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BOOK REVIEW

Human Resource Management: Linking Strategy to Practice by Greg L. Stewart and Kenneth G. Brown. 2009. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 613 pp.
Reviewed by William J. Heisler, associate professor of human resources management in the Sorrell College of Business at Troy University. He earned his Ph.D. and M.B.A. in business administration from Syracuse University. Dr. Heisler is the founding editor of the Journal of Human Resources Management and serves as the Atlantic Region Chair of the M.S. in Human Resources Management Program. Contact: wheisler@troy.edu. This new human resource management text has much to offer and is worth consideration for undergraduate courses. Its major strength is its recurring focus linking human resource management with strategy and business practice to illustrate how human resource practices help increase organizational effectiveness. The authors, both from the University of Iowa with consulting and realworld work experience, have written a text which presents the major concepts of human resources management in a clear, coherent writing style, while also providing additional detail and illustration through various types of insets. These insets include A Managers Perspective which opens each chapter with a real-life scenario followed by five questions to get the student thinking about the concepts that will be addressed in the chapter. A Managers Perspective Revisited is presented at the end of the chapter to indicate how the chapter material could have helped in providing solutions to the questions presented at the beginning of the chapter. An inset I particularly like is How Do We Know? These insets, spread throughout the chapters, summarize relevant research studies from scholarly publications in nontechnical language and point out how research findings contribute to the understanding of human resources management. Another inset of interest is Technology in HR. These insets describe ways in which technology is being used to enhance the effectiveness of human resource management. The text is organized into four major sections: (1) Seeing People as a Strategic Resource, (2) Securing Effective Employees, (3) Improving Employee Performance, and (4) Motivating and Managing Employees. While the chapters in each section address traditional human resource management topics such as recruiting, selection, training, career development, compensation, and related HRM functions, the link to strategy is maintained throughout. While the chapters are organized logically within each section, I would have preferred to see sections 3 and 4 reversed so that motivating and managing employees preceded materials on improving employee performance. I always like to use performance management and compensation as tools for reinforcing changes in desired employee behavior. However, this is an option instructors will have in setting up the flow of materials for their individual courses.

Another feature I like is that the materials in each chapter are introduced in a question format. For example, in Chapter 5, Recruiting Talented Employees, the student will find questions such as How Does Human Resource Planning Facilitate Recruiting?, What are Common Recruiting Sources? and How is Recruiting Effectiveness Determined? The text following each question then provides the answers to the question. I find this format refreshing and believe that this organizing framework may help students retain the information more effectively. The authors also include various types of end-of-chapter application exercises to help students begin to apply what they have learned. These application exercises include illustrative case situations, discussion cases, experiential exercises, and interactive experiential exercises. The latter provides a link to a companion website where students can go to participate in a role-play to test their understanding of chapter concepts. Faculty supplements also abound. These supplements include an instructors resource manual that contains sample syllabi, chapter objectives and outlines, teaching notes, case study notes, and team exercises. In addition, faculty will find a test bank of over 100 questions per chapter, PowerPoint presentations including lecture notes to accompany each slide, and web quizzes. Adopters of the text will also have access to additional WileyPLUS tools, including short video clips, business simulations, Mp3 downloads containing two- to four-minute audio overviews of each chapter, and a manual providing innovative teaching ideas for integrating the humanities (movies and music) into the course. Whats not to like? The authors have also included an excellent set of appendices with the text. They are: (A) Occupational Outlook for HR Managers and Specialists, (B) Human Resource Certification Institute Body of Knowledge, (C) Human Resource Planning Society Knowledge Areas, (D) Major Employment Laws in the United States, (E) Organizations of Interest to HR Students and Professionals, and (F) Journals Useful to HR Students and Professionals. These appendices can be very useful to students in guiding their studies and in planning for their careers. There are few things that I do not like about the text. However, some deserve mention. First, the authors combine equal employment opportunity and safety in the same chapter. This is an unusual combination to say the least. Thus, there is no separate chapter on health and safety. Second, there is no material addressing auditing or evaluating the overall effectiveness of the human resources function. With the authors emphasis on alignment with organizational strategy, one would expect a chapter devoted solely to evaluation. Finally, in some areas the text is short on details that should be included even in an undergraduate course. For example, in the chapter on recruiting, no mention is made of time-series or regression approaches to demand analysis and Markov analysis is not mentioned in supply analysis. As stated previously, my criticisms of the text are minimal. Overall, the authors have provided a highly useful text with an abundance of student and faculty supplements which have the potential to greatly enhance the learning experience. The continuing focus on HRM alignment with strategy makes the book well worth consideration.