The current Academy of Management membership profile is reaching a significant turning point: more new members now come from outside North America than from within it. In the not-too-distant future, the majority of AOM membership will be based outside North America. The HRIC conferences are designed to better integrate this global community and disseminate HR knowledge to management researchers and practitioners wherever they live and work. Building on the successes of the first HRIC in Beijing, China (June 2014), and the second HRIC in Sydney, Australia (February, 2016), this third HRIC seeks to advance of understanding of HRM in the global context under the theme of Shifting Landscapes of HRM.
There is little doubt that the global economy is at an inflection point with significant implications for how we conceptualise and understand HRM. The assumptions and premises of globalization have come under threat from a resurgent nationalism. A populist political narrative, as evidenced in the US and UK, has challenged the position of migrants, including migrant labour, opening up questions related to free movement of people and sources of value creation. A corollary is that countries risk facing talent shortages as their attractiveness to inward flows of key talent is threatened. More broadly rising labour costs in traditional low cost locations such as in Asia and India mean that companies need to reshape their value proposition in terms of attracting inward investment. These trends have forced organisations to revaluate their location strategies with many financial institutions increasing operations in international centres such as Dublin and Frankfurt and tech firms such as Microsoft opening satellite offices in Canada in response to talent and regulatory concerns. These and other political changes have the potential to alter the global talent landscape with significant implications for HRM.
We are also in the midst of a significant debate concerning the future of work and employment. Indeed, some have gone as far as to argue that the nature of the global workforce and talent markets is changing fundamentally, and moving “beyond employment” (Cascio and Boudreau, 2016). These changes are reflected in the increasing use of talent platforms to match contractors with available work. At the lower end of the so-called gig-economy much of the intellectual debate has rightly focused on the conditions and welfare rights of “non-workers” in these new working relationships and the implications for their standard of living, working hours and well-being. At the higher end these alternative employment platforms are argued to provide increased control over work, greater work-life balance and the opportunity for more meaningful work. Yet significant questions remain around personal and professional identity, work-life integration and sustainable careers in these contexts. From an organisational perspective, the HRM questions around managing risk and compliance in these relationships, combined with how to effectively manage these emerging forms of work are to a large degree unanswered. Similarly, the implications of blurring organisational boundaries and how they might serve to reinforce or redefine structural barriers in, and to, employment warrants critical consideration.
A final key theme which is shifting the landscape of HRM is premised on the role of data and technology. We are seeing increasing use of data and analytics to make more informed decisions around HRM. However, it is clear that our understanding of this from an academic perspective has been slower than many would have hoped (Marler and Boudreau, 2016). Nonetheless the shift towards more analytical approaches to HRM calls for a better understanding of the skills required for HR professionals and the tools, techniques and frames that offer the greatest potential for advancing the theory and practice of HRM in this domain. At the same time, the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the nature work requires more in-depth consideration. For some AI represents a threat to work and employment particularly in low skilled or manual roles, while others may view it as a means of emancipating the working class and improving work life balance. Do these trends present another opportunity for HRM to develop strategic value, how does the HR profession manage the technology interface, and how do analytics offer opportunities to extend and expand HR’s reach (e.g. gamification, sensors, 3-D technology or automation)? As of yet we know little about these dynamics are likely to play out.