leverage human resource
Maris G. Martinsons
City Polytechnic of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Information technology (IT) has radically transformed the world of industry
and commerce and significantly affected almost every factory and office worker.
At the organizational level, the power dynamics and communication patterns
associated with the Taylor (1911) production model have been superseded by
more decentralized structures with empowered employees (Barry, 1989). The
need for a rapid and multidirectional flow of information in a complex, hectic
and often turbulent environment has made it critical to manage effectively the
associated technology (Martinsons, 1993).
Information systems (IS) have evolved from an administrative to a strategic
orientation. They are now commonly used not only to enhance productivity, but
also to improve effectiveness and create a competitive edge. Some financial
service, health care and transportation firms have even secured enormous
strategic advantages by using information technology to transform radically
the very nature of their industries (Clemons, 1986; Porter and Millar, 1985;
Venkatraman, 1994). More generally, increasing numbers of computer-based IS
are being applied to cross-functional and even inter-organizational activities,
especially as core business processes are fundamentally redesigned (see
Hammer, 1990). Nevertheless, there is still a clearly recognized need to develop
specialized IT applications within a functional business area. This may be
defined as localized exploitation (Venkatraman, 1994).
The tremendous amounts of paper and information traditionally associated
with personnel administration made it an early candidate for electronic data
processing (EDP). Information technology was first applied in the 1960s for the
automation of employee records. Other transaction processing systems, for
administering payrolls and benefits, soon followed. With the subsequent
evolution of human resource management (HRM), various computer-based
human resource information systems (CHRIS) have been planned, developed
and successfully implemented.
Over the past two decades, the importance of these information systems has
grown steadily (DeSanctis, 1986; Grossman and Magnus, 1988). Significant
ongoing declines in the IT cost-performance ratio, averaging some 30 per cent
per annum, have dramatically changed the nature of investment decisions.
Purchases of computers and communications technology have become
increasingly viable. In many organizations during the 1980s, the position of
International Journal of Manpower,
Vol. 16 No. 2, 1995, pp. 17-34.
© MCB University Press,