Centre for International Human Resource Management

Opinion Pieces

Brian Harney

Opportunity knocks for HR in a time of crisis

Dr Brian Harney, Dublin City University

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Corporate mantra concerning the critical role of human resources has been rife for many years. The tight labour markets and so-called war for talent fuelled by economic expansion only served to further elevate the status of the Human Resource (HR) function. The current economic crisis, however, has seriously called into question the realities of any impact achieved. Most obviously, many organisations have been extremely quick to reduce staff numbers and cut back HR budgets.

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Jonathan Trevor

Reforming executive pay: is regulation the only way?

Dr Jonathan Trevor, Cambridge Judge Business School

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The New Year's Honours List was not surprisingly devoid of bankers and politicians. The only banker recognised was Dyfrig John, former chief executive of HSBC Bank. But Angela Knight, Chief Executive of the British Bankers' Association, still believes the 50 per cent super tax on bankers' bonuses is wrong. In the annual address earlier in the year to her members she said: "There are literally tens, if not hundreds of thousands of British jobs directly and indirectly related to banking - bringing billions of pounds in tax income."

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Jonathan Trevor

Something rotten at the heart of executive remuneration

Dr Jonathan Trevor, Cambridge Judge Business School

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It has been over three decades since Michael Jensen and William Meckling published in the Journal of Financial Economics one of the most widely cited research papers in economics and management. They presented to the business world a problem and proffered a solution based upon evidence. Witness the birth of executive remuneration as we know it today. The problem they identified, referred to as the principal - agent problem, is that executives' (agents) interests are different from those of owners (principals). In the modern corporation, where the owners of the firm are removed from day to day managerial control (i.e. a separation between ownership and control), this is clearly a problem of the highest order. How best to ensure that executives are acting in the best interests of shareholders? The corporation is not viable if they are not.

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Jonathan Trevor

What's the difference? Managing people across borders

Dr Philip Stiles, Cambridge Judge Business School

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When doing business in Japan, make sure you accept business cards with both hands; in the Netherlands, do not introduce employee of the year awards into your firm; they will be ridiculed; in the UK, politeness in negotiation does not mean acceptance of your position. Sound familiar? These and many other observations have become the staple of the national culture industry, appearing everywhere from management textbooks, and business school seminars, to posters at airports.

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Jonathan Trevor

What is 'best practice' in executive remuneration?

Dr Jonathan Trevor, Cambridge Judge Business School

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Before you try and answer, let me tell you, it is a rhetorical question. Managing the remuneration of your top employees is a complicated business. There is a lot we know. We know that companies should ensure that the remuneration of their top executives is fit for purpose by being aligned to the value drivers of the firm. The result of getting it right is, you hope, to attract and retain high performing individuals that lead the company to success and create shareholder value. Get it wrong, however, and you run the risk of not attracting or retaining the 'right' talent, a demotivated and disengaged top team and, worst of all, executives hell bent on achieving targets that destroy value.

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Jonathan Trevor

Not as easy as ABC: identifying and developing talent

Dr Philip Stiles, Cambridge Judge Business School

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For companies wanting to excel, the advice as far as people are concerned is straightforward: hire the best. From boardrooms to business schools, you'll hear the same message, and its simplicity is compelling: if people are key resources, it seems obvious that the better you have, the more effective you will be.

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