Managing Operations essay
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Essentially, managing operations entail the effective control and management of the activities as well as resources which are used to both produce goods and services in a business context. Managing operations as well take in the processes used to produce and distribute products and services. In this combination, such processes take in distribution, manufacturing, information systems and human resources among others as such. In this context, it is imperative to bring out the point that there will be an exploration of human resource management as an operation management practice used in the recent times by Wall-mart Company.
As such, application of human resource management as a managing operation will be brought into view. So to speak, the human resource management operation as it is applied by wall-mart will be explored and as such it will be re-formulated on the basis of the current trends and the context of operation. Following this point, there will be a conclusion revealing how the reformulation of human resource management will improve the management operation for its field of application or how the proposed new operation covers the lacks of existing type of human resource management.
Human Resource management for Wal-Mart as compared to the competitors in the case
There are various management operations that have been implemented by Wal-Mart in its management of human resources. In reference to Wal-Mart case study by Johnson (2006), the management of human resource in this retail store was based on years of analysis and implementation of the best practices ever, which was done by the top management led by its founder Sam Walton. As such, the human resource issues were core in the management practices that were carried out at this store. As compared to other retail stores such as The Home Depot, Inc, which was characterized by numerous incidences of employee abuse, cases of abuse of employees were rare at Wal-Mart stores, Wal-Mart was operating in a rather better way (Topix 2008).
In line with this, it is important to state that there are various practices that were associated with Wal-Mart in regard to human resources management. To begin with, research that has been carried out in the past which indicates that Wal-Mart employees were non-union members. In other words, this retail store did not allow its employees to join unions. This contributed to low operating costs. In reference to Johnson (2006), Wal-Mart's ability to enjoy low operating costs was due to the fact that it was non-union. Whereas this was the case, Wal-Mart faced numerous challenges. For instance, there was unchecked negative publicity that emanated from unions which threatened the operations of this retail store. On the contrary, some of the retail stores in the United States and across the globe had allowed their employees to be represented by the workers' unions. For instance, Tesco's employees were represented by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) (Steiner 2009).
Apart from this, Wal-Mart also engaged in a centralized form of human resource management. In line with this, the management of employees was done from a central point. Note that a centralized form of employee management was perceived to be more effective, cheap, and supported improved communication between different divisions (Johnson 2006). As a result of this, the management of employees was controlled from a single place, irrespective of the fact this store had branches in nearly 15 countries across the globe. So to articulate, human resource management for Wal-Mart Company was centralized and as such deemed effective.
Re-formulation of this management operation, based on the new trends and context
Following the point that Wal-Mart Company has been operating the human resources on a centralized manner, decentralizing the HR management would be essential. In this context, Wall-mart Company has been working under a centralized type of human resource management in the sense that all Wal-Mart's divisions, from the stores located in the U.S to the International Sam's Club, information and logistics systems divisions are located in Bentonville which is a town with a population of about 28, 000 people located in the Northwest Arkansas (Johnson 2006, p.8). Based on this type of centralization, it is important to bring out the point that human resource centralized management may not work in the current context under the prevailing trends. This is to suggest that there are many changes and current trends which have brought about changes that need to a corresponding change in the human resource management.
According to %u010Cesynien%u0117 (2005), business globalization has come along with high complexity which is a great challenge to the human resource management (p.50). As such, competitiveness, outsourcing, downsizing, diversified workforce and the management of ageing workforce has described the business world today (p.50-51). Human resource manager is given to the role of recruiting and staffing, compensation and benefits, health and safety in the workplace and in the larger perspective, the management of labor and relations. Based on this point, such roles need to be played in the context of globalizing businesses and in order to be effective; Wal-Mart needs to re-formulate its human resource management.
However, this has remained to be a great challenge since business globalization involves many different cultures as provided by different nations. More to this point, striking a balance between the human resource management and the national cultures influences has become so technical for a human resource manager. This is to suggest that human resource management in businesses that are operating globally face the challenge while recruiting and selecting, the process of compensation, career development and in the larger perspective performance appraisal (%u010Cesynien%u0117 2005, p.50). Different cultures have different values and as such, it is advisable for human resource management to consider this factor while operating.
So to speak, Wal-Mart has extended to other countries of the world and again its operations are global. This is to bring out the meaning that Wal-Mart operates globally with the headquarters in Bentonville. This shows that there is an aspect of centralization which is detrimental in the context of business globalization. There is therefore, the need to decentralize the human resource management so that the complexity brought about by influence of different cultures may be offset (Blyton &Turnbull 1992, p.32). In particular, decentralization has to do with the aspect of human resource management being given to the lower levels of management.
In specific terms, human resource management should not be concentrated in the headquarters but rather should be extended to the other Wal-Mart branches in other countries. Following this point, there is going to be increased levels of performance, efficiency, competitiveness and effectiveness since each country is to have its own human resource management (Blyton & Turnbull 1992). In respect to this point, there will be increased productivity and challenges while recruiting and selecting, carrying out compensation, career development and in the larger perspective performance appraisal will be minimized or rather be managed with efficacy.
Again in this context, it is important for Wal-Mart to re-formulate its human resource management practice to be practiced in various countries and at the same time remain accountable to the dominant organizational human resource management and its values (Blyton &Turnbull 1992, p.32). Such a formulation will strike a balance between the existing centralized human resource management and thus bring harmony between the centralized and decentralized human resource management (%u010Cesynien%u0117 2005, p.50-51. This will translate to employees accepting the dominant organizational values, while at the same time being encouraged to exploit and as such practice their various national cultural differences (%u010Cesynien%u0117 2005, p.50).
This as well supports the ongoing mode of doing business globally by encouraging businessmen to think globally and as such act locally. This reduces the cost of production thus enhancing productivity from the larger point of view. Another thing to note is that globalization requires that different standards of work, compensation, working hours, employment systems among others such like aspects to be addressed for different cultures (Blyton & Turnbull 1992, p.32). Finally in this context, Wal-Mart human resource management should consider re-formulating its human resource management by decentralizing it. This is by ensuring that in each country where it operates, there is a human resource management which is operated under the dominating human resource values as it is dictated from the global headquarters in Bentonville (%u010Cesynien%u0117 2005, p.50). Employees and operations in various nations with different cultures, should be encouraged to act locally while exploiting their different cultures but think globally as per the dominating values and culture of Wal-Mart.
One may question how the reformulation improves the management operation, but as it has been highlighted, the reformation will improve the performance of the management. As such, human resource management will be able to act more efficiently, effectively and since there is a close monitoring of the business operations by the human resource management in the particular nation; then, the levels of accountability will increase and as such make the whole management easier than when it was centralized. Apart from this point, decentralization of human resource management will overcome the barriers of culture which have been cited since different cultures have different values. It will be easier to recruit employees from the particular nation, carry out a performance appraisal and as such embrace the working under different systems of work along with the fact that in some cases; there will be unionized employees contrary to the case in Wal-Mart.