טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentAlmagor Peterburg Merav
SubjectHuman Resources Function in the High Tech Industry -
Business Partner?
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisor Dr. Shlomit Kaminka
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

Over the course of the past several years, companies have undergone dramatic organizational and structural changes resulting from an increase in growth in the information technologies sector. As a result, companies have not just experienced changes in their business environment but also in the complexity of their administrative structure. It has become essential that an evolved, flexible human resources management structure emerge in order to remain effective as a successful model in any organization experiencing such a sudden and dramatic change.

This emerging model presents a human resources function that moves beyond the administrative and manpower issues that it had traditionally assumed, and enters into areas that provide direct added value to business performance. This model should operate as a full strategic and business partner to the organization, contributing to its economic bottom line. In order to remain competitive and effective within the dynamic of the organization, human resources departments need to understand this new “language of business,” become involved in the day-to-day agendas of the organization, and take initiative in changing and transforming along with the organization; therefore increasing its overall effectiveness.

This study examines the perception of the human resources function as a business partner in the technology industry in Israel. The model on which it is based, is Dave Ulrich’s “Multiple-Role Model for Human Resources Management.” This “Multiple-Role Model” consists of four functions, which Ulrich argues should be in place in order for human resources to act as a true business: the strategic partner, which aligns the human resources strategies with the overall business strategies; the administrative expert, one of the traditional roles of human resources which creates and establishes administrative processes (training, recruitment, benefits, etc.) that organize employees and their

movement in the organization; the employee champion, which takes on the needs and concerns of employees; and the change agent, which promotes and facilitates change within the organization to allow it to be accomplished more easily.

The comprehensive study seeks to evaluate the perceived function of these four roles through a comparison of two groups: mid-level managers who do not work in the function of human resources and workers at all levels that do perform human resources functions within those same organizations. In the framework of this study, the employees from both groups were asked to evaluate their perception of human resources function as a business partner within their organization. Participants in the study completed a survey entitled “Human Resource Role-Assessment Survey” conceived by Dave Ulrich and Jill Conner. The results of the study are based on the outcomes of these surveys, which seek

to evaluate the human resources function in the four roles of the “Multiple-Role Model” The differences between the average evaluation of the managers and the average evaluation of the human resources employees were tested specifically.

    For the study, four organizations from within the technology sector in Israel were chosen that have similar characteristics:
  • Mid-level research and development companies that have between 700 - 1200 employees in its entire operations.
  • Israeli companies which were founded and established in Israel.
  • Companies with international market presence, but whose research and development is based in Israel.
  • Publicly traded corporations on U.S. markets.

All sampled organizations met all of the above characteristics.

The sample of participants included fifty-one respondents overall, thirty-three of whom were mid-level managers and eighteen of whom were human resources employees.

For additional preparation for this study, interviews were conducted with twelve human resources managers within these four organizations. These interviews give support to the quantitative results that arose from the study. In order to get perspective of the status of the human resources functions in the technology industry in general, the results were compared to the standards established by Dave Ulrich.

The research set out to test two main assumptions on the perception of the human

resources function:

  1. There will be a significant difference between the evaluation of mid-level  managers and human resources employees regarding the perceived function of human resources within the organization. It is assumed that the human resources employees will perceive the function as higher than the mid-level managers will perceive the function.

  2. The gap between the perception of the managers and the human resources employees will be higher in the strategic layer (one of the two layers - the other being operational - the Ulrich defines as occupying each of the four roles).


The results of the study support the assumptions and point to the significant differences between the perception of the mid-level managers and perception of the human resources employees. In fact, the human resources employees evaluated their role as business partners in a higher way - compared to the evaluations of the mid-level managers - in each of the four roles of the “Multiple-Role Model.” These differences, however, were only found statistically significant in three out of the four roles (not in the change agent role) and in the general grade - the compilation of total grades of the evaluations in all four roles. The second assumption - that the gap will be higher at the strategic layer - was also supported in the research. Therefore significant difference - an especially strong one - was seen on the strategic layer which includes the role of the strategic partner and the change agent.

This study implements a model that has not been tested before in the technology industry in Israel. This original study is also the first of its kind that tests the perception of the human resources function in a specific sector of the business market of Israel. It gives an overall impression of the perception of the human resources function and it position in the technology sector in Israel by looking closely within the framework of these sampled organizations.

This study allows speculation as to whether there is a gap between the current reality of human resources function in the technology industry in Israel and supposed framework of systems that are expressed neatly in the titles and catch phrases of the people who train human resources employees. On could also use the study as an insight onto the human resources department of different organizations in Israel, as a tool to affect and change the strategies that they give themselves for the future.