Bangladesh HR professionals’ competencies. Impact on firm performance and moderating effects of organisation life cycle

DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/EBHRM-12-2017-0064
Pages203-220
Publication Date06 August 2018
AuthorVerma Prikshat,Kumar Biswas,Alan Nankervis,Md. Rakibul Hoque
SubjectHR & organizational behaviour,Global HRM
Bangladesh HR professionals
competencies
Impact on firm performance and moderating
effects of organisation life cycle
Verma Prikshat
Department of Management, Australian Institute of Business, Adelaide, Australia
Kumar Biswas
School of Management, Federation University Australia, Mt Helen, Australia
Alan Nankervis
School of Management, Curtin Business School, Bentley, Australia, and
Md. Rakibul Hoque
Department of Business Informatics, Dhaka University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the HR roles of Bangladesh HR professionals in the public
and private firms in Bangladesh using Human Resource Competency Study (HRCS) model (2016). The impact
of identified HR competencies on firm performance and moderation of this relationship concerning different
stages of organisation life cycle (OLC) is also explored.
Design/methodology/approach This quantitative study uses the HRCS model (RBL, 2015) as its
underpinning analytical framework, and explores the impact of identified HR competencies on firm
performance and analyses whether this relationship is moderated by different OLC stages. The sample for
this study consisted of 202 HR professionals from both public and private organisations in Bangladesh.
Findings Results confirmed that all the nine competencies of HRCS model were demonstrated by the HR
professionals in Bangladesh. The credible activistcompetency achieved the top ranking and paradox
navigator competencyrecorded the lowest. Minor variation in terms of levels of competencies was observed
in the context of private and public firms. HR competencies positively impacted the firm performance and
only the maturity and growth stages of a firms life cycle moderated this relationship.
Originality/value There is a deficit of studies which have tested this relationship in terms of the
moderating effects of OLC stages in the Asian developing country context. Focusing on this paucity of
research concerning the transference of western human resource management models in developing
economies and their resultant impact on firm performance, this is the first study set out to explore whether the
most cited western HRCS model (RBL, 2015) is useful in understanding HR competencies in Bangladesh.
Keywords Convergence/divergence of HR, HR competencies, HR in developing countries
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
In light of the continuing debate as to whether western human resource management (HRM)
models will converge, diverge or develop towards a hybrid form in Asian developing
economies, given their unique socio-cultural, institutional, political-legal and business
contexts, a detailed comparison of HR roles and their impact on firm performance in Asian
environments assumes significant importance (Björkman et al., 2008; Rowley et al., 2017;
Zhu et al., 2007). There is a manifestation of HRM role convergence into defined
competencies associated with these western HRM models; constructs that can capture the
complexity and dynamics of the HRM function, and enable HRM to be continuously
effective in driving firm performance and creating sustainable competitive advantages
(Ramlall, 2006; Ulrich and Dulebohn, 2015). HR competencies are the outcomes of the values,
roles, knowledge and abilities of HR professionals, and offer a mechanism for linking HR
strategy and organisational performance (Liu et al., 2014; Ngo et al., 2014). Many researchers
Evidence-based HRM: a Global
Forum for Empirical Scholarship
Vol. 6 No. 2, 2018
pp. 203-220
© Emerald PublishingLimited
2049-3983
DOI 10.1108/EBHRM-12-2017-0064
Received 28 December 2017
Revised 11 February 2018
Accepted 14 February 2018
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/2049-3983.htm
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Bangladesh
HR
professionals
competencies
have observed a positive relationship between certain HRM competencies and firm
performance (Boselie and Paauwe, 2004; Huselid et al., 1997; Long and Ismail, 2011; Ramlall,
2006; Subramony, 2009; Wright et al., 2001).
Due to a combination of economic and geo-political factors, explorations of the
transference of western HRM models, expressed in terms of the competencies of HR
professionals and their link with firm performance, have been limited to selected developed
and developing economies in south and south-east Asia, including Japan, South Korea,
China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and India (Budhwar
et al., 2016). While some studies have investigated HR competencies in general (Bhatnagar
and Sharma, 2005; Bowen et al., 2002; Cunningham and Debrah, 1995; Jacoby et al., 2005;
Mamman and Somantri, 2014; Sumelius et al., 2009; Zhu et al., 2005), and their relationship
with firm performance (Björkman and Xiucheng, 2002; De Wang and Niu, 2010; Galang and
Osman, 2016; Long and Ismail, 2011; Osman et al., 2011; Singh, 2004), there is a deficit of
studies which have tested this relationship with the presence of the moderating effects of the
stages of organisation life cycle (OLC) stages in the Asian developing country context.
Focusing on this paucity of research concerning the transference of western HRM models
in developing economies and their resultant impact on firm performance, this study set out
to explore whether the most cited western Human Resource Competency Study (HRCS)
model (RBL, 2015) is useful in understanding HR competencies in Bangladesh. Given the
manifestation of diverse HRM roles in terms of competencies, this study explored the roles
of Bangladesh HR professionals in private and public firms against the nine competencies of
the HRCS model, and the impact of the identified HR competencies on firm performance.
Furthermore, it analysed the moderating effect of different stages of OLC on the relationship
between identified HR competencies and firm performance in the context of Bangladesh.
The study offers four important contributions. First, the results of the study reveal whether
the competencies of HR professionals in Bangladesh are converging with or diverging from
a popular western HRM model. Second, the study highlights the similarities and differences,
in terms of the identified competencies of HR professionals in Bangladesh, on the basis of
the type of organisation (private vs public). Third, it investigates the relationship between
the identified HR competencies and firm performance; and finally, it tests whether this
relationship is moderated by any stages of the organisationslife cycle (i.e. birth, growth,
maturity and decline).
The next part of the paper reviews the literature concerning western HR competency
models and in particular the HRCS model developed by RBL group. To assess the
applicability of the HRCS model in the context of Bangladesh, and to further identify the
competencies of Bangladesh HR professionals, the institutional theory and cross-cultural
theoretical frameworks are also explored, followed by the literature that establishes linkages
between HRM strategies and OLC.
The third section focuses on the research questions and the formulation of hypotheses,
and the fourth section explains the research methodology used for this study as well as
various measures used for this research. The fifth section presents the findings of the study
followed by discussion, conclusion and implications of this study. The last section covers
the limitations of the study as well as suggesting directions for future research.
2. Literature review
2.1 Human resource competency study (HRCS)
The development of western HR competency models continues to be an area of interest to
professionals, researchers, academics, employers and consultants (Cohen, 2015; Hoskings, 2015;
RBL, 2015; Schutte et al., 2015). All of these models are based on the identification and definition
of the specific competencies which can assist HR professionals to support their organisations in
achieving success and sustainability (Sikora and Ferris, 2014; Ulrich et al., 2008). Over the
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