There is a new edition of this book available Human Resource Management, 5e.


Managing Employees for Competitive Advantage

by Gowan, Lepak

ISBN: 978-1-948426-08-4 | Copyright 2020

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A Different Perspective on Human Resource Management

Talent acquisition, development, motivation, and retention affect the success of every type of organization—for profit, nonprofit, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations. Making sure that these efforts are managed well is one of the greatest challenges all managers face, regardless of their role in the organization. Baby boomers are retiring in record numbers, while organizations are growing. Available workers often do not have the right mix of skills and abilities for jobs that are available, leading  to labor shortages and requiring more expenditures for training and development. New technologies require larger investments in hiring and training at the same time that technology offers exciting possibilities for how to identify, secure, and manage top talent. Employing a multicultural workforce is critical to organizational success but calls on managers to develop and use new skill sets domestically and abroad. At the end of the day, in order to navigate the complexities of the 21st century workplace, every manager has to understand the importance of designing jobs that affect the organizational mission and goals, planning for the types and numbers of workers needed to do those jobs, managing employee competencies through selection and learning and development opportunities, and managing employee attitudes and behaviors through the reward structure and policies of the organization.

This book is written for anyone interested in understanding how to manage employees well in a dynamic and rapidly changing business environment. The paragraphs that follow describe some of the ways that the approach to human resource management (HRM) in this book differs from many other HRM textbooks available.

Major Themes of the Book

1 - Managing employees rather than managing the HR function: Since students often have difficulty separating the concept of employees as human resources from a discussion of the HR department, the authors use a framework throughout the book to show how managers must make daily decisions that affect firm performance.

2 - Managing employees in the context of the organization and their external environment

3 - Integrative Framework shows students how different practices are used independently and interdependently.

Chapter Design

Each chapter focuses on more HR activities than other HRM textbooks and builds on the idea that context matters. So, most chapters are presented in two parts. The first part describes the principles of the HR activity. The second part, Practice, emphasizes the importance of how context – the organizational demands and environmental factors – affect decision making.


This book will help current and future managers understand what practices and tools are available for managing employees, how to use them, and when to use them in different situations. Knowing that a picture is worth a thousand words, the work on this book began by developing an integrative framework for the strategic management of employees. This framework, which is woven throughout the chapters, shows the relationships among organizational demands, environmental influences, regulatory issues, and the three primary HR activities noted previously: work design and workforce planning, management of employee competencies, and management of employee attitudes and behaviors. These HR activities, when managed in concert and within the context of the HR challenges, lead to the desired employee contributions and create a competitive advantage for the organization.

Three Primary HR Activities

In essence, the strategic management of employees requires managers to attend to three primary HR activities. First, managers must design and manage the flow of work and the design of specific jobs that employees perform to ensure that employees are in a position to add value to the company. Second, managers must identify, acquire, build, and retain the critical competencies that employees need in order to effectively perform their jobs. Third, managers must guide and motivate employees to use their abilities to contribute to company goals. By describing the activities in this manner, students understand the interrelationships that exist among them.

All managers need a solid understanding of the practices available for managing employees. Managers can use a wide array of practices for job design, workforce planning, recruitment, selection, learning and development, performance evaluation and appraisal, and compensation and other rewards. To effectively manage employees, a manager has to know how and why the various practices work, as well as when to use them.

HR Challenges: The Importance of Context

Employee management activities do not happen in a vacuum. Rather, managers must keep in mind the context of the organization in terms of the company’s strategy, characteristics, and culture. In addition, managers must consider the concerns of their workforce. Beyond organizational demands, the strategic management of HR requires managers to anticipate and take steps to meet the environmental influences associated with labor force trends, advances in technology, ethics, and globalization, as well as to ensure that companies comply with legal requirements. Having a good understanding of the various options for recruiting new employees is not very useful if managers do not also have a good understanding of when the options are likely to be effective. Knowing when to use the different practices requires that you know the context of managing employees.

Chapter 1: Managing Employees for Competitive Advantage

Workforce planning, labor force trends, globalization, and regulatory issues are among the updated discussions with new examples and data. New Company Spotlights feature Costco Wholesale, Wegmans, Facebook, and Impahla Clothing.

Chapter 2: Organizational Demands and Environmental Influences

Updated coverage includes work/life balance, the aging workforce, demographic diversity, technology, globalization, and ethics and social responsibility with new examples and current data. New Company Spotlights feature Amazon, Michelin North America, and Apple Inc.

Chapter 3: Regulatory Issues

New company examples for discrimination and disparate impact are given; equal pay, racial, religious, and discrimination coverage is enhanced, and new Company Spotlights feature Texas Roadhouse, Stemilt rowers, Mission Hospital, and Wells Fargo.

Chapter 4: Job Design and Job Analysis

This chapter introduces new topics, such as job crafting, and updates the discussion of job analysis, job descriptions, job specification, current research on job design, formalization of jobs, breadth and depth of tasks, job design decisions for the aging labor force, telecommuting, virtual teams, ethics and job design, and physical conditions of job design. New Company Spotlights feature Lockheed Martin, Uber, and Unilever.

Chapter 5: Workforce Planning

A new exhibit covers contingent and alternative work arrangement percentages and numbers of workers, and the exhibit on employee versus independent contractor has been revised. Updated topics in this chapter include importance of workforce planning, internal factors, turnover, succession planning, transition matrix, employee productivity, external factors, economic conditions, outsourcing and contingent labor, employee retention, layoffs, early retirement, where the workers are, and which workforce planning tactics to use. A new Company Spotlight features REI.

Chapter 6: Recruitment

Among the topics updated for this chapter are advertising, career fairs, recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), gig workers, employer branding, labor force and recruitment, technology and recruitment. New Company Spotlights feature Staples, LinkedIn, and Cisco.

Chapter 7: Selection

Updated topics include applications and résumés, new key terms, reference checks, background checks, credit reports and honesty checks, methods of selection, labor market at home, and the labor market abroad. New Company Spotlights feature the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Automattic.

Chapter 8: Learning and Development

This chapter includes updated and new discussions of the following: onboarding, designing an effective training process, on-the-job training (OJT), training methods, tips to increase e-learning rates, compliance training, benchmarks for effective diversity training, behavioral training, the future of career development (a new section), work/life balance. New Company Spotlights feature L’Oréal, UPS, Pal’s Sudden Service, and Marriott International.

Chapter 9: Performance Management

Topics covered and updated include why performance management is so important, the purposes of performance management, performance measurement standards, specificity, individual comparisons, behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS), sources of performance data, trends in performance management, the performance evaluation method used, technology and performance management, and globalization. New Company Spotlights feature Deloitte, Patagonia, and MRA Systems.

Chapter 10: Compensating Employees

Topics updated in this chapter include total compensation, salary surveys, broad-banding, market pricing, internal value of jobs, employee concerns and compensation, the level of a firm’s compensation, pay rates, a living wage, minimum wage issues, and exempt versus nonexempt employees. There is also a new exhibit on aging salary survey data. New Company Spotlights feature Fairfield City Employees, Siemans AG, and Costco.

Chapter 11: Incentives and Rewards

Theories of motivation, individualized incentive plans, merit pay and bonus eligibility by band,  group/organizational incentives, executive compensation, technology and incentives, globalization, and incentive plans are among the topics revised and made current. New Company Spotlights feature Nike and WinCo Foods.

Chapter 12: Employee Benefits and Safety Programs

Improved coverage in this chapter includes health and wellness programs, health care plans, managed care, availability of benefits and safety programs, and globalization. New Company Spotlights feature Hasbro and Milliken & Company.

Chapter 13: Labor Unions and Employee Management

Union membership, right-to-work states, union-organizing process, decertification, new forms of worker organizations, global trends are among the updated discussions. New Company Spotlights feature Amazon and Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS) of San Antonio.

Chapter 14: Creating High-Performance HR Systems

Among the topics updated are strategic value, strategic performance drivers, HR practices, and HR deliverables. There is also a new table on contingent and alternative employment arrangements.

CourseBank is a pre-built course for Blackboard, Canvas, or any other LMS. It provides students with a seamless, single sign-on to your course. Their work is automatically graded. Grades synchronize with your grade book. And detailed analytics give you diagnostics for the class and individual student.
Each chapter of CourseBank contains...
  • Mini Lectures: Audio narrated and animated  PowerPoints cover the main concepts and topics from the chapter
  • Flash Cards: Allow students to drill the key terms and definitions from the chapter. An adaptive mode helps them focus only on the terms they have yet to master. 
  • Videos
  • PowerPoints
  • Chapter Quiz
  • Interactive Exercises
  • Test Bank so you can add or change quiz questions, create a new quiz, or create exams
Even if you don't make CourseBank an integral part of your course, students can still use it as a powerful tool for self-study.

Expand/Collapse All
Preface (pg. i)
Chapter 1 Managing Employees for Competitive Advantage (pg. 1)
Chapter 2 Organizational Demands and Environmental Influences (pg. 31)
Chapter 3 Regulatory Issues (pg. 67)
Chapter 4 Job Design and Job Analysis (pg. 109)
Chapter 5 Workforce Planning (pg. 157)
Chapter 6 Recruitment (pg. 195)
Chapter 7 Selection (pg. 241)
Chapter 8 Learning and Development (pg. 289)
Chapter 9 Performance Management (pg. 335)
Chapter 10 Compensating Employees (pg. 381)
Chapter 11 Incentives and Rewards (pg. 421)
Chapter 12 Employee Benefits and Safety Programs (pg. 457)
Chapter 13 Labor Unions and Employee Management (pg. 505)
Chapter 14 Creating High-Performing HR Systems (pg. 537)
Author Index (pg. 565)
Company Index (pg. 573)
Subject Index (pg. 576)

Mary Gowan

MARY GOWAN is dean of the Mike Cottrell College of Business and professor of management at the University of North Georgia.  She previously served as business dean at James Madison University and at Elon University, and Associate Dean at George Washington University. Her Ph.D. is in business administration from the University of Georgia. Her extensive teaching, research, and consulting experience focuses on human resource management and organizational behavior, and includes international teaching and research. She is currently on the boards of the Southern Business Association of Administrators, Beta Gamma Sigma, and the North Georgia Community Foundation.  Previously, she served as a board member of the Society for Human Resource Management Foundation, the Human Resource Division of the Academy of Management, and the Southern Management Association, along with a number of other nonprofit organizations. She has served on a number of journal editorial boards and published research focused on career transitions and related HR topics, and has been published in the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, and numerous other HR related journals.

David Lepak

DAVID LEPAK was the Berthiaume Endowed Chair of Business Leadership in the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He received his Ph.D. in business from the Pennsylvania State University. His research, teaching, and executive education outreach focused on strategic HRM with interests in mediators of the HR-performance relationship, international HRM, and managing contingent labor for competitive advantage. His research has appeared in outlets such as Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, Personnel Psychology, Human Resource Management Review, and Human Resource Management. He was editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Human Resource Management and was a former associate editor of Academy of Management Review and British Journal of Management. David also served as chair of the HR division of the Academy of Management. Sadly, Dave passed away in December 2017.

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