Human Resource Devolution and Evolution

Executive Summary

Devolution in human resources has become more popular as a vital component of organizational practices and culture in many companies. Companies are increasingly embracing the concept of delegating work responsibilities and duties to subordinates to ensure they achieve positive results in the end. The changing external business environment has caused firms to adopt new strategies through which they can maintain a competitive edge within the markets in which they operate. Human resource practices have become centered on the results employees can achieve within their workstations by being given an opportunity to make crucial decisions in regard to the duties assigned to them. Devolution enhances the capabilities of workers who feel that the management has confidence in their ability to deliver. This makes the operations of a firm more efficient because workers with the necessary expertise are given the space and opportunity to utilize their skills in an effective way.


HR devolution is a tool which if implemented, can help an organization to conduct its HR operations efficiently. This practice makes it possible for an organization to encourage openness between workers and their seniors to ensure that positive results are achieved during both the working process and the working environment. Collaboration between workers, middle managers, and senior administrators is a new and emerging trend that helps to harness the individual competencies of all the employees. HR devolution has made the organizational culture evolve because of the commitment workers have to give to their respective duties. The relationship that is sustained between the employees and their superiors while carrying out their duties improves their participation in the firm’s activities. The networks and relationships that are created by the human resource of a firm go beyond the formal internal structures that exist in the company. These relationships are vital and crucial in helping a firm to keep track of its objectives and goals.

Impact of HR Devolution on HR Evolution

HR devolution has an impact on organizational behavior and culture; in particular, it ensures that the interactions that employees have with their superiors are constructive. This helps the superiors to better understand the actions employees take while performing their duties within their work stations.1 The focus of the HR initiative moves from a superior directed process to a procedure that is typified by a greater collaboration by all the employees of the organization. This creates room for the HR practices that are flexible enough to respond to the strategic interests of the company; the strategic interests of the organization are crucial for its existence and are important in measuring its performance.

Therefore, HR devolution also results in organizational flexibility, which can help the HR department to carry out plans that are in tandem with the company’s strategies. An organization can be able to respond to the changes within the industry or environment within which it operates and keeps track of its objectives and goals. The HR function of selecting personnel can help in identifying individuals who share the same spirit and strategy with the company to ensure constant rejuvenation of ideas in some particular firm.2 The HR function has to evolve to ensure that the roles and responsibilities of various departments are in line with the established targets and benchmarks for performance. This helps the firm to create good and valuable relationships that can be able to give the organization the drive to deal with changing situations and other challenges.

The HR function in modern times must be proficient in coming up with different approaches through which tasks can be organized. This may have a direct impact on the way the organization is structured to ensure that it is responsive to the needs and the skills profile of the employees. HR systems need to have effective recruitment, selection, and reward procedures that take note of the contributions that can be obtained from the employees of the company.3 The contributions of the employees have an impact on the direction the HR policies take within the company, and this depends on the situation it finds itself in. A good HR culture should accommodate the views of employees and appreciate the contribution they make to realize the organization’s goals.

The HR function can be able to fit the skills of each and every individual employee to a duty or working environment that helps the organization to get the best out of him or her. This can help in turn to realign the knowledge gaps that exist between horizontal and vertical structures within the organization. HR systems can be linked with other revolutionary practices that cut across the various levels of authorities that exist to ensure that high performance levels are sustained.4 This approach helps in coming up with a positive output which brings about the desired change in this or that firm. The management is able to bring positive directions and results through implementation of policies that are responsive to the changes that come up in the company.

The devolution approaches that are adopted must be able to bring greater efficiency in the way operations are carried out. This ensures that the changes that are initiated do not impact negatively the ability of the organization to discharge its duties smoothly. The HR practices can only be effective if they are focused toward the unique attributes of the departments and locations within which individual employees operate.5 Work systems need to be responsive to the nature of duties that employees in the different departments in an organization are expected to perform. The HR management within a firm should come up with effective structures within which workers’ talents and skills can be nurtured and developed.

Having effective structures in the organization encourages multi-level relationships between employees. The way a firm positions itself within the industry in which it operates should be in line with the staffing approaches it has. This influences the way the clients interact with frontline employees and also determines the nature of customer service that is offered by the company.6 Service industry organizations need to be keen on the suitability of the job tasks that are assigned to individual employees as they greatly impact their performance. A suitable fit between the human capital and the organization’s strategic plan is needed for the company to realize its positive results and outcomes.

The devolution process, which enhances the commitment levels of the company’s employees, enables them to be well prepared for the unexpected challenges they can and may face when carrying out their duties. The responsibilities of each individual employee in the company should be structured to conform to his training, skills and capabilities. An effective HR policy also encourages employees to learn new skills and helps in making their work easy. A horizontal integration approach makes it possible for the HR initiatives carried out to mirror the organization’s strategic objectives and goals.7 The use of appraisal systems serves to encourage individual excellence of the employees within the organization; this in turn helps the organization to become consistent and in general, it improves its overall performance.

The effective management of people helps the organization to use the employees’ capabilities to attain positive results that are consistent with the set objectives. This approach regards the employees as people who are resourceful and integral to the company’s growth and success. This gives employees a higher drive and self motivation to work on the duties that their superiors delegate to them. A stronger link between the HR policies and the organizational practices of a firm can help in formulating priorities that are to be met to fulfill the company’s goals. The senior management of the firm should be made aware of the future staff needs that are essential for actualizing the set goals. HR planning should be flexible in identifying the personnel required to deliver the desired short-term and long-term results.8

The resource that is provided by the human capital of a firm is intangible and has the potential of bringing competitiveness and success to a firm. The collective skills, ideas and capabilities that are offered by the personnel of a firm help to deliver organizational success. The personnel of a firm are vital in running all the processes that result in a desirable output.9 The employees’ input brings about new ideas and innovations in work processes and procedures, which in turn improve the competitiveness of a firm in a particular industry. The activities that are performed by workers help to align the operations of a firm with the strategic direction it seeks to pursue.

Many organizations have shifted their HR functions from centralized to the devolved and decentralized roles. Large organizations have devolved some of their functions to peripheral units to streamline their activities and offer better services to their clients. This has brought about an evolution in the way HR is practiced because it has merged with other important management functions. The HR function has streamlined to ensure that the integration of key functions of similar work tasks is spread out to and covers different geographical locations. Improvements in technology have made it possible for various functions in the organizations to be interconnected electronically, which has brought a shift in the way the employees’ duties are carried out.10

The divisional units are able to communicate with each other and with the central unit to share information and ideas regarding various work related issues. Employees within these units have been empowered to make crucial decisions that relate to their assigned tasks with less supervision from their superiors. It is still a challenge to track overall efficiency and performance from the different divisions of a firm. Systems that can guarantee greater consistency can make it possible for a firm to track the performance of its units that are spread out in different locations.11 Devolution has brought about greater autonomy in the different units and departments of a firm because they are able to make crucial decisions regarding their operations on their own.

HR devolution has brought about greater efficiency in the way organizations are run and managed. The functions of the central unit of an organization have become fewer in number and the HR department addresses the policy issues that touch on the different areas of the organization. Greater focus has been directed toward being ready for the unpredictable changes that may arise in both external and internal environments of the organization. The devolution process in HR is informed mainly by the need to develop the workforce to be adaptable to challenging situations they can face at the workplace.12 The employees are made to acquire a variety of skills and competencies through training to be effective in carrying out their duties and responsibilities within a more challenging business environment.

The human resource process has managed to prove its own importance in the way a firm carries out its operations. The HR function in many firms has evolved and is more oriented toward the success that it can be able to bring to the operations of the company. The HR department delivers value to the operations of any business and is one of the key components that have an impact on the direction a firm is likely to take in the future. The pressure to perform for HR professionals and other employees has become higher than ever before.13 Devolution in HR has brought about reorganization of the responsibilities of workers at the workplace to take note of operational efficiency. The role of the HR function has become valued by many organizations and has brought about new challenges in the way operations are conducted in the companies.

In conclusion, it must be highlighted that the devolution in HR has brought about a lot of changes in the way the work is done. This has made the HR process an acceptable way through which organizations can make their operations more efficient and effective. HR devolution has changed the nature of the human resource policies and procedures that a firm introduces as part of its operations.


Aghazedeh, Seyed-Mahmoud, “The Future of Human Resource Management.” Work Study 52, no. 4 (2003): 201-207.

Ahmad, Sohel and Roger G. Schroeder, “The Impact of Human Resource Management Practices on Operational Performance: Recognizing Country and Industry Difference.” Journal of Operations Management 21, no. 1(2003): 19-43.

Becker, Brian E. and Mark. A. Huselid, “Strategic Human Resources Management: Where Do we Go from Here?”, Human Resource Management 38, no. 4 (2006):898-925.

Bjorkman, Ingmar and Je Lervik Rardgivning. “Transferring HR Practices Within Multinational Corporations.” Human Resource Management Journal 17, no. 4 (2007): 320-335.

Boxall, Peter and John Purcell. “Strategic Human Resource Management: Where Have we Come From and Where Should we be Going?” International Journal of Management Reviews 2, no. 2 (2000): 183-203.

Chang, Wong J.A and Tom C. Huang, “Relationship Between Strategic Human Resource Management and Firm Performance: A Contingency Perspective.” International Journal of Manpower 26, no 5 (2005): 434-439.

Cunningham, Ian, and Jeff Hyman. “Devolving Human Resource Responsibilities to the Line: Beginning of an Era or a New Beginning for Personnel?” Personnel Review 28, no. 1 (1999):9-27.

De Pablos, Patricia Ordonez. “Strategic Human Resource Management and Organizational Competitiveness: The Importance of Fit and Flexibility.” International Journal of Human Resource Development and Management 5, no. 1 (2005): 1-15.

Gardner, Timothy. “Human Resource Alliances: Defining the Construct and Exploring the Antecedents.” International Journal of Human Resource Management 16, no.6 (2005): 1049-1066.

Kamoche, Ken. “Strategic Human Management Within a Resource Capability.” Journal of Management Studies 33, no. 2 (1996): 213-233.

Khatri, Naresh. “Managing Human Resources for Competitive Advantage: A Study of Companies in Singapore.” International Journal of Human Resource Management 11, no. 2 (2000): 336-366.

Lengniick-Hall, Mark L., Cynthia A. Lengnick-Hall, Leticia S. Andrade & Brian Drake, “Strategic Human Resource Management: The Evolution of the Field.” Human Resource Management Review19 (2009): 64-85.

Whittaker, Susan, and Michael Marchington. “Devolving HR Responsibility: Threat, Opportunity or Partnership.” Employee Relations 25, no. 3 (2003): 245-261.


1 Mark L. Lengniick-Hall, Cynthia A. Lengnick-Hall, Leticia S. Andrade, and Brian Drake, “Strategic Human Resource Management: The Evolution of the Field,” Human Resource Management Review, 19 (2009): 75.

2 Susan Whittaker and Michael Marchington, “Devolving HR Responsibility: Threat, Opportunity or Partnership,” Employee Relations 25, no. 3 (2003): 251.

3 Ken Kamoche, “Strategic Human Management within a Resource Capability,” Journal of Management Studies 33, no. 2 (1996): 227.

4 Peter Boxall, and John Purcell, “Strategic Human Resource Management: Where Have We Come from and Where Should We Be Going?” International Journal of Management Reviews 2, no. 2 (2000): 194.

5 Seyed-Mahmoud Aghazedeh, “The Future of Human Resource Management ,” Work Study 52, no. 4 (2003): 204.

6 Ian Cunningham, and Jeff Hyman,“ Devolving Human Resource Responsibilities to the Line : Beginning of an Era or a New Beginning for Personnel?”, Personnel Review 28, no 1 (1999): 18.

7 Sohel Ahmad, and Roger G. Schroeder, “The Impact of Human Resource Management Practices on Operational Performance: Recognizing Country and Industry Difference,” Journal of Operations Management 21, no. 1(2003): 27.

8 Brian E. Becker, and Mark. A. Huselid , “ Strategic Human Resources Management: Where Do we Go From Here?”, Human Resource Management 38, no. 4 (2006):905.

9 Ingmar Bjorkman, and Je Lervik Rardgivning, “Transferring HR Practices Within Multinational Corporations,” Human Resource Management Journal 17, no. 4 (2007): 322.

10 Wong J.A Chang, and Tom C. Huang, “Relationship Between Strategic Human Resource Management and Firm Performance: A Contingency Perspective,” International Journal of Manpower 26, no 5 (2005): 434-435.

11 Patricia O. de Pablos, “Strategic Human Resource Management and Organizational Competitiveness: The Importance of Fit and Flexibility,” International Journal of Human Resource Development and Management 5, no. 1 (2005):8.

12 Timothy Gardner, “Human Resource Alliances: Defining the Construct and Exploring the Antecedents,” International Journal of Human Resource Management 16, no. 6 (2005): 1049-1050.

13 Naresh Khatri, “Managing Human Resources for Competitive Advantage: A Study of Companies in Singapore,” International Journal of Human Resource Management 11, no. 2 (2000): 336-338.

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