ARTICLE CRITIQUE 8
Hutchison, A & Boxall P 2014, ‘The critical challenges facing New Zealand’s
chief executives: implications for management skills’, Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, vol. 52, pp: 23–41.
Problem Statement, Hypothesis and Research Questions
The thesis statement focused on risks and challenges facing business organizations in New Zealand. The authors stated that these challenges and risks can be understood better by getting the views of chief executive officers, who are responsible for dealing with them. Therefore, the aim of the article was to present findings on what chief executives in New Zealand find to be the most important issues in their environments, and to discuss the implications of these issues for management skills. As the statement of the problem suggests, New Zealand chief executive officers face a myriad of challenges and risks, which they must address sufficiently and regularly to keep their organizations competitive and sustainable. The thesis statement agrees with the title of the article and is clearly visible to the reader.
Based on the thesis statement, I think the article’s strength lies in the ability to reflect on what New Zealand business leaders ought to embrace as they set to realign their management practices with global trends and best practices. The main weakness is that the research was limited to the authors’ resources and capabilities, meaning that they were not able to explore any relevant issues outside the scope of the thesis statement. Although no specific hypothesis or research question is stated in this article, the authors have clearly addressed the overall context of their research. The researcher’s objectives were fairly answerable and were obtained by analyzing the findings in the context of the thesis statement.
No clear review of literature is noted in this article. However, the authors have made appropriate references to articles that were used to develop a theoretical underpinning for the study. These references contributed to the reader’s overall understanding of the research problem and the reasoning for establishing the noted research problem. In order to highlight the context of the study, the authors have given an outline of New Zealand’s organizational landscape and its management capabilities. To accomplish this, the authors drew heavily from previous studies on the subject and even incorporated findings from other countries such as Australia. In so doing, the authors have made it easier for readers to appreciate the relevance of the findings in the New Zealand context.
A key shortcoming of this article is that the authors failed to review literature on the challenges and risks presented by organizational culture and behavior on management strategies and practices. According to Youndt and Snell (2004, p.338), organizational culture can be an impediment to the realization of organizational objectives. It is therefore suggested that the authors could have incorporated a review of literature on this important aspect. In addition, the authors did not review literature on how management practices and decisions in New Zealand organizations are influenced by practices in other countries. There is sufficient evidence to show that due to the forces of globalization, management practices have converged and therefore organizations face fairly similar challenges and risks all over the world.
Another shortcoming is that the authors have not identified any gaps in the exiting literature. Although this topic has been studied extensively by scholars in New Zealand, there are numerous gaps, which can form the basis for future studies. Central to the identification of gaps is the understanding that the New Zealand’s organizational landscape has changed fundamentally over the past few decades due to the influence of information technology and other forces that require a paradigm shift in management practices.
The authors have stated that their research method was based on a survey. Both qualitative and quantitative variables were included in the survey. The data collection procedure has been described in great details as could be expected in a qualitative study. One thousand questionnaires were sent to the chief executive officers of New Zealand’s largest organizations. The organizations were identified using a directory of the most important organizations in the country. The participating organizations were drawn from the public, private and not-for-profit organizations. Out of the 1000 chief executives issued with the questionnaires, 265 filled the questionnaires and returned them to the researchers, giving a response rate of slightly less than 30%. The authors have noted that some of the chief executives failed to fill the questionnaires due to time constraints and pressures arising from their duties.
In this study, using a survey as the primary methodology was appropriate for several reasons. First, surveys are useful in describing study variables involving large populations. In New Zealand, there are thousands of companies engaged in various businesses. No other research method can effectively and accurately describe such a large sample. Secondly, surveys are flexible in that the questionnaires can be followed up through phone conversations, emails and face to face interviews. Third, surveys allow participants to answer anonymously, which make them open and honest. It has been established that surveys conducted anonymously result in more accurate and unambiguous responses (Patton, 2002, p. 22).
The authors have noted that care was taken to ensure that the sample contained representatives from all industries in New Zealand. However, the sample focused more on large organizations leaving out small and medium sized organizations. Therefore, the findings are likely to be skewed because the challenges facing small organizations are distinct from those facing large organizations. The authors have not explained explicitly the measures they took to ensure reliability and validity of their findings. Nonetheless, there are indications that the findings are reliable and valid especially because of the incorporation of findings from previous studies.
Results and Discussion
The authors begin discussing their findings by relating everything back to the thesis statement and overall purpose of the study. This way, they provide a framework for understanding how their findings are related to and supportive of the research problem. Based on the analysis of challenges and risks, the authors identify three main themes as being important to enhancement of management capabilities in New Zealand. These are: management of people and internal resources; management of partners and stakeholders; and management of uncertainty.
As the business environment becomes more competitive, there is need for organizations to develop capabilities and new strategies for managing people and internal resources. According to Hitt, Haynes and Serpa (2010, p. 437), the human resources are the most important strategic resources in many organizations. When managed well, these resources can be a source of competitive advantages for New Zealand companies. Good leadership is not only essential for the success of organizations but is also a critical component for effective people management within organizations. In view of the findings in this research, HR professionals in New Zealand should establish robust strategies and systems for managing people.
Managing stakeholders and strategic partners is critical to the success of contemporary organizations in New Zealand. For typical organizations in New Zealand, stakeholders include diverse groups such as employees, customers, suppliers, regulators, the civil society, trade unions, competitors, creditors and shareholders. Each of these groups of stakeholders have different interests and expectations which must be addressed to their satisfaction. To remain sustainable and competitive, chief executives must develop dynamic ways of engaging these stakeholders to deliver win-win outcomes (Daniels, Radebaugh & Sullivan 2014, p. 61).
Managing uncertainty is paramount because organizations exist and operate in an environment that is unpredictable and constantly changing. As noted by Flyvbjerg (2003, p. 22) competition, changing customer preferences, globalization and economic downturns are the main factors responsible for uncertainty in organizations. Existence of uncertainty means that business executives cannot make decisions that accurately predict the future of their organizations especially when the market remains dynamic. Making strategic decisions under uncertainty requires avoidance of unfounded assumptions. For the chief executives in New Zealand, it is necessary to take this consideration into account.
In their conclusion, the authors report that the chief executives of organizations in New Zealand face a challenging business environment with uncertain markets and changing technologies, in which the unconditional support of key stakeholders is paramount. Most organizations are confronted with the war of talent due to the mass retirement of baby boomers, leaving behind a vulnerable workforce with little leadership skills. Private sector organizations are faced with the difficult challenge of reframing and realigning their business models to cope with the fast-paced realities of today’s market place. Non-profit organizations on the other hand have to adjust to an environment of severe constraints in funding. To survive, these organizations have to find new ways of accomplishing their objectives with limited resources (Nag, Hambrick& Chen 2007, p. 937).
The findings in Hutchison and Boxall’s research reflect how chief executives in New Zealand perceive the business environment around them. The findings are consistent with those from previous studies in New Zealand and other countries. New Zealand being a highly developed economy, there is need for the country’s chief executive officers to incorporate these findings into their management strategies and decision making.
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Youndt, M & Snell, S 2004, ‘Human resource configurations, intellectual capital, and organizational performance’, Journal of Managerial Issues, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 337-360.