Research Proposal by sg6xhMX


            HRP002C – Researching Employment and Human Resource Management
                                                           Research Proposal

Researching Employment and Human Resource



            Research Proposal

        Student Number: 06053030

                   HRP002C – Researching Employment and Human Resource Management
                                                                  Research Proposal


Section                                                                  Page
                            Section Heading
Number                                                                 Number

  1.0                         Research Title

  2.0                Research Topic and Questions

  3.0                    Rationale for Research

  4.0                Research Aims and Objectives

  5.0                       Literature Review

  5.1     Definitions of Reward Management and its Importance

  5.2                History of Reward Management

  5.3       Psychological Contract and Reward Management

  5.4          What Makes a Successful Reward Strategy

  5.5                 Changing Reward Landscape

  5.6              Key Challenges in the Reward Field

  5.7              Current Trends in the Reward Field

  6.0                      Research Philosophy

  7.0                      Research Approach

  8.0                       Research Strategy

  9.0                        Data Collection

 10.0                         Data Analysis

 11.0                       Data Presentation

 12.0              Consent and Ethical Considerations

 13.0                      Potential Limitations

 14.0                           References

                             HRP002C – Researching Employment and Human Resource Management
                                                                            Research Proposal

1.0       The research title

The author will complete a research dissertation with the following title:

“An evaluation of the effectiveness of the reward strategy of Text 100 Public

Relations, a pan European and African SME”

2.0       The research topic and questions

The research topic concerns reward management. The author will not look solely at

the traditional parts of reward as highlighted by the CIPD (2007a) of pay, benefits

and perks, but also reward strategy, reward trends and challenges as well a

concepts such as total reward.

Within the study, the author will answer the following research questions:

      o   How has the reward strategy within Text 100 developed since the foundation

          of Text 100?

      o   Is the reward strategy within Text 100 considered a critical area of business?

      o   What does the reward strategy within Text 100 look like?

      o   Does this reward strategy align with the current business strategy of Text


      o   Is the reward strategy recognised and valued by employees?

      o   Is there fragmentation of the reward strategy within Text 100? How does

          this fragmentation of strategy manifest itself?

      o   What are the implications to the business of Text 100’s reward strategy?

      o   How can the reward strategy be developed further so that it is of most

          benefit to the organisation?

                             HRP002C – Researching Employment and Human Resource Management
                                                                            Research Proposal

3.0       The rationale for the research

The author currently works within the human resources department of Text 100.

The HR team of 3 support 200 employees across 11 offices in Europe and Southern

Africa. Text 100 is the largest company within the Next Fifteen Communications

Group which has four other autonomous brands. Text 100 is a global Public

Relations company with 30 offices world wide and is split into three distinct

business units based on their geographical location; EMEA, APAC and North


At the time of writing the author has been with Text 100 for nineteen months and

since joining believes that in certain aspects the current reward strategy is

ineffective. In some respects in has enabled Text 100 to attract, retain and develop

employees within a scarce labour market. However, in other respects there have

been signals that the reward strategy is failing, such as from feedback received

through exit interviews.

4.0       The research aim and objectives

The overall aim of this study is to explore the effectiveness of the current reward

strategy within the pan European and African business with a view to making

recommendations on how its effectiveness can be improved.

In order to address this aim the author must fulfil the following objectives:

      o   To examine the benefits to both the employer and employee of having an

          effective reward strategy.

      o   To examine the current components of the reward strategy within the case

          study organisation.

                             HRP002C – Researching Employment and Human Resource Management
                                                                            Research Proposal

      o   To examine the best practice components that make up a reward strategy

          and how these can be applied to the case study organisation.

      o   To critically examine whether the reward strategy within the case study

          organisation follows good practice.

      o   To examine how the current reward strategy is perceived within the

          organisation at all levels; from senior management through to more junior


      o   As a result of the research, to make recommendations to the case study

          organisation as to how their reward strategy can be developed further to be

          more effective.

5.0       Literature Review

The author will now briefly look at the existing literature and themes on the topic of


5.1       Definitions of Reward Management and its importance

Reward management is about the development, implementation, maintenance,

communication and evaluation of reward processes. It is also concerned with the

development of appropriate organisational cultures, underpinning core values and

increasing the motivation and commitment of employees (Armstrong and Murlis,

1998, pp.1) Other academics define it as a mechanism by which employers aim to

elicit effort and performance with the characteristic that the actual payment system

may require adjustment to develop motivation and thirdly, it is often a significant

part of the employer’s financial strategy (Hendry, 1994, pp. 343 cited in

Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005 pp. 321).

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                                                                        Research Proposal

5.2    History of Reward Management

First let us look back at the history of the topic of reward and how it has evolved

over time. In the early part of the 20th Century with the introduction of mass

production as a control mechanism, such as with Henry Ford introducing the

moving assembly line in 1913 (Beniger, 1986 pp. 315), many workers were

controlled by machinery. As such the reward systems within an organisation

reflected this. Workers could be controlled through the production line and as such

the piece rate system of reward was introduced for manual workers. As noted by

Beniger (1986) the moving assembly line was an early embodiment of the Control

Revolution and a best known symbol of early mass production. At the turn of the

20th Century other business people such as Taylor had begun their studies on

creating a more rationalised control of industrial production. Taylor viewed

employees as rational and economic and as such had to be motivated by

management through their pay system. As such, it was important that the jobs that

these people did were able to provide the opportunity of these people maximising

their earnings (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005, pp. 322). Zingheim and Schuster

(2005) highlight that between 1921 and 1971 there were reward solutions that

fitted with the evolving economic, social and business challenges of the time.

During this period Zingheim and Schuster (2005) state that three major reward

solutions gained prominence; these being gain sharing, merit pay and point factor

job evaluation. There is, however, no easy or automatic correlation between forms

of production and payment systems but some broad trends are evident. In addition,

a discussion of reward management in practice must necessarily be located in the

context of wider economic and social change (White and Drucker, 2000, pp. 4).

Herzberg’s two factor theory of motivation can also explain theories of reward

management. This theory consisted of the presence of hygiene factors and

motivators. Hygiene factors do not improve employee motivation, they merely

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                                                                            Research Proposal

prevent dissatisfaction and they include such factors as salary, job satisfaction,

interpersonal    relations   and        working    conditions   (Mullins,   2005).     However,

motivators, as their name suggests increase employee motivation and include

recognition,    responsibility,    the    nature    of   work   and     personal    growth   and

advancement (Mullins, 2005). Although there has been some criticism of Herzberg’s

theory as no longer being relevant in today’s business world (Mullins, 2005 pp.

487), there is a clear link to this theory with more modern theories of reward

management such as total reward management. Total reward management brings

together factors that Herzberg has identified as hygiene factors and motivators. In

recent time total reward has become more prominent, and as defined by the CIPD

(2007b) is the term that has been adopted to describe a reward strategy that

brings additional components such as learning and development, together with

aspects of the working environment, into the benefits package.

5.3    The Psychological Contract and Reward Management

As defined by the CIPD (2007f) the psychological contract concerns the perceptions

of the two parties, employee and employer, of what their mutual obligations are

towards each other' and as defined by Schein (as cited in Armstrong and Murlis,

1998) that there is an unwritten set of expectations operating at all times between

every member of an organisation and the various manager and others in that

organisation.    Armstrong        and    Murlis    (1998)   highlight     the   importance     of

understanding the psychological contract in reward management as it is concerned

with defining and meeting expectations concerning pay, performance and the

development and application of competence and skill. Over time the nature of the

psychological    contract    has    changed.       Previously   there    was    a   transactional

psychological contract whereby an employer bought the loyalty of an employee in

return for progression up an organisational hierarchy.

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                                                                         Research Proposal

However, the economic restructuring and the increased global competition of the

1990s meant that the nature of the psychological contract changed. No longer

could organisations offer a ‘job for life’ and as such the psychological contract

shifted to that of a transactional nature. Employees demanded employability from

their employers and there was a greater notion of continuing professional

development   and   individual   career   management.      These   trends    have   been

summarised by Hiltrop (1995, as cited in Armstrong and Murlis, 1998) who

suggests that a new psychological contract is emerging, one that is more situational

and short term and which assumes that each party is less dependant on the other

for survival and growth. The changes to the psychological contract naturally have

implications for reward management including, paying people on their contribution

to the organisation, reward people to their developing competence and skills,

communicate to employees the reasons for reward innovations and how they will be

affected by them, involve employees in the development of new reward processed

and structures and provide training to all on the operation and implications of

reward policies and practices (Armstrong and Murlis, 1998, pp. 26-7).

5.4    What makes a successful reward strategy?

A reward strategy, as defined by Hurwich, 1986 (cited in Brown, 2001, pp.3) is the

incorporation of business issues into decisions on compensation. Brown (2001),

however, points out that definitions of reward strategy typically encompass two

other important aspects, firstly the needs for horizontal fit between all of the pay

and reward policies with each other and with the other HR policies and secondly,

the need for a forward looking change orientation, so that in rapidly changing

environments an organisation’s reward policies deliver what is required for success

in the future. Lawler, was one of the first experts to promote the concept of reward

strategy describing it as ‘an integrated reward approach, linking company strategy,

                          HRP002C – Researching Employment and Human Resource Management
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pay systems and employee behaviours.’ This is show by the diagram below as cited

in Brown (2001, pp.2).

5.5    Changing Reward Landscape

In the past 20 years the landscape in which organisations operate in have

undergone major transformation; including increased competition, reducing costs,

becoming more competitive and a widespread emphasis on quality improvements

and attentiveness to added value (Chen et al 2006). As such these factors have had

a major impact on the reward systems and strategies that are implemented by

organisations. No longer can employees be rewarded through piece rate systems.

In many organisations an organisation’s competitive advantage is not gained

through the quality of their goods but rather the discretionary behaviour exhibited

by their employees. With the need to have a highly motivated work force, Mullins

(2005) creates a classification as a starting point to reviewing motivation at work.

He splits this down into economic rewards, intrinsic satisfaction which is derived

from the nature of the work itself and finally social relationships, which is a

relational orientation to work and concerned with ‘other people’ (pp. 473). The

CIPD (2007b) also recognises in its approach that pay is not the only motivator and

highlights that by acknowledging the importance of not only tangible but also

                          HRP002C – Researching Employment and Human Resource Management
                                                                         Research Proposal

intangible rewards within the wider context of the work experience, total reward

has wide reaching implications for both employees and employers.

5.6    Key Challenges in the Reward Field

Armstrong and Brown (2005) identify three major challenges; firstly, implementing

a reward strategy and change, secondly the role of line managers and finally,

aligning reward and business strategies. The CIPD (2007) also highlights the

importance of the role of line managers in reward management. Traditionally, line

manager involvement in reward has been limited to influence over performance

related pay, however, the CIPD have split the meaning of reward into a larger

context – financial and non financial rewards, and has looked at the role of line

managers here. Bevan (2003) highlights three areas in which organisations must

ensure are got right in order for an organisation’s use of reward is suitable. Firstly,

there is a need to keep a strategic focus, secondly, pay systems should not be

overly complicated, thirdly the design of pay systems should involve line managers,

there should be faith in the system i.e. that the system is transparent and finally

rewards should be provided that employees actually value. Thorpe and Homan

(2000) also discuss other debates that are taking place in the field of reward

management. They refer to the debates of best practice vs. best fit, the rise of

performance related pay and differing definitions of equity.

5.7    Current Trends in the Reward Field

More and more companies are moving towards a total reward system which

includes both financial and non financial rewards to employees. Research by Chen

et al (2006) as well as the CIPD (2007c) more and more companies see total

reward as part of their company mission. Latest research by the CIPD (2007c)

indicates that not only do reward systems include both financial and non financial

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                                                                         Research Proposal

components but that also there is a greater shift of businesses aligning their reward

strategy with that of their business strategy. This shift is further support by

research by Armstrong and Brown (2005) who identify that the alignment of reward

and business strategies is a key challenge that businesses are now facing. They cite

the example of Lloyds TSB whose reward strategy ties back to their three corporate

aims. As previously highlighted there has been a growth in total reward practices

and linked to this is the concept of employee engagement.

6.0    Research philosophy

There are two main research philosophies, each dictating the research methods

that are most appropriate. The first is the phenomological paradigm and the second

is positivism (Easterby-Smith et al, 2001). Central to the philosophy of positivism is

the idea that the social world exists externally and that its properties should be

measured through objective methods rather than being inferred subjectively

(Easterby-Smith, 2001, pp. 22). On the other hand the phenomological research

philosophy is a method that recognises the actions, events and artefacts from

within human life not as the observation of some external reality (Hughes, 1990,

pp. 90). Hughes (1990) further states that the socio-historical world is a symbolic

world created by the human mind and cannot be understood as simply a

relationship of material things (pp.90). The research philosophy that the author will

follow is one of a phenomological paradigm. The author has decided that this

approach is best because the nature of the research topic, reward, can be highly

subjective to some people and if it was measured based on objective means then

the research data gained may not be as rich. In much of the research literature the

point of one reward solution not being applicable to all is important, and this too is

important when deciding on the research philosophy. The way in which people react

to the organisation’s reward strategy is key here; hence a positivist research

strategy would be inappropriate.

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                                                                          Research Proposal

7.0    Research approach

The approach of this research will be inductive. This approach involves the

formulation of theory following on from data collection and analysis. As highlighted

by Saunders et al (2007) research using an induction approach is likely to be

concerned with the context in which such events are taking place. The other

research approach is that of deduction, where a hypothesis is formulated and

tested. This approach is better suited to research in the natural sciences and is

there to explain the relationships between different variables. Creswell (1994 as

cited in Saunders et al, 2007) suggests a number of practical criteria on whether

research should take an inductive approach or a deductive approach. The author of

this report believes that by using these criteria an inductive approach is more fitting

with the research topic.

8.0    Research strategy

As highlighted by Saunders et al (2007) the choice of a research strategy will be

guided by the research questions and objectives (which have been highlighted

above), the extent of existing knowledge, the amount of time available as well as

the philosophical underpinnings. Bryman and Bell (2003) outline various research

strategies and using this typology the author will follow a case study approach.

9.0    Data collection

The author will collect primary data through interviews within the case study

organisations. As the author is concerned with individual’s views, quantitative data

collection methods would not allow this to happen. Authors such as Bryman and

Bell (2003) raise the issue of reliability and validity when using qualitative research

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                                                                             Research Proposal

methods. With these points in mind the author will follow the points below when

conducting these interviews:

     o   The interviews will be semi structured. This approach has been chosen

         rather than a structured or unstructured interviews so that certain themes

         are covered in all interviews but also so that there is the ability to probe

         further off the back of the interviewees answers.

     o   The interviews will be conducted one on one and face to face where

         possible. Because the focus of this research is in a pan European and African

         SME, there will be certain research subjects that are outside of the UK and

         for logistical reasons it will not be possible to conduct these interviews face

         to   face.   In   these   circumstances,    the   interviews   will   be   conducted


     o   In both situations, whether the interviews are conducted telephonically or

         face to face the interviews will be recorded and transcribed. This will assist

         with the data analysis at a later date.

     o   There will be triangulation of sources when selecting those that should be

         interviewed. This will include employees, line managers, members of the

         Human Resources team as well as Senior Management within the company.

Secondary data will also be collected and this will include academic theory and

models as well as current studies and trends on the subject of reward. This will also

support the primary research collected from the interviews. The secondary data will

be   collected    from     various   sources   including    books,   periodicals,    journals,

professional magazines and bodies including the Chartered Institute of Personnel

and Development and also the Internet. In addition, internal company documents

will be used including the company’s newly launched three year strategy and

reward information, which will help to provide context to the research topic.

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                          HRP002C – Researching Employment and Human Resource Management
                                                                         Research Proposal

10.0   Data analysis

The semi structured interviews will be transcribed in full and then analysed using a

process of thematic codification. Saunders et al (2007) highlights the need to

respect confidentiality and this will be done by the creation of separate files for

each interviewee. There are a number of different approaches that one can take

when analysing the qualitative data and Tesch (1990 as cited in Saunders et al,

2007) groups these strategies into four main categories:

   o   Understanding the characteristics of language

   o   Discovering regularities

   o   Comprehending the meaning of text or action

   o   Reflection

The author will use these four different ways to look at analysing the qualitative

data from the studies.

11.0   Data presentation

While the interviews will be fully transcribed, these will not be included in the main

dissertation. As the data will be thematically codified, any relevant data from this

will be included in short sections within the research project. Quotations from both

primary and secondary sources will be used to support assertions made by the

author as well as bringing relevance to research points.

12.0   Consent and ethical considerations

Saunders et al (2007, pp.178) define research ethics as ‘questions about how we

formulate and clarify our research topic, design our research and gain access,

collect data, process and store our data, analyse data and write up our research

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                          HRP002C – Researching Employment and Human Resource Management
                                                                         Research Proposal

findings in a moral and responsible way’. In order to fulfil this definition the author

will ensure that the following points are addressed:

   o   Research subjects will be made aware that their participation is entirely

       voluntary and that they can choose at any time to opt out of the research

       study without a reason.

   o   The research subjects will be made aware in advance that the face to face /

       telephonic structured interviews will be tape recorded, however, if they wish

       for the interview not to be tape recorded then they can choose not to be


   o   The comments of the research subjects will be made anonymous in the final

       dissertation and that any coding used to distinguish between research

       participants will not enable people to uncover their identity.

   o   The interviews will be conducted at mutually agreeable times so that the

       research subject does not feel as though they have been caught unaware.

   o   No financial incentives will be made to the research subjects.

13.0   Potential limitations and ways to overcome these

The author will now look at potential barriers that could be encountered when

conducting the research project. Saunders et al (2007) identifies a number of

barriers that will need to be addressed including:

   o   Gaining access

   o   Organisational concerns

   o   Research ethics

   o   Time

   o   Costs

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                           HRP002C – Researching Employment and Human Resource Management
                                                                          Research Proposal

Certain aspects identified above should not be as problematic as others. As the

author is currently employed within the case study organisation accessing data

should not be as problematic as using an organisation which is unknown. However,

as the majority of the research will be generated through one on one interviews,

the author believes the most serious of pitfalls is non participation of interviewees.

However, as Jankowicz (2000, pp.138) highlights, ‘a research project will demand

that one’s role is clearly defined’. The author believes that if this point is addressed

i.e. that the author’s role is clarified as not there to uncover information for the

organisation, then interviewee non participation will be minimised. Figure two

shows how the other barriers will be addressed.

Figure 2: Potential Limitations and Solutions for Overcoming Them

Potential barrier                             Solutions to overcome the barrier

   o   Gaining   access    –   particularly       o   Take time to build a rapport with

       overcoming      interviewee     non            interviewees,       or   to     develop

       participation                                  further the existing rapport.

                                                  o   Clearly state research aims and


                                                  o   Arrange interviews at mutually

                                                      convenient times.

                                                  o   Give the subject the option of not

                                                      having     the      interview      tape

                                                      recorded if preferred.

                                                  o   Ensure interviewee is aware of

                                                      ethical         considerations       as

                                                      highlighted in section 12.

                                                  o   Give      the      interviewee      the

                                                      opportunity to review the final


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                      HRP002C – Researching Employment and Human Resource Management
                                                                     Research Proposal

o   Organisational concerns                  o   Discuss potentially controversial

                                                 findings    with       line    manager         if

                                                 appropriate              while              also

                                                 maintaining                     interviewee


                                             o   If not appropriate to speak with

                                                 line     manager              speak         with

                                                 dissertation supervisor.

o   Research ethics                          o   As     ethics     is    a     theme         that

                                                 encompasses all aspects linked

                                                 with a research project, this area

                                                 has been looked at in greater

                                                 detail in section 12 above.

o   Time                                     o   Create     a      research          timetable

                                                 which      will        include          realistic


                                             o   Create     and         use     a        support

                                                 network from friends and family,

                                                 colleagues        as    well       as     fellow

                                                 members of the LSG

o   Costs                                    o   Other      than         the      (potential)

                                                 reimbursement            of     interviewee

                                                 travel     expenses           the        author

                                                 believes that there are no other

                                                 major costs that need to be

                                                 taken into account.

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14.0     References

Armstrong M and Brown D, (2005), Reward Strategies and Trends in the United

Kingdom: The Land of Diverse and Pragmatic Dreams, Compensation and Benefits

Review, Volume 37(4), July/August pp. 41-53

Armstrong M and Murlis H, (1998), Reward Management: A Handbook of

Remuneration Strategy and Practice, Kogan Page, London

Bryman A and Bell E, (2003), Business Research Methods, Oxford University Press,


Chen H and Hsieh Y, (2006), Key Trends of the Total Reward System in the 21 st

Century, Compensation and Benefits Review, Volume 38(6), November/December


Beniger J, (1986), The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of

the Information Society, Harvard University Press, London

Bevan S, (2003), Smart Incentives, The Work Foundation, London

Brown D, (2001), Reward Strategies: From Intent to Impact, CIPD, London

CIPD, (2007a), Pay and Reward: An Overview, CIPD, London

CIPD, (2007b), Total Reward, CIPD, London

CIPD, (2007c), Reward Management: Annual Survey Report 2007, CIPD, London

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                          HRP002C – Researching Employment and Human Resource Management
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CIPD, (2007d), Reward: Summary of the CIPD Research into Practice Event, CIPD,


CIPD, (2007e), Rewarding Work: The Vital Role of Line Managers, CIPD, London

CIPD, (2007f), The Psychological Contract, CIPD, London

Cotton C and Worman D, (2006), Reward and Diversity: A good practice guide to

recognising diversity through reward, CIPD, London

Easterby-Smith M, Thorpe R and Lowe A, (2001), Management Research: An

Introduction, Sage Publications, London

Hadaway L, (2005), Sweet or Sour?, Employee Benefits, October, pp. 42-49

Hughes J, (1990), The Philosophy of Social Research: 2nd Edition, Longman, London

Jankowicz A, (2000), Business Research Projects, Business Press, London

Marchington M and Wilkinson A, (2005), Human Resource Management at Work:

People Management and Development 3rd Edition, CIPD, London

Mullins L, (2005), Management and Organisational Behaviour 7th Edition, Prentice

Hall, London

Saunders M, Lewis P and Thornhill A, (2007), Research Methods for Business

Students 4th Edition, Prentice Hall, London

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                            HRP002C – Researching Employment and Human Resource Management
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Text 100 Public Relations, (2007a), Leading the Industry’s Transformation: a

Strategic Roadmap for 2010, Text 100 Public Relations, New York

Text 100 Public Relations, (2007b), Global Three Year Strategy Launch Q&A, Text

100 Public Relations, New York

Thorpe R and Homan G, (2000), Strategic Reward Systems, Prentice Hall, London

White G and Drucker J, (2000), Reward Management: A Critical Text, Cardiff

University Press, Cardiff

Zingheim P and Schuster J, (2005), The Next Decade for Pay and Rewards,

Compensation and Benefits Review, Volume 37(1), January/February pp.26-32

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