Senior managements possess considerable discretion in making choices on personnel policy. Practice indicates a broad range of choice on a continuum from high strategic integration of human resource issues in strategic planning to more piecemeal ad hoc approaches to managing human resources. The particular approach adopted in organisations will reflect the interplay of internal and external factors in the organisation′s environment and establish the context for human resource development (HRD). A key external factor is the product market which affects managerial discretion in personnel policy choice. Important internal factors include competitive strategy and managerial values. Three benchmark dimensions underpin personnel policy choice in organisations – strategic integration, collectivism and individualism. Management positions on these dimensions become manifested in key areas of personnel policy such as the work system, communications, rewards, recruitment/employee development and the role of the personnel function. Looking at the Irish context a number of factors both encouraging and mitigating a greater strategic role for HRD may be identified.
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