||This study investigates the degree of professionalization of human resource departments (HR departments) based on the contingency theory and institutional theory. Previous studies indicate that organizational structures are influenced by rational and institutional determinants. The requirement for increasing efficiency in organizations will drive the organizations to fit the rational determinants and demonstrate assorted structures. In contrast to the rational model, the motivation for acquiring legitimacy will drive organizations to conform to the institutional determinants and demonstrate similar structures under institutional pressure. Nevertheless, efficiency and legitimacy are not always contradictory. Organizations that share the same environment are believed to become structurally similar. By investigating the influence factors on the professionalization of HR departments, as well as how and why these influences work, this study can clarify the possible role of HR department in an organization. |
Extensive surveys and interviews have been conducted for this study. Specifically, one hundred and forty-four (144) questionnaires are collected from 517 Taiwanese public companies, representing a response rate of 27.85 %. Additionally, interviews are performed with qualified senior HR managers in selected companies. These interviews act to complement the surveys.
The results show that the degree of professionalization in HR departments is influenced by both contingency and institutional factors. Environmental uncertainty and cost-driven strategy are two important contingency determinants. There are two possible institutional determinants. One is the mechanism of imitation by industrial trait, and the other is the normative pressure from professional HR groups.
Furthermore, results demonstrate that the degree of professionalization of HR departments is higher in the electronic industry. This phenomenon may be due to the organization to deal with the high environmental varieties, to imitate successful organizations and to be influenced by professional HR groups. Since imitation is a strategy to face uncertainty, the higher degree of professionalization of HR department in this industry is not only a rational arrangement, but also helps the organization to acquire legitimacy.
These findings reveal that HR department plays the roles to help the organization to increase efficiency and also to serve the motivation for legitimacy. The possible rationales for variations in the degree of professionalization among HR departments are discussed in this study. Finally, it points out that the increased professionalization will become increasingly important for Taiwanese HR departments as international competitions grow in the future.