Ph.D. program in Management: Impact of Pandemics on Human Resource Policies and Procedures
DESCRIPTION OF THE INTENDED DOCTORAL PROJECT
The novel COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted organizational operations all over the world. Human resources managers have been forced to think differently regarding their role amid various grand challenges such as social distancing practices, employees working remotely, job losses, and travel restrictions. As strategic assets in any organization, employees have to be managed and preserved, especially during pandemics, when they can easily be dissatisfied.
Brief Description of the Intended Research
Pandemics such as the COVID-19 have serious negative impacts on economic activities. These effects range from avoidance reactions where people forgo purchasing and consumption of certain services due to social distancing practices, cascading effect such as services disruptions, and directs costs such as hospitalizations and medical costs, and loss of labor and production. Therefore, Adopting and implementing economic models that take a holistic approach to achieving sustainable goal is becoming a crucial objective for HR professionals and business leaders.
Due to extreme economic challenges emanating from abrupt job losses, reduced revenues, and mounting pressure on debts, lots of employees globally are getting demoralized. Consequently, it becomes critical for human resource professionals to design and implement HR policies and procedures that protect employees from the shocks of pandemics, such as the coronavirus (Li, Ghosh, and Nachmias 329). In this regard, therefore, I would like to pursue a Ph.D. program in Management at Wien Universität with a dissertation topic focusing on the Impact of Pandemics on Human Resource Policies and Procedures
The primary objective of the intended research project is to evaluate the effect of pandemics, such as the COVID-19, on human resource management practices and the policies that can be implemented to cushion employees and organizations from economic shocks. The research will have a key focus on multinational organizations in Saudi Arabia. The choice for this target study population is informed by the fact that in Saudi Arabia, most multinational companies are culturally diverse, with employees coming from different parts of the world. At times when travel restrictions are in place, and people are forced to stay away from their families for extended periods, it is critical to implement policies and procedures that guide strategic human resource practices (SHRM) (Aitken-Fox et al.). However, the results and recommendations of the study will be applicable to most organizations globally. Some key research questions that will guide the study are as below;
Q1: How do pandemics, such as COVID-19, affect organizations and employees in general, and particularly the international organizations in Austria?
Q2: What is the role of human resource managers in cushioning employees from the adverse impacts of pandemics, now and in the future?
Q3: What are some of the policies implemented by organizations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, both in Austria and globally?
Q4: How can human resource managers become better prepared to handle such pandemics in the future?
The Current State of Research
The current literature on pandemics and human resource management is quite limited partly because the world has not faced a serious pandemic in the recent past. However, some researchers have quickly tried to study different aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak concerning management, particularly human resource management. Elsafty and Ragheb evaluate the role of HRM towards employee retention during the coronavirus pandemic in the medical supplies sector in Egypt (51). This quantitative descriptive study used a non-probability sampling to evaluate the strategies
adopted by HR departments to address key employee issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gigauri evaluates the magnitude and level of the challenges that companies are facing concerning human resource management and the changes that organizations expect to be initiated (16). Similarly, Carnevale and Hatak explore employee well-being and adjustment in the times of COVID-19 pandemic and its implication to HRM (4). While all these studies attempt to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic from an HR perspective, there is still a gap regarding the policies and procedures that strategic human resource managers can implement now and in the future.
The intended research project contributes to the existing literature and the HR profession by presenting remarkable insights regarding policies and procedures that organizations and managers can apply to improve employee welfare and productivity amid pandemics. Specifically, the study results will guide organizations in Austria on how to be better prepared to handle global disruptions that may significantly affect employees. It is also intended that the proposed research will form a basis for further research on the issue of strategic HR policy implementation in Austria.
Preliminary Considerations on Theory and Methodological Approach
The proposed doctorial project is informed by two major management theories: person- environment (P-E) fit theory and Protection motivation theory (PMT). The P-E fit theory studies the extent to which the employees match some aspects of the work environment (Carnevale and Hatak 4). On the other hand, the PMT theory focuses on fear appeals and how people, in this case, employees, respond to threatening events, such as pandemics. The proposed research project shall utilize a quantitative descriptive research design in which the variables related to pandemics are evaluated. Primary data will be collected through questionnaires and interviews. Participants in the study will be selected through non-probability, guided sampling methods where the focus will
be to obtain responses from human resource professionals in different organizations in Austria. Secondary data is obtained through a meta-analysis of previous studies. It is expected that the research will be completed within the specified time frame after the approval of the research proposal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a set of new challenges to human resource professionals around the world. The need to work away from offices, social distancing practices, and travel restrictions is forcing HR managers to implement new policies and procedures that can cushion employees and organizations, both now and in the future, from adverse effects of pandemics. The intended research project seeks to evaluate the impact of pandemics on human resource policies and procedures. Two major management theories will inform the project: person-environment (P-
- E) fit theory and Protection motivation theory (PMT)
Aitken-Fox, Eileen, et al. “The Impact of COVID-19 On Human Resource Management: Avoiding Generalisations.” LSE Business Review (2020). https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2020/05/22/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-human- resource-management-avoiding-generalisations/
Carnevale, Joel B., and Isabella Hatak. “Employee Adjustment and Well-Being in the Era of COVID-19: Implications for Human Resource Management.” Journal of Business Research (2020). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341557520_Employee_Adjustment_and_Well- Being_in_the_Era_of_COVID-19_Implications_for_Human_Resource_Management
Elsafty, Ashraf Saeed, and Mohammad Ragheb. “The Role of Human Resource Management Towards Employees Retention During Covid-19 Pandemic in Medical Supplies Sector-Egypt.” Business and Management Studies 6.2 (2020): 5059-5059. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342556132_The_Role_of_Human_Resource_ Management_Towards_Employees_Retention_During_Covid- 19_Pandemic_in_Medical_Supplies_Sector_-_Egypt
Gigauri, Iza. ” Effects of Covid-19 on Human Resource Management from the Perspective of Digitalization and Work-Life-Balance.” International Journal of Innovative Technologies in Economy 4 (31) (2020). https://researchleap.com/influence-covid-19- crisis-human-resource-management-companies-response-expert-study/
Li, Jessica, Rajashi Ghosh, and Stefanos Nachmias. “A Special Issue on the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Work, Worker, and Workplace!? Implications for HRD Research and Practices in Time of Crisis.” (2020): 329-332. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13678868.2020.1780715
Armstrong, Mark (2020). ‘Coronavirus crisis sparks race for inventive solutions’, Euronews, 2st March 2020, Accessible at: www.euronews.com/2020/03/21/coronavirus-crisis-sparks- race-for-inventive-solutions, Accessed 19th April 2020
Donthu, Naveen and Gustafsson, Anders (2020) COVID-19 IMPACT ON BUSINESS AND RESEARCH, Journal of Business Research, Accessible at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.06.008