This a fast-growing field which provides a great opportunity for employment. HR consultants are hired by companies to solve personnel and organizational structure problems. The basic model of HR consulting is:
The research step is the key one. It can range from just hanging around, watching and talking to people, to administering questionnaires, going through old records, developing and testing theories, etc.
It is BC's aim to train students so that this avenue of work is open to them.
HR departments have always been the one charged with developing, administering and analyzing surveys of the employees, typically tracking attitudes, morale, preferences (e.g., type of retirement benefits), needs, etc. Without training in the techniques of research (such as sampling, questionnaire design, statistics), these surveys can be badly botched and give very misleading results.
More recently, HR departments have become much more central within the organizations. This is partly a function of the shift in the economy towards service and knowledge businesses, as well as a number of other factors including downsizing, employee empowerment, increased worker diversity, internationalization, etc. This means that the HR department not only has to administer simple questionnaires, it has to formulate research questions and develop research designs to help answer critical questions about how best to organize.
Organizational forms are changing so rapidly out there that organizations know longer know the best way to perform key functions, like compensation. For example, Analog Devices has recently restructured into teams. The question has arisen, how do you compensate people who do everything in teams? How do you assess their performance? The answers to these kinds of questions are being developed by researchers and published in technical journals. Today's HR professional has to learn how to read and evaluate the results of this research. To do that, he or she has to be well-versed in research methodology.
In addition, because organizations are increasingly distinctive and unique in the way they are structured, they encounter situations that other organizations have not encountered, and so HR departments are having to do their own basic research.
Whether you end up in a HR, some other field that explicitly requires research, or just any job that requires decision-making, you will find that scientific research methods are essential. The reason is that all decision-making is based on available data. If the data are collected poorly (i.e., not using good methodology), they will be useless at best and completely misleading at worst. Research methods is about how to do conduct inquiry.
The disciplined approach of scientific methodology is also excellent training for clear thinking. Hence, it is a valuable part of anyone's education.
|Revised: August 26, 1997||Go to Home Page|