The tenets of human resource management are fundamental and overarching. However, the complexities of practice differ significantly across business organisations and business schools. This is largely context driven. Some of these distinctions can also be seen within business organisations i.e large product companies versus advertising agencies.
The basic difference that I have observed is the primary motive with which people join these two different types of organisations. Whereas in a business organisation people join primarily to build a career, the effort required – in the form of design of the structure , policies and procedures , practices etc. – to create an engaging culture is tremendous. In the case of people joining an educational Institute, the person has an innate desire or passion to contribute to others, and to a chosen profession. In the development of human resources, the degree of engagement to the work is relatively much higher. Hence effort to get teaching staff to emotionally engage with the work (both teaching and research) from an organisational point of view is far less.
Unlike a business organisation a lot of work can be done largely through individual excellence – this leads to the development of a very individualist culture. Fundamentally, this is due to jobs fundamentally not being strongly interdependent.
The above two factors – one which is intrinsic to the individual and the other the context in which they perform their work, brings forth a number of challenges to the Human Resource function of a business school. Since the desire to contribute for a cause which is beyond themselves already exists, the system and processes to motivate them to higher levels of performance remain a big challenge. Contextually, creating institutional affiliation is more challenging when a significant portion of intrinsic satisfaction can be achieved by working alone.
The individualistic culture that sets in due to absence of interdependency is at odds with multi-disciplinary research and organisational affiliation. This makes academia an exciting place to work for an HR professional; from creating a shared vision and making it relevant across silos to creating an environment which allows ‘collaboration accidents to happen’ to the mantra of ‘Communicate, communicate, communicate’ to designing appropriate incentives and development, to engaging faculty in multiple dimensions of institution building; academia represents a space for exciting new models of HRM in practice.
At SPJIMR, we are well ahead of the curve on many fronts. However, there is work to be done, and it is a joy to be a part of it.