What Now? A book review of Jack J. Phillips’ Accountability in Human Resource ManagementAccountability in Human Resource Management describes important items in the HRM checklist. Written by Jack J. Phillips and published in 1999 by Butterworth-Heinemann Publishing. It was originally published by Gulp Publishing Company. The book took on the outline of an evaluation research. It is a valuable handbook in an endeavor to understand the HRM and HRD, the fine line which separates the two and the dynamics which unifies the two in every step of the business cycles and processes.
The book is a fine guide as it does not only offer practical examples but provides the tools in evaluating how a group of people organized in such a manner as to perform specific business functions in a common workplace. Phillips’ assumption is quite simple – accountability. This must be the reason that his approach to HRM is evaluative in nature, oriented in problem identification and solving and posited on the notion on acting at the right time given the right information on the right situation. In Phillips point of view espoused in Accountability…, accountability is meaningless without evaluation.
This appears to be the thematic thread in this comprehensively written book on HRM. Grounded theories have evolved since it became popular in mid-80’s (Partington, 2000). By taking the posture as grounded, Phillips’ book ventured into action research mode but not exactly similar to more popular grounded models of Glaser and Strauss. It must be treated then as variant of grounded approach requiring participation of the stakeholders (in this case personnel and managers). Theory wise, by taking the posture as grounded, it is essentially stressing the point of high state of awareness on what is happening in the workplace at any time.
It gives the advantage of remaining scientifically objective and with tools for day-to-day contact between management and personnel. The book is divided into four parts which parallels the process of scientific inquiry. In part one of the book tackles frame working on how to measure human resource contribution. Several helpful approaches are mentioned which could be invaluable not only to HR practitioners but to management and even laymen who are interested in how organizations functions.
Phillips stresses on the “need for a results based approach to HRM as human resource becomes “strategic business partner” as he describes the increasing role of HR practitioners in decision makers. This trend Phillips attributes to the increasing importance of bottom line approaches as management geared human resource to address the fundamental business issues and the bottom line in business is profit. Phillips contends that the increasing popularity of bottom line approaches is mainly due to the need for greater flexibility in modern workplaces which have undergone considerable changes as far as management and labor relations are concerned as industries interact with one another such as the IT industry has been greatly influenced by electronics, same way IT applications revolutionized record keeping, market simulation and even product designs.
Phillips recognized that competitive global economy demands new approaches. Bottom lining is essentially attuning HR to business and its objectives. An HR that is sensitive to requirements of the business, HR then is as unique as the business.