G the hr policies were to alter this means among

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need to be able to judge how they might behave and react if circumstances (e.g. the HR policies) were to alter; this means, among other things, that you need effective theories of motivation. These are formidable requirements, and they imply that you need to blend together the different social science disciplines, for example, economics, industrial relations and organisational behaviour. HR policy is therefore inherently multidisciplinary, which might make it more interesting for some but definitely makes it more difficult for everyone. You also need to know more than just the theory; you need to know the empirical work too. This requires a grasp of research design, a store of complex information, and the ability to manipulate and interpret that information, which is why statistical expertise is becoming part of the HR professional’s job description. So, to understand and design HR policies properly is not a trivial intellectual task. Many HR policy instruments and practices A second reason why HR policy is hard to get right comes from its multiplicity of policy instruments. Policy-makers in all fields have policy instruments. One problem for HR policy-makers is that there are so many HR instruments available to them: hiring policy, induction policy, training policy, employee development policy, pay and rewards policy, job design decisions, career or promotion policies, and so on. Adding to the complexity, each area of HR policy is likely to have some impact on the others. This means that it is unwise to analyse any single policy in isolation from the others. One should instead see it in the context of the whole, which means having a sense of possible ‘HR strategies’, or groups of policies. The very multiplicity of policies makes the whole subject ambiguous. HR policies, programmes and plans are difficult to evaluate A third reason why HR policy is so difficult is that HR policies, programmes and plans are very hard to evaluate properly, so that managers cannot easily establish whether their policy choices are wise. Neither can outside analysts easily find out whether a firm’s policies, or those of a set of firms, are working optimally. HR managers often distinguish between policies (local sets of rules or codes established help coordinate people management activities within an organisation), programmes (interventions designed by HR managers to achieve specific objectives such as a change programme following a merger or redundancy programme resulting from a prolonged decline in sales) and plans (specific instruments or tools such as an incentive plan). These three active forms of intervention can be contrasted with HR practices, which are informal rules or codes ‘the way things are done around here’. These are helpful distinctions to use when evaluating HR activities. Natural scientists can conduct controlled experiments to assess the full consequences of a course of action. Social scientists cannot usually do this, and when they can it is normally possible only in the artificial environment of the social science laboratory. Running controlled experiments in the real world of work is exceedingly hard, and very rare.
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