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What If Line Managers Don't Realize They're Responsible for Hr?

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What if line managers don't realize they're responsible for HR?

Thornhill, A., Saunders, M.N.K 1998, ‘What if line managers don’t realize they’re responsible for HR?’, Personnel Review, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 460 – 476.

The purpose of the article written by Thornhill and Saunders is to indicate the role of line managers and the importance of personnel specialists by exploring the implications emerging from complete delegation of human resource function to line managers within a medium – sized private sector company. This article is mainly based on two theories proposed by Guest and Storey which were used as a framework to consider the accomplishment of transferring the entire personnel responsibility to line managers, which occurred in Newco company as the case study. The research which was conducted by using different methods such as a card sort, in – depth interviews and a questionnaire to collect data from 51 employees highlights the importance of line managers’ role and the need for human resource experts. It also leads to an argument that the lack of human resource specialist role would negatively affect the achievement of organizational strategic integration related to human resource management.

It can be seen that the objective of the article is successfully achieved through the logical and coherent approach. The authors started the paper with the literature, Storey’s theory, reviewing the changing role for line managers in relation to human resource management adoptions which were “solf” and “hard” versions, then the theory of Guest was presented in detail as the foundation for the following case study. In addition, the survey was conducted by using both quantitative and qualitative methods which helped to collect and analyze data precisely and reliably. Moreover, this paper also contributes the issue about the link between personnel specialist role and organizational strategic integration for further investigation.

Nevertheless, there are several questionable points to this article. Firstly, if the structure of other companies is not as “flatter, non bureaucratic” as that of Newco, the results might be different. Consequently, Newco  company could not totally represent for medium – sized private organization. Secondly, the authors did not pay attention to the distinct types of respondents, which could have a significant impact on data analysis. For example, the desires at work were different between “core workers” and “peripheral workers” in Newco, which could lead to differences of their commitment to organization.



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