MB 728 Current Topics in Human Resources:
Creating and Managing Intangible Assets through Human Resource Practices
Spring 2003

Candace Jones, Ph.D. office: Fulton 435  552-0457
Course: Tuesday and Thursday 11:00-1 PM.  March 11 through April 27
Office hours: Monday 10:45-12:00 P.M. and by appointment

    This course is Human Resources for General Managers, not for HR Specialists.  It is an introduction to the role of human resource practices and how they are used to manage intangible assets and gain competitive advantage.  The course is organized as a seminar-- exploring ideas and sharing insights.  Thus, active involvement and participation by students is necessary.  The course has two primary objectives:
1. Exploring how HR practices are
·    shaped by the organization's strategic goals,
·    used to develop intangible assets as a competitive basis for firms
·    employed to support and enhance organizational flexibility

2. Developing skills essential to your managerial success, including
·    thinking analytically
·    applying and integrating a variety of ideas
·    writing clearly and concisely
·    expressing your  ideas to others.

    Most articles are available through online services. Please see either Business source premier or my personal webpage for links to PDF files of articles. My personal webpage is www2.bc.edu/~jonescq. A reading package and cases are available in the bookstore.

Organizational Capability                       30%
Two case write-ups                25%       50%
Participation                                          20%

    Organizational capability analysis:  This analysis forms the basis for the two other firm analyses by identifying (a) the firm’s strategy (e.g., low cost leader, innovation leader etc), (b) the firm’s intangible assets which provide its source of competitive advantage  and (c) how the firm assesses the value of its intangibles.  It is required of each student. Case criteria are used for grading this analysis.

    Case Write-ups:  The two case write-ups are to enhance your understanding of the readings and facilitate interesting discussions through application to a firm.  Think of these as a live and ongoing “case study.”  Choose a firm to which you want to apply the readings.  You must use the same firm for the organization capability analysis and two case write-ups.  The firm may be one in which you have worked in the recent past (within the last 2 years), your Diane Weiss firm or a firm you want to get to know better.  You may derive your information from your experience in the firm, publications about or by the firm, and interviews with those in the firm.  Your factual arguments need to be supported with exhibits provided in an appendix. The cases should be 2 pages single space text plus whatever exhibits or diagrams are needed.  The written portion of the case cannot be more than 2 pages.  The case should have a brief introduction consisting of a thesis statement and a brief conclusion summing up the key issues.  The cases will be evaluated according to three criteria:
1) Analysis: claims/arguments are supported by logic or examples
2) Application of the readings: key ideas from the readings enhance understanding of the situation and support your arguments 
3) Writing skills: clear concise writing, well-organized thoughts, appropriate use of headers and subheaders to guide the reader and signal transitions. 
     See grading criteria

    Participation.  Since the course is designed to explore and share ideas, the quality of your participation is critical.  You are expected to come prepared.  This means not only doing the readings but preparing to apply these readings to the cases and your firms.  It also means making comments relevant to the discussion, and engaging in a dialog with other course members and the instructor.  We do not have to agree with one another--nor should we for interesting and stimulating discussions.  However, we should show courtesy to and respect for one another in our discussions.  Because your participation is critical, it comprises a significant proportion of your grade and involves both peer and professor evaluations.

ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION in the class are required.

March 11    Strategic H. R.: Using HR to Develop Competitive Advantage
1. Barney, J. 1995. Looking inside for competitive advantage. Academy of Executive Management, 9(4): 49-61. (SKIM)
2. Ulrich, D. & Lake, D. 1991. Organization capability: creating competitive advantage. Academy of Management Executive, Feb91, Vol. 5 Issue 1: 77-92.                (KNOW)
3. Model of human resource strategy: resource transformation and governance

    Learning Objective: Understand the key components of the resource-based view and how it underpins organizational capability for competitive advantage. Understand the changing role of human resources and how these new demands alter the competencies and approaches needed for managing intangibles.

March 13    Benefits and Challenges of Strategic Human Resources
1.Rynes, S., Brown, K.G. & Colbert, A.E. 2002. Seven common misconceptions about human resource practices: Research findings versus practioner beliefs.            Academy of Management Executive, 15(3): 92-103.
2. King, A.W., Fowler, S.W. & Zeithaml, C.P. 2001. Managing organizational competencies for competitive advantage: The middle-management edge. Academy of Management Executive, 15(2): 95-106.
3. FILL OUT AND HAND IN. Ibarra, H. 1998. Network Assessment Exercise: Executive version, Harvard Business School, 9-947-002. PACKET

     Guest speaker Chet Labedz

    Learning Objective: Identify the HR practices that are critical for organizational effectives. Awareness of how critical but difficult it is to link HR practices to firm competitive strategy and even link HR practices together coherently in a firm.

March 18     Identifying & Measuring Intangibles
1.    Hall, R. 1992. The strategic analysis of intangible resources.  Strategic Management Journal, 13, 135-144. (KNOW THIS ARTICLE. PACKET).
2.    Stewart, T.A. 1995. Trying to grasp the intangible. Fortune, October 2: 157-161. (SKIM. PACKET)
3.    Stewart, T.A. 1996. The coins in the knowledge bank. Fortune, February 19: 101-102. (SKIM. PACKET)
4.    Helyar, J. 1996. How Atlanta went from baseball clowns to kings of the diamond. Wall Street Journal , October 1. (KNOW. PACKET)

    Learning Objective: Understand different types of intangible assets and how they influence organizational capability.  Identify the knowledge and skill mix of your firm’s human assets. Understand some of the approaches to measuring intangibles and the variety of rough indicators that can be used such as industry based comparisons, accounting measures, cost-effectiveness ratios, leverage etc.

    Questions: What are the Atlanta Brave's intangible assets? What HR practices  develop these intangibles and how? What financial or other indicators help us to evaluate the influence of these intangible assets? What measures are most appropriate for your firm?  How do the use of these measures shape managing and cultivating intangible assets?

March 20     Recruitment, Selection and Psychological Contracts
1.    Baker, W. 2000. What is social capital and why should you care about it? PDF file available at: www.humax.net/bakerchap1.pdf (~26 pages) (SKIM)
2.    Behling, O. 1998. Employee selection: Will intelligence and conscientiousness do the job? Academy of Management Executive, 12(1):77-86. (KNOW)
3.    Rousseau, D.M. & Greller, M.M. 1994. Human resource practices: Administrative contract makers. Human Resource Management, 33:385-401. (KNOW. PACKET)
4.    Braun, M. 1997. Organizational infidelity: How violations of trust affect the employee-employer relationship. Academy of Management Executive, 11(4):94-95.

    Learning Objective: Understand how recruitment uses social capital and how social capital affect recruiting strategies. Lean how selection is a two way communication process—identifying and choosing desired employees but also communicating who the firm is and what employees can expect. This communication process creates “psychological contracts” between employee and employer.
    Paper Objectives: Identify your firm’s recruitment and selection tactics. How does your firm target and identify potential employees? Is it through newspaper ads, on campus recruiting, head hunters or employee referral? What do these tactics say to potential employees about what they can expect? Who makes and breaks the psychological contracts in the firm?  What kinds of psychological contracts do the HR policies imply?

DUE: Organizational Capability Analysis on March 20

March 25    Cultivating or Acquiring Talent?
1.    Tichy, N. 2001. No ordinary bootcamp. Harvard Business Review, April: 5-11. (Skim. PACKET)
2.    Kelley, R. and Caplan, J. 1993. How Bell Labs creates star performers. Harvard Business Review, July-August, 128-139.
3.    O’Reilly, C.A. and Pfeffer, J. 2000. Cisco systems: Acquiring and retaining talent in hypercompetitive markets. Human Resource Planning, 23: 38-52. (SKIM)

    Learning Objective: Understand different options for training or acquiring talent. Explore how (and if) training and acquisition influences a firm’s capability development.

    Questions: What key capabilities are targeted for training or acquisition in your firm?  Should you buy or make your talent?  If you train, who trains employees, how are processes and content linked to providing competitive advantage for the firm (e.g., develop capabilities to achieve strategic goals)? If you acquire, what skills and resources do you seek? How do you identify these and if they are the “right fit” for your organization?

March 27    Reinforcing Competencies through Performance Appraisals
1.    Gabarro, J.J. and Hill, L. 1996. Managing Performance.  Harvard Business Notes, 9-496-022, pp.1-7. (KNOW. PACKET)
2.    Scott, S.G. & Einstein, W.O. 2001. Strategic performance appraisal in team-based organizations: One size does not fit all. Academy of Management Executive, 15(2): 107-116. SKIM
3.    Firmwide 360 degree Performance evaluation at Morgan Stanley, 9-498-053.
4.    Case: Rob Parsons at Morgan Stanley (A) 9-498-054 Pp. 1-16. (KNOW. PACKET).

    Learning Objective: Understand how performance appraisals focus employee attention on desired behaviors.  Explore how firms use or misuse appraisals to achieve competitive advantage. 

    Case Questions:  What behaviors did Morgan Stanley shape with their 360 performance appraisal?  Did these behaviors advance competitive advantage?  What tensions were exposed within Morgan Stanley in their evaluation of Rob Parsons? 

    Questions: Identify the behaviors your firm sees as critical and needed in order to attain its strategy and enhance organizational capability.  Are these behaviors linked to the performance appraisal system? Does the performance appraisal system align or decouple strategic goals and desired behavior to meet these goals?


April 1   Reinforcing Competencies through Reward Systems
1.    Kerr, S. 1995. On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B. Academy of Management Executive,Vol. 9 Issue 1:7-15 (KNOW)
2.    Kohn, A. 1993. Why incentive plans cannot work. Harvard Business Review, Sept-Oct., 2-7. (SKIM. PACKET)
3.    Commentary from various authors. 1993. Rethinking rewards. Harvard Business Review, Nov-Dec., 3-11. (SKIM. PACKET)
4.    Zernike, K. 1999. MIT women win a fight against bias. Boston Globe, March 21. A1.
    Learning Objective:  Understand the role of rewards in signaling what is valued. Know the variety of rewards available to influence behavior.  Understand the link of rewards to  firm strategy and organizational capability.

    Questions: What rewards were offered by MIT?  Who received these rewards? What was the implicit, if not explicit, message of these rewards and their distribution?  What behaviors and values were they reinforcing?

    Paper Questions: What rewards are employed by your firm?  Are these rewards reinforcing or diminishing the firm's intangible assets such as expertise, networks, or reputation? What behaviors are identified and rewarded in the firm?  How do these relate to the firm’s organizational strategy?  Does the reward system enhance, detract or ignore its organizational capabilities?


April 3     Structuring for Flexibility and Knowledge
1.    Moore, D & Birkinsaw, J. 1996. Managing knowledge in global service firms: Centers of excellence. Academy of Management Executive, 12(4): 81-92.
2.    DeSanctis, Glass and Ensing. 2002. Organizational design for R&D. Academy of Management Executive, 16(3): 55-67.  (SKIM)
3.    Booz-Allen & Hamilton: Vision 2000. Harvard case 9-396-031 pp 1-19.

    Learning Objective: Understand the key components in organizational design and how they relate to organizational capability. Understand how the different types of designs and structures influences managing knowledge and cultivating organizational capability.
    Questions: How is your company organized? What degree of centralization and decentralization does it have?

April 8     Creating a Shared Mindset: Organizational Culture
1.    Christensen, C.1999. What is an organizational culture? Harvard Business School note 9-399-104. Pp. 1-7. (Skim. PACKET)
2.    Collins, J. & Porras, J.I. 1996. Building your company’s vision. Harvard Business Review, September-October: 65-77. (KNOW. PACKET)
3.    Microsoft Culture change NY Times magazine. Handout.

    Learning Objective:  Understand how a shared culture directs and guides behavior. Learn how to identify and create a company vision on which to build knowledge
    Questions: Does your firm have a shared vision? What are the key components of that vision?  Does your company actively cultivate a shared culture?  What HR practices are involved in cultivating a shared mindset?


April 10     Managing Individual and Corporate Reputation
1.    Cialdini, R.B. 2001. Harnessing the science of persuasion. Harvard Business Review, October: 72-79.
2.    Elsbach, K.D., Sutton, R.I. & Principe, K.E. 1998. Averting expected challenged through anticipatory impression management: A study of hospital billing. Organization Science, 9: 68-86.
3.    Rossin Greenberg Seronick and Hill, Inc (A, B&C) Harvard Business School Case 9-589-124 (B&C to be handed out in class)

    Learning Objective: Learn how individuals and corporations build reputations.  Be able to identify the factors that define and shape reputations.  Identity specific skills and tactics used to cultivate reputation.  Understand the relationship between individual and corporate reputations.

    Questions:  What is your firm's reputation? What actions generated this reputation?  What intangible assets are captured by and helped develop this reputation? How does your firm's reputation influence its strategies and future capability development?

April 15    Enhancing Creativity
1.    Amabile, T., Hadley, C.N. & Kramer, S.J. 2002. Creativity under the gun. Harvard Business Review,  August: 1-12.
2.    Bangle, C. 2000. The ultimate creativity machine: How BMW turns art into profit. Harvard Business Review, 5-11.
3.    Hargadon, A. & Sutton, R. 2000. Building an innovation factory. Harvard Business Review, May-June: 158-166.
4.    Loeb, M. 1995. Ten commandments for managing creative people. Fortune, January 16: 135-136. (SKIM)

    Learning Objective: Understand key components of managing creativity.  Assess how creativity is cultivated and how it influences intangibles assets such as reputation, networks, and culture. 

    Questions for paper:  How does your firm manage creativity?  Does it have brainstorming rules?  Does the culture support creativity? Who acts as the interface to “protect” creativity? Do the firm's practices enhance creativity through how work is structured, rewarded, and managed?

April 17    No Class    Easter Break

April 22    Managing Change
1.    Beer, M. & Nohria, N. 2000. Cracking the code of change. Harvard Business Review, May-June: 1331-14.
2.    Larkin, T.J.& Larkin, S. 1996. Reaching and changing frontline employees. Harvard Business Review,  May-June, 95-104.
3.    Parcells, B. 2000. The tough work of turning around a team. Harvard Business Review,  November-December: 179-184.
4.    Hamel, G. 2000. Waking up IBM: How a gang of unlikely rebels transformed big blue. Harvard Business Review,  July-August:5-11.

April 24    Managing Work Family Tensions
1.    Hewitt, S.A. 2002. Executive woman and the myth of having it all. Harvard Business Review,  5-11.
2.    Morris, B. 1997. Is your family wrecking your career? (and vice versa), Fortune, March 17, 71-90.
3.    Bailyn, L., Fletcher, J. & Kolb, D. 1997. Unexpected connections:  Considering employees’ personal lives can revitalize your business. Sloan Management Review, Summer: 11-20.

    Learning Objective: Understand the competitive and corporate dynamics leading to problems in managing time and the work tensions that result.  The inability to manage time as a resource has significant implications for work-family conflicts, turnover, and employee morale and productivity. 

    Questions: How does your firm manage time and its employees' time?  What types of work tensions result?  Can these tensions be solved through employment practices?  What kind of work-practices does your firm engage in?  Are these practices provided for all jobs or only some?  What is the rationale for engaging in these practices and how do they influence intangible assets.  How are these practices related to firm strategy, (if they are)?


An A level of participation involves:
    1) Does not miss class except for uncontrollable emergencies.
    2) Offers input often, but does not dominate class discussions.  Comments are clear and succinct.  Follows class discussion to make relevant comments. 
    3)  Takes risk in answering difficult or unpopular questions.
    4) Is prepared for class.  This is demonstrated by a) applying ideas from the readings to issues in the discussion b) challenging or extending ideas in the readings c)         integrating or contrasting ideas from previous reading assignments.
    5) Shows consideration for others (e.g., does not interrupt others, talk loudly during their input or behave in a disruptive way).

A B level of participation involves:
    1) Misses one or two classes that are not emergencies.
    2) Offers input often, but dominates class discussions.  Comments are long-winded and not always clear. Or does not consistently offer input in discussions.
    3)  Answers questions but rarely takes risk in answering difficult or unpopular questions.
    4) Is prepared for class.  This is demonstrated by a) applying ideas from the readings to issues in the discussion b) challenging or extending ideas in the readings c)         integrating or contrasting ideas from previous reading assignments.
    5) Shows consideration for others (e.g., does not interrupt others, talk loudly during their input or behave in a disruptive way).

A C level or below involves the following:
    1) Misses classes often.
    2) Only offers input when asked or rarely during the semester.
    3) Is unprepared for class.  Has not done readings. Cannot or will not answer questions.
    4) Is inconsiderate of others (e.g., interrupts others, talks loudly during their input or behaves in a disruptive way).

The case should be two pages single spaced and using 12 point font.

    1) The introduction identifies the central idea (thesis) of the case analysis
    2) Headings, subheadings and/or indentations/spacing are used to help guide the reader through the paper
    3) Each paragraph has a topic statement identifying its central idea and the other sentences also deal with this central theme
    4) The order of the paragraphs makes logical sense and facilitates the flow of ideas in the case analysis
    5) The conclusion summarizes the arguments, is congruent with your introduction and provides no new information

    1) The length of the sentences are varied to avoid monotony
    2) Unnecessary words are eliminated and interposes avoided
    3) Definite, specific and concrete language is used
    4) Unnecessary and meandering repetitions are eliminated
    5) The paper is free from grammatical errors and misspellings

    1) Arguments are specific and clearly stated
    2) Arguments provide a consistent viewpoint throughout the paper
    3) Arguments are supported with evidence (facts, statistics, quotes)
    4) Objective evidence (facts, statistics) rather than authority or personal experience is used often
    5) Explanation about the relationship between argument and evidence is provided.

    1) Ideas from the readings are applied to clarify issues/problems in the case
    2) The Application of concepts shows an accurate understanding of the readings
    3) The application of ideas is not merely a restatement of class discussions
    4) The application of ideas shows novel or unique insights into the case
    5) The source of the idea is clearly documented (e.g., Bennis argues that... or Nadler and Tushman's model of organization is applied...)