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Identifying and developing HR competencies for the future: Keys to sustaining the transformation of HR functions

Yeung, ArthurWoolcock, PatriciaSullivan, JohnHR. Human Resource Planning. New York: 1996. Vol. 19, Iss. 4;  pg. 48, 11 pgs

Abstract (Article Summary)

In the last few years, many HR functions have strived to reinvent themselves through new visions, strategies, structures, processes, and systems. However, to sustain the transformation of HR functions, HR professionals must develop and demonstrate a new set of competencies to fulfill their changing roles and responsibilities. Based on in-depth interviews with 10 senior HR executives, an article proposes an HR competency model that is both generic (i.e., able to encompass the key competencies that are frequently used by companies in different industries) and specific (i.e., able to highlight the competency differences in various HR roles). The research indicates only 10% to 35% of HR professionals possess the required new competencies. Also, 10 strategies used by 10 prominent companies to bridge the competency gap of their HR professionals are reviewed. Important levers for competency development include planning and assessment, communications, performance management, training, and development.

Full Text (5964   words)

Copyright Human Resource Planning Society 1996



Many human resource (HR) functions have been undergoing unprecedented changes in the last few years; new HR visions are being formulated, innovative HR strategies implemented, advanced HR information systems installed, HR structures redesigned, and HR processes reengineered. To add higher value to their corporations, many HR functions are being driven to lower HR costs, enhance the quality of HR services, and forge stronger linkages with business needs (Schuler, 1990; Yeung, Brockbank, & Ulrich, 1994; Yeung & Brockbank, 1995). All these changes, however, call for revamped roles and new competencies among HR professionals. Without aligning the skills of HR professionals with the changing HR visions, strategies, structures, systems, and processes, it is inevitable that the transformation of HR functions will be crippled.

In view of the strategic importance of these issues, The California Strategic Human Resource Partnership - a consortium of senior HR executives in 31 leading California companies commissioned a research study to systematically examine the following two questions with regard to HR competencies required in the future:

1. What essential competencies will be required of senior HR professionals at both corporate and business unit levels?

2. How can corporations most effectively acquire and/or develop these new competencies? Although many studies have been conducted regarding the changing competencies of HR professionals (Lawson, 1990; McLagan, 1989; Ulrich, Brockbank, Yeung & Lake, 1995; HRM Special Issue, 1996), this study is unique in three ways. First, while almost all existing studies of HR competencies have primarily focused on the identification of appropriate competencies, very few have ever addressed the specific strategies to develop those required competencies among HR professionals. This article extends beyond the mere identification of specific HR competencies and specifically discusses strategies that a diverse group of prominent companies have used to bridge the competency gaps. Second, instead of relying on case studies (Blancero, Boroski & Dyer, 1995; Morris, 1996; Gorsline, 1996) or large-scale survey research (Ulrich, Brockbank, Yeung & Lake, 1995), this study conducted in-depth interviews with senior HR executives in the following ten companies: Apple Computer, Bay Networks, DFS Group Limited (Duty Free Stores), HewlettPackard, International Paper, Kaiser Permanente Health Foundation, National Semiconductor, Oracle Corporation, Quantum Corporation, and Transamerica Corporation. (Please see Appendix 1 for the names of interviewees.) While this method does not justify the generalization of research findings to every kind of company (such as those smaller in size or those located outside the U.S.), it does provide sufficient depth and breadth to develop some insights, projections, perspectives, and observations regarding the competencies required of HR professionals in the future. Third, this study targeted only senior HR executives for interviews, excluding HR professionals at lower levels. This focus was motivated by the rationale that these senior HR executives are in a unique position to envision the changing roles of their HR functions and, consequently, to articulate the competencies required of their HR professionals. We believe senior HR executives can indeed provide the most accurate predictions regarding the competencies needed by HR professionals in the coming three to five years. (Each interview typically lasted for about one to one and a half hours. All interviews were tape-recorded and completely transcribed.)

By highlighting and discussing the key findings of the study, this article aims to share ideas and information that may prove invaluable to companies undertaking the challenging processes of identifying, developing, and refining competencies required of HR professionals in the years ahead.

What Are the Key HR Competencies Needed in the Future?

To identify the key competencies which will be required of senior HR professionals at both corporate and business unit levels, we asked the HR leaders to list those competencies critical to their HR professionals in the next three to five years. Usually, many HR leaders do not conceptualize a difference between the competencies required of senior HR generalists at the corporate and business unit levels. With an increasing emphasis on aligning HR with business needs, senior HR professionals in business units are increasingly taking on strategic HR leadership responsibilities comparable to the corporate HR leadership role. However, the senior HR executives we interviewed do make a distinction between the competencies of HR generalists and HR specialists, the latter typically located in corporate offices and responsible for the delivery of shared services.

The shifting roles and competencies of HR professionals are succinctly explained by Deborah Barber, SVP of HR and Organizational Excellence at Quantum: "I think traditionally the more strategic level HR plan has been developed in corporate and then it gets executed or implemented in the business. And now I'm saying we've got to turn this thing upside down. Because they are close to the business, the senior level HR professionals at the business level need to be prepared to do the in-depth kind of organizational diagnosis and assessment, and then be able to determine what are the critical organizational capabilities that business needs to be able to execute, both short-term and long-term, against their business plans. They have to put together both the strategic level and operational level organizational plans that are required to support the business. Now, corporate is there to provide some of the specialized resources or some of the expert knowledge that is needed to both develop and implement these kinds of plans. But the driver, the leadership has to come out of business. And that is a tough switch because we haven't been developing that kind of leadership in the businesses."


Barber's comments elicit the vital question:

What are the required competencies for senior HR generalists at both the corporate and business levels? A majority of HR leaders identified the following three competencies as critical: (1) solid knowledge of business or business acumen; (2) a capacity to facilitate and implement change; and (3) influencing skills. These three competencies were mentioned by 90%, 60%, and 50% of HR leaders respectively. (Please refer to Exhibit 1.) Interestingly, only 30% of HR leaders considered technical HR expertise critical for senior HR generalists. Forty percent of HR leaders selected leadership, organizational effectiveness, consultation/OD skills, and strategic/systemic thinking as essential competencies for senior HR generalists. Overall, the competencies highlighted by HR leaders are quite similar to those suggested in previous studies of HR competencies (e.g., Lawson, 1990; Ulrich, Brockbank, Yeung & Lake, 1995). The only items not mentioned elsewhere are factbased perspective, and process management and improvement. These competencies point to two emerging trends in HR functions: (1) the importance of measuring HR effectiveness and impact; and (2) the process orientation in the delivery of HR services. Hence, these two competencies have become more and more important in new HR organizations.

For HR specialists, process management, information technology expertise, and technical HR expertise are considered critical competencies. Other essential competencies include customer service, financial management, organizational effectiveness, and measurement of HR effectiveness.

Two important insights were gained from the interviews with senior HR executives. First, HR competencies should be role-specific rather than generic. The requisite competencies needed by senior HR generalists are quite different from those required of HR specialists. With the evolution of HR organizational structure into four major components - HR leaders at the corporate office, senior HR generalists at business units, HR specialists at the shared service center, and HR experts at centers of expertise such as those focusing on organizational change, organizational effectiveness, and program design (CSHRP,1994; Ulrich, 1995) - future models of HR competencies should be able to account for the competency differences resulting from the differing roles of HR professionals. A recent study within Eastman Kodak (Blancero, Boroski, and Dyer, 1995) has come to a similar conclusion in developing a role-based competency model.

Second, the list of key competencies identified by HR leaders is generally consistent with the competencies suggested in the University of Michigan study (Ulrich, Brockbank, Yeung & Lake, 1995) and the SHRM study (Lawson, 1990). This suggests that a consensus exists among HR researchers and practitioners regarding future HR competencies. Thus, although different competencies are emphasized in different HR roles, the overall list of competencies is quite consistent among companies in various industries in our sample. This, in turn, points to the value of developing a new HR competencies model that is both generic (i.e., able to encompass the key competencies used by companies in different industries) and specific (i.e., able to highlight the competency differences in different HR roles).


Based on our interviews with ten HR leaders, a summary of previous research studies (Lawson, 1990; Ulrich, Brockbank, Yeung & Lake, 1995), and a frequency analysis of HR competency items used in seven companies', we propose a new model of HR competencies that corresponds to the emerging HR structure in many corporations. As summarized in Exhibit 2, it is a four-domain competency model which includes Core, Leadership, HR Expertise, and Consultation competencies. Depending on their roles (corporate HR leader, senior business unit generalists, HR specialists at shared service centers, HR experts at centers of expertise), different domains of HR competencies are critical for different HR professionals.

At the center of the model are the Core competencies which every effective HR professional should develop. These competencies include:

§          business knowledge - capacity to understand competitive issues impacting the business (e.g., market, products, technology, processes) and to understand how business can create profit and value customer orientation - ability in viewing issues from the perspective of customers


§          effective communication - the ability to provide both verbal and written information clearly, consistently, and persuasively


§          credibility and integrity - to walk what you talk, act with integrity in all business transactions, and honor personal commitments


§          systemic perspective - the ability to view problems and issues in the context of the bigger picture and understand the interrelationships among subcomponents negotiation and conflict resolution skills - the capacity to reach agreements and consensus in spite of different goals and priorities

These Core competencies distinguish a highly effective HR professional from a typical one.

1. Critical competencies for senior HR generalists

For both corporate HR leaders and senior HR generalists in business units, the critical competencies lie in the domains of Leadership and Core competencies. Competencies in Consultation and HR Expertise are also desirable, but not as critical as the other two domains.

Leadership competencies include:

§          leadership styles - the ability to empower and trust others, to coach and develop subordinates, and to treat others with respect leadership skills and attributes

§          self-confidence, a willingness to take risks,

§          the ability to develop and articulate vision, lead change, and sell ideas

§          change advocacy - the ability to identify environmental changes that impact business and to translate them into requisite organizational changes


2. Critical competencies for HR specialists in shared service centers

For HR specialists working in shared service centers, the performance goal is to develop an efficient infrastructure that can deliver HR services consistently, responsively, and cost-effectively. Hence, HR Expertise competencies, in addition to Core competencies, are required though the other two domains are also desirable.

HR Expertise competencies include:

§          knowledge - of "best-in-class" HR practices through benchmarking and environmental scanning ability -to design and deliver HR services effectively through process management and improvement

§          ability - to apply information technology to HR capability - to measure the effectiveness of HR practices

3. Critical competencies for HR experts in centers of expertise

For HR experts working in centers of expertise such as those focusing on organizational change and new program design, the critical competencies are Consultation and Core. Competencies in Leadership and HR Expertise are desirable but not as critical as the other two domains.

Consultation competencies include:

§          influencing skills - the ability to help others accept your viewpoints

§          proposals consulting skills - the ability to diagnose/solve problems, and contract with clients

§          change facilitation and implementation skills

§          the ability to conceive, design, and implement programs in spite of resistance

§          collaboration and team building skills - the ability to motivate team members in working toward common goals

The proposed model of HR competencies is unique in several ways. First, it differentiates the critical competencies from desirable competencies for HR professionals in the four major roles, offering corporations a guide to a systematic and focused development of their HR professionals. Second, the importance of these competencies was found to exist, quite consistently, across a broad spectrum of industries we studied. Thus, the competencies may be considered generic and the model can be applicable to a wide range of companies. Third, the model integrates research findings from a variety of sources, including interviews reported in this study, previous survey research projects (Lawson, 1990; Ulrich, Brockbank, Yeung & Lake, 1995), and an analysis of HR competencies used in seven companies. As a result, the model's reliability and value are greater than a less expansive study would be.

How Do Corporations Acquire These New Competencies?

While quite a few research studies focus on the identification of critical competencies of HR professionals, very few studies discuss the strategies corporations can use to acquire or develop these new competencies. However, this neglected topic is critical for two reasons. First, a competency gap was observed in all the companies we studied. The HR leaders we interviewed estimated that only 10-35% of their HR professionals possess the required new competencies. Second, all HR leaders we interviewed agreed that it is much harder to develop new HR competencies than to simply identify them. Clearly, identifying the critical competencies is only the first step. Inculcating them - especially among those HR professionals who have become accustomed to the previous modus operandi - requires a significant investment of time and effort, involving the deployment of creative developmental approaches and strategies.

Although recruiting HR professionals with the required new competencies is always an option, in actual practice it has not been a major thrust or high priority for many companies for two reasons. First, because of their corporate cultures and HR philosophies, some companies may choose not to adopt a fire-and-hire strategy. Instead, they prefer to help existing HR professionals to retrain for a new set of competencies. For example, Hewlett-Packard believes that, among its own HR professionals, new opportunities for personal growth and higher business impact can serve as a catalyst to the development of new competencies. Hence, a variety of competency development programs are offered to meet the needs of existing HR professionals. Second, while some companies may take the position that the retraining of HR professionals is too costly and/or difficult and thus, the recruitment of those with the requisite competencies is a more viable alternative, these companies often encounter difficulties in recruiting HR professionals with the necessary competencies. As one would expect, the demand for HR professionals possessing the new competencies far exceeds the supply.

Because of these reasons, the HR leaders we interviewed employ a variety of strategies to ensure that the new HR competencies will be in place within three or five years. Exhibit 3 summarizes the strategies some companies are currently using. The strategies can be categorized into planning and assessment, communications, performance management, training, and development.

Planning and Assessment

Most companies begin their competency development program with a competency audit. The purposes of the audit are: (1) to assess the competency level of existing HR professionals in the critical competency areas; (2) to identify competency gaps and to prioritize developmental efforts; and (3) to monitor the progress of the competency development program on a regular basis. Companies such as Oracle, Transamerica, and Quantum Corporation have utilized competency audits to plan and assess their competency development program. The typical approach involves 360 degree competency assessment for individual HR professionals. These professionals receive personal feedback reports to assist them in prioritizing their developmental needs. To determine the overall competency level of an HR function, the average scores of all HR professionals across the identified competency items can be calculated.

The overall competency scores are often compared with established benchmarks, such as industry average, or historical trend (Ulrich, Brockbank & Yeung, 1989).


Once companies have identified the critical competencies and the competency gaps, they must communicate, clearly and consistently, their demands and expectations regarding new requisite HR roles and competencies, the availability of resources to support competency development programs, and the consequences of not meeting their expectations/goals.

David Lietzke, VP of HR at Bay Networks, believes that a solid competency development program "starts with the necessary demand from senior management of expecting higher value from the HR department. My boss, as the CEO, views my job as equivalent in value to the CFO, to the VP of engineering, to the VP of manufacturing, and expects me to deliver the same amount of value. I don't think people will last a long time in senior HR jobs here who don't have this perspective." With the ongoing need to deliver higher value to business, HR professionals at all levels are expected to sharpen their competencies to meet the new demands and challenges for HR function.

Communicating success stories and recognizing role models are other approaches which can be invaluable catalysts and strategies to reinforce the development of revamped HR competencies. At Hewlett-Packard, the worldwide personnel community uses an internal magazine, Exchange, to reinforce the new HR competencies that are valued within the function. As elaborated by Pete Peterson, senior VP of Personnel at HP: "Every issue will feature some human resource person or organization who is being highly effective in linking with line management to improve organizational effectiveness, lead change, whatever. That's reward, it's recognition, but it's also education. It's sharing best practices and offering examples within HP of where that's being done."

Performance Management

The impact of communications would be compromised if HR professionals do not clearly understand the vital linkages which exist between the new HR competencies and their personal career and rewards. At DFS Group Limited, for example, Jim WIggett, SVP of HR, uses performance reviews to encourage HR professionals to bridge competency gaps. "We've put specifications together for each of the human resource jobs, not full job descriptions, but a listing of competencies and skill sets. Each year when we meet to do the updates, the performance review, and the developmental plan, all my HR people create an individual development plan. It addresses those things in which they excel and those in which they need to improve. I require they attend two outside seminars, practicums, or advanced professional programs during the year. If they don't, they get marked down significantly in the performance review." By incorporating competency development into performance review, companies can ensure that HR professionals will address their competency development needs at a personal and relevant level.


While corporations are demanding that HR professionals revamp their competencies through communications and performance management strategies, they are also providing training resources for their staff through such diverse means as internal courses, external executive programs, and collaboration with universities.

Hewlett-Packard, for instance, has developed an ongoing course called "Personnel as a Competitive Advantage," targeting personnel managers and senior HR generalists worldwide. It is a dynamic five-day program built on how personnel can provide a competitive advantage to an organization and what kinds of new skills are required to make it happen - i.e., stimulating and leading change within the organization, improving organizational effectiveness, consultation, and leadership development. In addition to outside speakers, the chief financial officer discusses the financial aspect of the business while the senior vice president of personnel ensures that HR professionals understand the role, purpose, direction, and strategy for human resources in the company. For HR specialists in shared service centers, Hewlett-Packard offers other courses to strengthen their skills in their respective roles. Courses such as information technology, process management, and customer satisfaction are designed and delivered to ensure they have the right skills in place.

In addition to internal training, some companies are sending their HR professionals to external executive programs where they are exposed to managers from other functional disciplines or HR professionals from other companies. For example, DFS Group Limited has a policy requiring its senior HR professionals to attend two outside seminars or programs every year. Transamerica sends its HR professionals to Human Resource Planning Society for strategic HR programs. Increasingly, companies are asking universities to redesign their HR curricula to reflect the changing competencies. As David Lietzke, at Bay Networks, observes: "Academic training for HR people has to shift away from what I perceive to be a primary emphasis on traditional labor relations and human relations to a broader business context. We've had a few HR positions open where we were bringing in entry-level professional HR people who were right out of school or had only one or two years' experience. If you ask them what they've learned about HR, they'd mention labor laws and the kinds of questions you can and cannot ask in interview situations. But that's only the bottom line - things you can learn in two months. What you can't learn so easily is the business context, how to relate business elements to issues associated with human resources. So, you need to bring in the content knowledge about HR, the knowledge about your business, and financial knowledge. Then, you have to synthesize all three kinds of knowledge. You can't just know one of them - a focus which typically reflects academic training in HR." Therefore, universities should work closely with corporations to ensure that their HR graduates are well prepared for a set of competencies that will allow them to succeed in the coming years.


It is intriguing to note that while only ten percent of business learning often occurs through formal training, seventy percent usually takes place through on-the-job development (Robinson & Wick, 1992). Through systematic job assignments, peer learning networks, coaching and mentoring, corporations are creating exciting immediate learning opportunities for HR professionals. All these strategies can be powerful tools to expand the breadth and depth of knowledge among HR professionals.

According to Phil Wilson, SVP of HR at Oracle, "the best way to educate people is by making them work on the work. I set expectations for people. I get them involved in work that requires them to have these skills. I coach them. I mentor them. I support them to the best of my ability with resources and others. But I expect them to be successful."

What are the opportunities for HR professionals to learn on the job? Companies are using three kinds of job assignments. The first is the "stretch" assignment in which HR professionals, in addition to their regular responsibilities, work on special projects or teams that demand critical skills and competencies, such as designing and implementing an important business initiative, setting up a new business in the Asia-Pacific region, closing down a facility, or getting involved in a turnaround situation. The second kind, job rotation, requires HR professionals to rotate between different HR roles (e.g., generalist vs. specialist) and specialties (e.g., compensation vs. staffing), thus expanding their versatility. The third kind, one which is increasingly popular, is to rotate HR professionals between HR and line responsibilities. In this way, HR professionals can gain business knowledge, develop customer orientation, and enhance their credibility.

Another innovative approach for developing essential competencies is to organize HR professionals into peer learning networks. At Quantum, HR managers get together once a month in internal application groups and review each other's work. They might say: "Here's an organizational issue I'm working on and this is the approach I'm trying out." Then, they consult with each other: "Well, did you work with such and such a model?" Or: "Why didn't that model work?" The purpose is to offer consulting resources for each other, to learn collectively and collaboratively from each other's successes and failures.

The concept is being pushed even further at AT&T where the HR Professionalism Group 2 designed and deployed an interactive action learning project known as the "CRITTER" (Collaboration and Reflection for Innovation: Teaming Together for Excellence in Results). The purpose of CRITTER is to improve business results beyond what is currently expected by having HR managers learn with and from each other in a process of inquiry, reflection, and coaching based on their actual work.

As a participant in the CRITTER program, a person joins a group, known as an Action Set, for the purpose of engaging in a process of inquiry and reflection about their own specific work project. Participants enter into a committed partnership for at least a six month period, to work with and learn from each other. Members learn to help each other, to challenge Action Section members' views and approaches, clarify actual meanings, and see problems in a new light from multiple perspectives. By learning to surrender defensive approaches to communication, members maximize their knowledge and problem solving capabilities through their diverse interactions with other Action Set members. Each Action Set also has an assigned "learning coach" to support and maximize the learning that occurs on the team.

The program was developed in response to a need to integrate HR professional activities with real work tasks. It encompasses three fundamental principles of action learning: (1) learning means learning to take effective action; (2) learning needs to be expressed through actions on problems which involve implementation as well as analysis and recommendations; and (3) learning is a social process through which individuals learn with and from each other. By creating an open and safe learning environment, CRITTER offers HR professionals unusual opportunities to learn important skills of inquiry, reflection, and coaching; to develop critical competencies in thinking strategically; and to become catalysts for change, and effective business partners.

Finally, coaching, mentoring, and support provided by senior HR professionals are crucial to competency development initiatives. In some companies like DFS Group Limited, senior HR executives have personally committed time to develop their direct reports on a one-on-one basis. Jim Wiggett at DFS Group Limited explained how it works: "We pick a subject area for each of my direct reports in an area that is not in the HR professional's area of responsibility. That person and I spend a day going through all the background in that subject, reviewing materials that the function manager produced during the year, and talking about what the company strategy is in that area. The goal is that, over the course of about a three to four year period, I will have been cross-briefing them so that, in fact, I've got all the direct reports on a level playing field. This expands my options if I want to do some rotations and/or just be able to have dialogues in our staff meetings in which people understand where we are on a particular activity - let's say the development of a long-term incentive plan. I don't have to watch the employment person get glazed eyes or the employee relations person go for coffee, or whatever, because we all understand why that's important to us, overall, from a strategy standpoint and what we're trying to accomplish. It also invites questions and gets people involved. Finally, it encourages the use of peer groups as sounding boards; you now know that those people have some exposure to and real knowledge of your subject area. That creates the kind of teamwork which is very helpful for a function." By investing time with their direct reports on a one-on-one basis, senior HR executives can not only help them develop critical HR competencies, but also create strong rapport to facilitate their personal growth and transition. Implications

This article has identified a broad range of critical HR competencies and suggested ten developmental strategies corporations can use to bridge the competency gaps among their HR professionals. Given the dramatic changes many corporations and HR functions are facing, it is clear that the "good old days" of HR functions have gone. Simply possessing good social interaction skills is no longer sufficient for handling increasingly complex and challenging HR roles and responsibilities. Nor will HR functions that focus on routine operational HR activities be useful in the decades ahead. They simply will not survive for long. They may either be outsourced, automated, or eliminated altogether. For HR professionals, complaining about the changes or missing the old ways of doing things will not help. To embrace the changes and make the transformation successful, both HR professionals and HR organizations need each other.

Given the new employee covenant and the many complex pressures the HR function is facing, HR professionals have little choice but to make a commitment to retrain themselves as soon as possible. Otherwise, their skills and contribution will quickly become obsolete. As mentioned earlier, the demand for professionals with new HR competencies far exceeds the supply. Hence, the earlier he/she can make a transition to attaining the requisite competencies, the better one's career opportunities will be. HR professionals need to think through the roles for which they want to position themselves. They must utilize, to the fullest, every possible resource and opportunity to expand their skills whether it be on-the-job, off-the-job, from their boss, their peers or even from internal customers. The psychological and physical costs of managing the transition may be hard. But the costs of not changing are likely to be even harder.

Many companies believe they need to identify those competencies which they perceive as relevant to a particular industry and compatible with its unique culture, management philosophy, and HR function. However, as this article has noted, research studies have shown that many HR competencies are fairly generic to companies, regardless of the particular industry. By all means, time must be spent in identifying the critical competencies. However, even more time and energy should be devoted to develop those competencies. The secret is: "Just start doing it."

To be sure, revamping HR's visions, strategies, structures, systems, and processes cannot proceed or be sustained if the new competencies required of HR professionals are not being developed. Hence, it is imperative that each company's HR function creates an overall plan for enhancing the competencies of its HR professionals. Senior HR executives must communicate clearly and consistently their demands and expectations to HR professionals, offer resources to support competency development of HR people, and hold them accountable through periodic performance reviews. They need to be cognizant of the pitfall of paralysis by analysis; analysis is only valuable if it is combined with an action plan. Thus, while identifying the requisite competencies is critical, developing those competencies is even more important. The fruits of these efforts are likely to be harvested for years to come.

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[Author Affiliation]

Arthur Yeung is a core HR faculty member at the University of Michigan's Executive Education Center, the Director of Executive Learning of the California Strategic Human Resource Partnership (an independent consortium consisting of senior HR executives of 31 leading Northern California companies), and an associate editor of Human Resource Management Journal. Dr. Yeung received his bachelor and master degrees from the University of Hong Kong and his doctoral degree from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Yeung's areas of specialization include HR process redesign/reengineering, the transformation of HR functions, changing competencies of HR professionals, developing organizational learning capabilities, and designing HR practices for Asia-Pacific operations. He is the project manager of an award-winning study - Human Resources Competencies for the 1990's - which established one of the largest databases in the fields of human resource management and competencies. His article on HR reengineering was also recognized by Human Resource Planning Society




[Author Affiliation]

as "The Best Research Paper of the Year" in 1995. In addition to research and teaching, Dr. Yeung has also been involved in training and consulting projects for numerous major American and Asian corporations, including Philips, AlliedSignal Inc., Carrier, Hewlett-Packard, Tandem Computers, PG&E, Boeing Corporation, Sara Lee Corporation, AMOCO, GE, Reynolds & Reynolds and University Hospitals of Cleveland.

He published more than 15 articles in journals




[Author Affiliation]

such as Human Resource Management, Human Resource Planning, Research in Personnel and Human Resource Management, Research in Organizational Change and Development, and Personnel Administrator. In addition, he is a coauthor of three books: Human Resources as a Competitive Advantage, Organizational Learning Capability: Key to Continued Success in Today's Business Environment, and Strategic Human Resource Management.




[Author Affiliation]

Patricia Woolcock, formerly Managing Director of the California Strategic Human Resource Partnership, is currently HR Programs Specialist at Bay Networks Inc. She has done consulting with major high technology companies in Silicon Valley. After receiving her MBA from the University of Michigan she was the manager of the Organizational Studies Laboratory there (a facility founded by a grant from IBM), supporting the Michigan Human Resource Partnership and the Global Leadership Program. Ms. Woolcock has worked overseas for more than ten years.




[Author Affiliation]

John Sullivan is a Professor of H.R. and the Coordinator of the Human Resource Management Program at San Francisco State University's College of Business. He is also an advisory to the California Strategic Human Resource Partnership. Dr. Sullivan has over 25 years experience as a consultant to management. His current research/ consulting interests include HR "best practices" and increasing HR's business impact. Dr. Sullivan received his Ph.D. in Human Resource Management from the University of Florida.