internal perspectives are
undoubtedly relevant to the development of business
success, until the 1990s, a considerably greater attention
was given to the external environment approach, and the
strategic analysis mainly focused on the industry
environment and competitive positioning of the organization
(Barney, 1991, 1995; Grant, 1991, 1998). Human resource
management was viewed under this perspective merely as
a tool for reinforcing the organizations generic strategy
(Schuler, Jackson, 1999; Boxall, 1999), or support
activity in the value creation chain (Porter, 1998).
In the 1990s, however, having realized that traditional
sources of competitive advantage, such as natural
resources, access to financial resources, technology,
protected or regulated markets and economies of scale had
become increasingly easier to imitate and thus lost their
strategic power, strategy researchers and practitioners
started searching for new strategic possibilities (Pfeffer,
1994; Becker, Gerhart, 1996). As a result a resource-based
view (RBV) of the firm was developed, in which the focus
of strategy specialists shifted from the external environment
to the internal context of the organization, and the greatest
emphasis was laid on the crucial role of organizational
resources and capabilities, which were viewed as a
strategic foundation of the organization and the primary
source of competitive advantage (Barney, 1991; Grant,
1991, 1998). Proponents of this view argued that
organisations should focus on acquiring, deploying,
developing, and retaining their resources rather than the
competitive position in the market (Colbert, 2004).
Following the resource-based view, rapid changes in
technologies and customer preferences make the marketfocused strategy too unstable for building a long-term
strategy; instead, business strategy should be based on the
deployment and development of the unique features of
organisational resources and capabilities (Grant, 1991,
1998). To avoid any possible terminological confusion, it
should be said that organisational resources are defined as
organisational assets such as, for example, human
resources, intellectual capital, capital equipment, which,
however, do not have the potential of establishing a
competitive advantage in isolation (Grant, 1998).
Accordingly, resources have to be utilized in bundles, or
combinations, which then lead to the development of
organizational capabilities that can be viewed as a source
of competitive advantage. Similarly Prahalad and Hamel
(1990) maintain that the establishment and sustainability

of a competitive advantage rests on the organizations


ability to determine, develop and nurture core
competences, which they define as collective learning in
an organization, while Lado and Wilson (1994) propose
that the creation of competitive advantage necessitates
organisational competencies which include all firmspecific resources and capabilities that enable the
organization to develop, choose, and implement valueenhancing strategies.
It is also noteworthy that a distinction is made between
a competitive advantage and a sustained competitive
advantage. Barney (1991) argues that the first means the
implementation of a strategy that is not followed by current
or potential competitors, while the latter means not only
the possession of such a strategy, but its non-duplicability
as well. To act as a potential source of a sustained
competitive advantage, a resource has to posses the
following attributes: be valuable, rare, inimitable, and nonsubstitutable (Barney, 1991). Besides it is also argued that
resources have to be relevant (Grant, 1998) and dynamic
(Johnson, Scholes, Whittington, 2005). These additional
features are emphasised taking into consideration such
circumstances of the contemporary business world as
hyper-competition, rapidly changing environment and
volatile customer needs and expectations, which clearly
necessitate dynamic core competencies, i.e. organizational
ability to adjust and develop competencies to meet the
needs of the fast altering environment.
Among other classifications of organisational resources
(e.g. Barney, 1995; de Wit, Meyer, 2004), Grants (1998)
typology comprises three major kinds of resources:
tangible (financial and physical), intangible (culture,
reputation and technology), and human. Though all the
above types of resources are essential for organizational
success, human resources and their management have
recently been viewed crucial in the attainment of
organisational success (Ulrich, Lake, 1991; Pfeffer, 1994;
Wright, McMahan, McWilliams, 1994; Becker, Gerhart,
1996; Kamoche, 1999; Wright, Dunford, Snell, 2001;
Doorewaard, Benschop, 2003).

The relevance of human resources in the


enhancement of organisational effectiveness
The centrality of human resources is usually accounted
for by the fact that nowadays organizations are facing such
challenges as a need to increase productivity, expand into
global markets, develop new technologies, respond to
changes in the highly volatile marketplace, increase
revenue and decrease costs, develop skilled and flexible
workforce, and introduce changes (Burke, 2005), which, of
course, emphasises the significance of human resources
and capabilities.
What makes human resources a valuable, rare,
inimitable resource having no substitutes that may lead to
the establishment and sustainability of a competitive
advantage? To respond to the above question, it is
necessary to first clarify what is meant under the concept
of human resources. As seen from Table 1, definitions of
human resources can be categorised under two broad
strands: generalist and distinctive.

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The first category mainly comprises concepts offered


by the HRM perspective, where human resources
comprise all people under employment at a particular
organisation. The second category, though, lays emphasis

on employee abilities, knowledge, attitudes and


experience. This strand of definitions has its roots in the
resource-based view, and considers human resources a
strategic asset of an organisation.
Table 1

Juxtaposition of human resource concept definitions


Approach

Emphasis

Distinctive
approach

Skills

(RBV)

Abilities

Knowledge
Attitudes

Author

Definition

Grant (1998)

Productive services that human beings offer to the firm in terms of their skills, knowledge,
and reasoning and decision-making abilities.

Kamoche

Accumulated stock of knowledge, skills, and abilities that the individuals possess, which
the firm has built up over time into an identifiable expertise.

(1999)

Barney (1995)

All the experience, knowledge, judgement, risk taking propensity, and wisdom of
individuals associated with a firm.

Wright et al (1994)

The pool of human capital under the firms control in a direct employment relationship.

Gmez-Meja et al
(2007)

People who work in an organization. (Also called personnel).

Fisher et al (2006)

People who work for an organisation.

Experience
Wisdom

Generalist
approach
(HRM)

People

It should be taken into consideration, though, that the


HRM approach does not reject or aim to minimize the
centrality of human resources in the organisation. What is
covered by the distinctive approach to human resources is
reflected in the HRM definition of human capital. For
instance, Dessler (2005) defines human capital as the
knowledge, education, training, skills, and expertise of a
firms workers, which is parallel to the RBV definitions of
human resources. As a discipline, HRM is more focused
on the ways of effective people management, thus it views
human resources in a broader sense. Besides, it should be
taken into account that the HRM approach is not unyielding
or undivided. It comprises a number of attitudes to HRM
conceptualisation (hard vs soft). And it is specifically
the view to human resources, or the body of employees, that
distinguishes the above two HRM approaches. Under the
hard approach, employees are considered one of the
organisations resources and should thus be managed in the
same ways as any other resources in the organization, while
HRM effectiveness is associated with cost minimisation
rather than investment in human capital (Kane, Crawford,
Grant, 1999). The soft model of HRM acknowledges the
importance of taking into consideration multiple stakeholder
interests. A particular focus is laid on employees as an
important group of stakeholders (Beardwell, Clark, 2007)
and a distinct resource that cannot be managed as any other
resource and whose interests and needs have to be taken into
account (Price, 2007).
So what makes human resources a source of competitive
advantage? According to Wright, McMahan, McWilliams
(1994), human resources can be considered rare, as value
for the organization is usually created by individuals with
high cognitive ability, which is distributed throughout the
total labour population and is rare by definition.
Furthermore, historical differences among organizations,
causal ambiguity of the linkage between human resources
and competitive advantage, and social complexity of
human interactions make human resources inimitable.

Finally, human resources can be viewed as nonsubstitutable due to their potential to withstand the time
test of becoming obsolete and ability to be transferred
across technologies, products, or markets.

Centrality of human resource management


The resource-based view has undoubtedly highlighted
the critical role of human resources in establishing and
sustaining competitive advantage. However, there is an ongoing debate as to what in particular provides value to the
organization human resources, or their management.
As discussed earlier in the paper, some authors maintain
that sustained competitive advantage lies in the human
resources and not in HR practices per se, as the latter are
well known and hence not rare and easily imitable and
substitutable (Wright, McMahan, McWilliams, 1994). Other
authors, though, provide counterarguments and maintain that
competitive advantage is created through HRM practises
and not human resources, as it does not suffice to hire best
people to surpass the competition. To build an
organizational capability, employee competences need to be
developed and retained through effective HR management
(Ulrich, Lake, 1991; Pfeffer, 1994; Becker, Gerhart, 1996;
Boxall, Purcell, 2003). Pfeffer (1994) proposes that
sustained competitive advantage can be achieved through
HRM and organizational culture, as in this case its source is
less visible. Besides, being a complex system, HRM is
difficult to imitate. The author also maintains that the
achievement of organisational success through people
requires an attitudinal change of managers towards their
workforce and employment relations, i.e. employees should
be viewed upon as a strategic asset, and not a means of cost
minimisation.
Becker and Gerhart (1996) provide two arguments in
support of the above idea. They second Pfeffers (1994)
proposition that human resource strategies make a complex
system, which inhibits the understanding of the interplay

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between its mechanisms and value generation. Secondly,


HR policy and system development is path dependent, i.e.
it is a lengthy process and is resistant to immediate
replication.
Huselid et al (1997) maintain that to achieve
competitive advantage through human capital organizations need to be in possession of human capital that is
value adding, unique, inimitable and non-substitutable,
while to meet these conditions a set of HRM practices is
required. Batt (2002) distinguishes three dimensions of
HRM systems that lead to the acquisition and retention of
the relevant human capital: first, recruitment of people
with respective skills and investment in their initial
training; second, work design that fosters discretion and
continuous learning through cooperation with co-workers;
third, performance-based incentives.

A unifying approach to the critical role of


human resources and their management
In the debate over what constitutes the source of
competitive advantage human resources, or their
effective management, a third group of authors proposes a
unifying attitude to the critical role of both human
resources and HRM in the enhancement of organisational
effectiveness and competitiveness, and argue that both
human resources and their management are essential in the
development and sustaining of competitive advantage. For
instance, Kamoche (1999) maintains that, on the one hand,
human resources contribute to the development of
competitive advantage through behavioural manifestation
of expertise, and on the other hand, HRM leads to the
possession of organisational ability to align human
resources with strategy, as well as retaining such human
resources.
Given the propositions of Lado and Wilson (1994),
Grant (1998), Prahalad and Hamel (1990), and Kamoche
(1999), it can be argued that a mere possession of
individual resources does not lead to the establishment and
sustainability of a competitive advantage; the latter calls
for building resources into a core competence, or
organisational capability. Hence, high quality human
capital needs to be supported by effective HRM to be of
competitive value for the organisation.
In his evolutionary approach to human resources,
Mueller (1996) takes the dispute further still by
maintaining that managerial practices alone cannot turn
human resources into a valuable strategic asset. Instead, it
is a result of social architecture, i.e. social patterns of a
developmental process, which due to its lengthy and
undefined evolutionary nature is difficult to replicate for
competition. Besides the author argues that human
resources alone cannot qualify for a resource mobility
barrier that would inhibit a resource imitation.
Respectively human resources may lead to sustained
competitive advantage when used in combination with
other organisational strategic assets. Mueller (1996) also
emphasises the relevant role of tacit knowledge, thus
proposing that explicitly defined and formalised HRM
practices do not form basis for the development and
sustainability of competitive advantage. Boxall (1999)
proposes that a distinction should be made between

human capital advantage and human, or organizational


process advantage, where the first embraces hiring and
retaining high quality people with tacit knowledge, and the
latter refers to processes, which are history sensitive,
socially complex, and causally ambiguous. Each of these
two advantages may lead to value creation; however,
according to Boxall and Purcell (2003), they work best in
combination with each other. Besides the authors maintain
that though human resources may be viewed as a source of
competitive value, they have to be managed to lead to the
establishment of a sustained competitive advantage, which
in turn necessitates an HRM system, for it, in contrast to
single HR policies and practices, is inimitable (Boxall,
Purcell, 2003).
Ulrich and Brockbank (2005) build their HR value
proposition on the following five elements: knowledge of
external environment, meeting needs of external and
internal stakeholders, development of HR practices,
organising human resources, and effective HR function.
These criteria point to the significance of both human
resources and their effective management, and support the
idea that to create value for the organization the two have
to work in close combination.
Lawler (2005) maintains that though the value of HR
function is undoubted, it could be further enhanced by
assuming a business partner role in the organisation and
offering the following three lines of products:
administrative services (e.g. hiring, training, etc.), business
partner services (e.g. HR system development), and
strategic partner services (e.g. strategic differentiation of
HR practices).
Wright, Dunford and Snell (2001) propose that in
order to acquire a sustainable competitive advantage an
organization has to be superior in all areas of strategic
HRM: human capital pool (knowledge, skill, ability),
employee relationships and behaviour (psychological contract
and organizational citizenship), and people management
practices (staffing, training, rewards, appraisal, work design,
participation, recognition, and communication).

Different approaches to HR and HRM value


perception
Having briefly discussed the resource-based view to
strategy formulation, it should be mentioned, however, that
though this perspective has undoubtedly highlighted the
critical role of human resources in the obtaining and
sustaining of competitive advantage, it is not the only or
the best strategic perspective that organizations should
follow in an attempt to enhance their effectiveness and
excel rivals. It is noteworthy that in their propositions on
human resources, the resource-based view has been
criticised for the neglect of the context specifics and
human side of employees, i.e. their demographic
characteristics and physical and psychological conditions,
as all of these factors may have an impact on employee
skills and competences (Doorewaard, Benschop, 2003).
Therefore, the paper will attempt to consider these critical
considerations and will incorporate context and people
specifics into the HRM-performance analysis.
In addition to the resource-based view, the critical role
of human resources and their management in the

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development of a sustained competitive advantage is


supported by other theories, such as, for instance, the
knowledge-based view (Price, 2007) that emphasises the
critical role of unique knowledge ownership; the role
behaviour theory, which maintains the necessity of
different role behaviours for different means of strategy
implementation and views HRM as a primary means of
behaviour management; and the human capital theory,
which assumes that the value of human resources, just as
any other type of capital, lies in their ability to contribute
to organizational productivity (Schuler, Jackson, 2005).
Stavrou and Brewster (2005) point out to the following
four perspectives that acknowledge the significance of
human resource management in the establishment of
sustained competitive advantage: 1) organizational learning,
i.e. creation of competitive advantage through innovation,

change and rapid renewal; 2) external and internal fit of


organizational practices, resources, and capabilities; 3)
engagement in change processes, identification of threats
and opportunities, and acting as an intermediary between
stakeholders and the business; 4) core competency
development and deployment. To a certain extent, the
above views can be considered extensions of the resourcebased view, or at least closely interrelated and overlapping
perspectives; therefore, they will not be discussed in more
detail in this paper.
It should be mentioned, however, that the critical role of
human resources and their management is mainly supported
by the proponents of the internal source of competitive
advantage, such as resource-based, competency-based, and
knowledge-based views (see Table 2).
Table 2

The role of human resources and their management in the creation of competitive advantage

EXTERNAL

INTERACTIONAL

INTERNAL

CA
source

Approach

Author

HR value

HRM role

CA basis

Resource-based
view

Barney (1991, 1995)


Grant (1991, 1998)
Kamoche (1999)

HR as a resource (viewed
critical by some authors)

HR value optimisation

Input-based competency
contributing to valuable
product/service
development
Core employee knowhow as a strategic
resource

Competency
development and
deployment

Valuable, rare, inimitable &


non-substitutable bundles of
resources and capabilities
Managerial, input-based,
transformational & output-based
competencies

Competencybased view

Lado & Wilson (1994)

Knowledgebased view

Grant (1996, 1998)

Business
network view

Strandskov (2006)

HR as relationship
builders & cultivators

Behavioural
perspective

Schuler & Jackson


(1999)
Wright & McMahan
(1999)
Delery (1998)
Ferris (1999)

HR role behaviours as a
mediator between strategy
and organisational
outcomes
Human capital as a
mediator between HRM
and performance

Means of stimulating
role behaviours required
by competitive strategy
Performance
enhancement

Horizontally & vertically


aligned HRM systems

Not valuable per se,


activity implementers

Support activity

Firms ability to perform


activities at a lower price or in a
distinct way
Industry/nation specific key
success factors

Horizontal &
vertical fit
approach
(SHRM)
Competitive
positioning
view,
Country/
industry view

Porter (1990, 1998)

Followers of the interactional approach to the CA


source see human resources as a mediator between strategy
and performance outcomes, or relationship builders in
business networks and human resource management as an
HR capability developer and performance stimulator (see
Table 2). The least significance to both human resources
and their management is attributed by the competitive
positioning view which supports the idea that the source of
competitive advantage lies outside the organisation and
views human resources not valuable per se, and their
management as a support activity (see Table 2). However,
as already mentioned, current challenges of the business
environment can no longer be met merely by the use of
traditional, or external, sources, and emphasises the need
of searching for new effective combinations.

HR value maximisation
through their
deployment &
development
HR capability
development

Integration of specialised
knowledge into organisational
capabilities
Resources & capabilities
gained/developed outside the
firm boundaries
Role behaviours required by
competitive strategy

Conclusions
By way of conclusion, it can be said that both human
resources and their management, especially when used in
combination, may be viewed as value adding to the
organisation in its attempts to meet the challenges of highly
volatile global business environment. This assumption is
supported by most contemporary approaches to sources of
competitive advantage, a summary of which is provided in
Table 2. As seen from the overview of these approaches and
as already discussed in this paper, the highest relevance to
human resources is attributed by approaches supporting the
idea that the source of organisational competitiveness
resides within the firm, i.e. views of internal sources of
competitive advantage, such as resource-based view,
knowledge-based view, or competency-based view.

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Consistent with the above perspectives, human


resources play a critical role in the creation and sustaining
of competitive advantage. It is noteworthy, however, that
though the interaction and external views to
competitiveness do not emphasise the critical role of
human resources in the attainment and sustaining of
competitive advantage, human contribution is nevertheless
evident and undeniable, for people make an integral and
indispensable part of the organisation no matter in what
way they are viewed a strategic asset, relationship
builder and cultivator, or strategy implementer. It is also
noteworthy that the value of human resources is dependent
not only on the organisation or industry, but certain
national factors such as political, economical and
educational systems, etc. (Boxall, Purcell, 2003), for states
differ in the provision of the levels of human capital
quality. Therefore, human resource management should be
viewed as a strategic activity and thus carried out
consistently with the overall business/corporate strategy. It
is also noteworthy that a single source of competitive
advantage may not always suffice to achieve superior
performance (Ma, 1999); therefore, multiple sources
should be sought and attitudes followed.
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Rta Kazlauskait, Ilona Buinien


mogikj itekli ir j valdymo vaidmuo kuriant ilgalaik
konkurencin pranaum
Santrauka
Mokslinje literatroje egzistuoja daugyb poiri organizacijos
konkurencinio pranaumo krim ir ilaikym. Mgindami vardyti
konkurencinio pranaumo altin, strategini sprendim primimo
poiriai remiasi tiek iorins, tiek vidins organizacijos aplinkos analize.
Taiau iki iol nei teorijoje, nei praktikoje vis dar nra vieningos
nuomons iuo klausimu, t. y. kas i ties kuria konkurencin
organizacijos pranaum.
Verslo pasauliui tampant vis globalesniu, iuolaikins organizacijos
susiduria su tokiais naujais ikiais: naumo didinimo btinybe, nauj
technologij diegimu ir naudojimu, gerai dirbani darbuotoj
pritraukimu bei ilaikymu. Dl to organizacijos suvokia, jog tradiciniai
konkurencinio pranaumo altiniai: gamtiniai itekliai, prijimas prie
finansini altini, masto ekonomija ir t. t. tampa vis lengviau
nukopijuojami ir praranda savo strategin gali. Todl organizacijos yra
priverstos iekoti nauj bd, kaip atsilaikyti prie spariai augani
konkurencij ir skmingai vykdyti savo veikl nuolat besikeiianioje
aplinkoje.
Pastarj deimtmet vadybos literatroje ir praktikoje, vis daniau
pltojant organizacijos pasiekimus, svarbiausi yra mogikieji itekliai ir
j valdymas. Taip pat paymtina, jog strateginio valdymo literatroje vis
dar plaiai diskutuojama, kas i ties sudaro ilgalaikio konkurencinio
pranaumo pagrind mogikieji itekliai ar efektyvus j valdymas.
Straipsnio tikslas atskleisti mogikj itekli ir j valdymo
vaidmen, kuriant ilgalaik konkurencin pranaum.
Tyrimo metodas mokslins literatros analiz ir sintez.
mogikj itekli svarba organizacijoje. Deimtajame prajusio
amiaus deimtmetyje strateginio valdymo literatroje susiformavo
itekliais pagrstas strategini sprendim primimo poiris (angl.
resource-based view). io poirio alininkai teigia, jog esmin vaidmen,
kuriant konkurencin pranaum, vaidina ne konkurencin pozicija
rinkoje, o organizacijos itekliai ir gebjimai (Barney, 1991; Grant, 1991,
1998). Remiantis Grant (1998) tipologija, pastarieji yra skirstomi
materialius (finansiniai bei fiziniai), nematerialius (organizacijos kultra,
reputacija ir technologijos) ir mogikuosius. Nors visos ios itekli
grups yra svarbios utikrinant organizacijos veiklos skm, didiausias
dmesys pastaruoju metu tiek praktikoje, tiek teorijoje yra skiriamas
mogikiesiems itekliams (Ulrich ir Lake, 1991; Pfeffer, 1994; Wright ir
kt., 1994, t. t.).
Kuo ypatinga i itekli grup ir kokiomis savybmis ji pasiymi,
kad atitikt ilgalaikio konkurencinio pranaumo slygas, t. y. kad bt
vertinga, reta, nenukopijuojama ir pakaital neturinti itekli grup?
Norint atsakyti , pirmiausia reikia apibrti mogikj itekli
svok. Paymtina, jog literatroje galima iskirti du pagrindinius
poirius ios svokos esm, t. y. bendrin, kuris mogikuosius
iteklius suvokia kaip visus organizacijos darbuotojus (Wright ir kt.,
1994; Fisher ir kt., 2006), bei iskirtin, kurio alininkai akcentuoja
darbuotoj gebjim, ini, poiri ir patirties svarb (Grant, 1998;
Kamoche, 1999).
mogikieji itekliai gali bti laikomi retais itekliais, nes
didiausi vert organizacijai kuria darbuotojai, kuriems bdingi dideli
kognityviniai gebjimai, vien jau pagal nutyljim esantys reti. Dl
organizacij patirties skirtum, prieastinio ryio tarp mogikj itekli
ir konkurencinio pranaumo neapibrtumo ir socialins moni
tarpusavio sveikos sudtingumo i itekli grup tampa sunkiai
nukopijuojama, o mons dl savo gebjimo ilaikyti laiko test bei bti
perkeliamiems i vienos technologins, produkt ar rinkos aplinkos kit,
tampa nepakeiiami (Wright ir kt., 1994).
mogikj itekli valdymo vaidmuo kuriant konkurencin
prana. Siekiant, kad darbuotoj kompetencijos tapt esminmis
organizacijos kompetencijomis, jos turi bti ugdomos ir ilaikomos
organizacijoje remiantis efektyviu mogikuj itekli valdymu (Ulrich ir
Lake, 1994; Becker ir Gerhart, 1996, t. t.). Be to, personalo valdymas yra
sudtinga sistema, kuriai diegti reikia daug laiko, todl yra sunkiai
konkurent identifikuojama bei nukopijuojama (Pfeffer, 1994; Becker ir
Gerhart, 1996).

Batt (2002) iskiria tris kritines mogikj itekli valdymo


funkcijas, prisidedanias prie organizacijos konkurencingumo didinimo:
1) atitinkamus gebjimus turini darbuotoj pritraukim ir j
apmokym; 2) darbo pobd, skatinant darbuotoj veiksm laisv ir
nuolatin darbuotoj ugdym bendradarbiaujant su kolegomis; 3)
rezultatais pagrst skatinim.
Sujungiantis poiris mogikuj itekli ir j valdymo kritin
svarb. Kaip minta, mokslinje literatroje nra vieningos nuomons dl
mogikj itekli ir j valdymo vaidmens kuriant konkurencin
pranaum. Apibendrinant skirtingus egzistuojanius poirius, galima
iskirti tris pagrindines poiri grupes. Vieni autoriai dl jau mint
prieasi konkurencinio pranaumo altiniu laiko mogikuosius
iteklius. Kiti autoriai teigia, kad geriausi darbuotoj pritraukimas nra
pakankama konkurencinio pranaumo slyga ir iskiria mogikuj
itekli valdymo svarb. Treioji autori grup silo sujungiant poir
mogikj itekli bei j valdymo kritin svarb. Kamoche (1999)
teigia, jog mogikieji itekliai prisideda prie konkurencinio pranaumo
krimo demonstruodami savo ekspertin elgsen, o mogikj itekli
valdymas leidia sukurti organizacin gebjim priderinti mogikuosius
iteklius prie verslo strategijos ir juos ilaikyti.
mogikj itekli bei j valdymo verts suvokimas. Straipsnio
pabaigoje, be itekliais grsto strategini sprendim primimo poirio,
kuris neabejotinai skiria didiausi dmes mogikiesiems itekliams ir
j valdymui kuriant konkurencin pranaum, analizuojami ir kiti
strategini sprendim primimo poiriai. Straipsnyje aptariama, koki
svarb kuriant konkurencin pranaum, jie skiria mogikiesiems itekliams
ir j valdymui. Iskiriamos trys pagrindins i poiri grups:
1) poiriai, pagal kuriuos konkurencinio pranaumo altinis yra
vidinje organizacijos aplinkoje (itekliais, kompetencijomis ir
iniomis pagrsti poiriai);
2) interaktyvs poiriai konkurencinio pranaumo krim
(verslo
tinklo
poiris,
bihevioristin
perspektyva,
horizontalaus ir vertikalaus atitikimo poiris);
3) poiriai, pagal kuriuos konkurencinio pranaumo altinis yra
iorinje organizacijos aplinkoje (konkurencins pozicijos,
alies ir akos poiris).
Paymtina, kad kritinis mogikj itekli ir j valdymo
vaidmuo, kuriant konkurencin pranaum, palaikomas tik pirmosios
poiri grups. Remiantis itekliais, kompetencijomis ir iniomis
pagrstais poiriais, straipsnyje pateikiami argumentai, leidiantys teigti,
jog mogikieji itekliai vaidina kritin vaidmen kuriant ir ilaikant
ilgalaik konkurencin pranaum, taiau vien toki itekli turjimas nra
pakankama ilgalaikio konkurencinio pranaumo sukrimo ir ilaikymo
slyga. mogikieji itekliai kuria vert organizacijai, kai jie yra
naudojami drauge su kitais jos itekliais ir efektyviai valdomi, o tai
pabria mogikj itekli valdymo sistemos svarb.
Antrosios poiri grups alininkai mogikuosius iteklius laiko
tarpininku tarp strategijos ir organizacijos pasiekim, ar santyki
umezgjais verslo tinkluose, o mogikj itekli valdym traktuoja
kaip priemon ugdyti darbuotoj gebjimus ir skatinti j veikl
(Strandskov, 2006; Schuler ir Jackson, 1999; Delery, 1998, ir kt.).
Maiausi svarb mogikiesiems itekliams skiria treiosios poiri
grups alininkai, kuri manymu konkurencinio pranaumo altinis yra
organizacijos iorinje aplinkoje, todl mogikieji itekliai nra vertingi
kaip tokie, o j valdymas tra palaikanti organizacijos veikla (Porter,
1990, 1998). Visgi, apibendrinus iorins aplinkos ir interaktyvj
poirius, galima daryti ivad, kad mogikieji itekliai yra integrali ir
btina organizacijos dalis, todl j valdymas atlieka svarbi funkcij
organizacijoje.
Straipsnio pabaigoje formuluojama ivada, jog tiek mogikieji
itekliai, tiek j valdymas kuria organizacin vert ir padeda sprsti itin
greitai kintanios globalios verslo aplinkos problemas. Taip pat
paymtina, jog mogikj itekli vert priklauso ne tik nuo
organizacijos ar verslo akos, bet ir nuo tam tikr nacionalini veiksni:
politins, ekonomins bei vietimo sistemos. Todl mogikj itekli
valdymas turt bti traktuojamas kaip strategin organizacijos veikla,
derinama su bendra verslo ar korporatyvine strategija. Be to, paymtina,
jog vienas konkurencinio pranaumo altinis nra pakankama
organizacijos ilgalaiks skms slyga, todl organizacijoms patartina
derinti skirtingus altinius.
Raktaodiai: mogikieji itekliai, mogikj itekli valdymas, itekliais
pagrstas poiris, konkurencinis pranaumas.

The article has been reviewed.


Received in September, 2008; accepted in December, 2008.

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