Grant Russell and David Kryscynski, Organizational Leadership and Strategy
The aim of this project was to better understand how individuals within an organization would affect the organization’s ability to innovate, compete, and sustain strategic advantage in the marketplace as measured through ‘expert’ surveys. This was driven by David Kryscynski in partnership with the RBL group and the University of Michigan as a part of the 2015 Human Resources Competency Survey. While my role shifted significantly over time, generally my involvement was split into 3 phases which are described in the methodology below.
Phase I: September 2014 – December 2014
Initially, I focused primarily on examining the current and past strategy literature to examine how scholars and industry leaders define the topic. The preliminary literature review helped us base our survey design in accepted theoretical perspectives. While my literature review related to strategy, I also helped review and edit the questions for 6 other surveys: Organizational Expert, Innovation Expert, M&A Expert Survey, Information Expert Survey, Finance Expert Survey, and the HR Expert Survey. I also helped format those surveys for our partners to review before the vendor engineer built the survey instrument online.
Phase II: January 2014 – April 2014
Another important part of the project was designing the survey logic for each of the expert surveys. The engineer used the flow chart logic to ensure that we were asking all the questions with the right dependencies. Once the online survey was built, I helped organize a focus group to test the online tool with multiple operating systems and browsers. We collected feedback on the experience and survey itself and implemented changes before launching the survey to give users the best possible experience. As I was nearing the end of the school year, DK asked that I conduct another literature review on knowledge management so I provided a list of recommended questions that could be asked in later research.
2015 HRCS Survey Testing: March 2015 – August 2015
Phase III: September 2015 – present
At the end of the testing period, we had 30,227 total respondents globally. Those respondents represented 1,509 business units. 26,224 of the raters were associate raters while 3877 of them were HR participants. Shortly after finishing the testing, DK received a call for papers on HR data analytics. We believed that our research might answer many of the questions in that space so we decided to explore the topic further. Working closely with another research assistant, we began exploring two main questions: (1) How does an individual’s HR analytics competency relate to an individual’s personal performance? and (2) How does the average HR analytics competency within an organization relate to business performance? We collaborated closely to conduct a robust literature review on HR data analytics.
Results and Discussion
Surprisingly, while we found numerous claims that workforce analytics would strengthen the view of HR as a strategic partner, we discovered that management scholars had yet to perform a rigorous empirical analysis that examined whether or not workforce analytics is actually delivering on its promise to drive individual, department, and firm performance. So we developed hypothesis for why these relationships might occur and have began to test those hypotheses. While the analysis is still ongoing, the initial results seem to indicate that analytics has a positive effect on individual credibility and business acumen and that both of those aspects have a positive effect on individual performance. We believe that this research could legitimize HR analytical ability as competency driving individual performance. we also believe that it could also open up new areas of research on the topic. We are now working hard to finish the analysis and write the rest of the paper to submit before the December 31st deadline.
As the analysis is still ongoing, it is hard to make any clear conclusion right now. However, I can provide a reflection on my overall process. As I reflect on my experience thus far, I am extremely grateful. It has given me the end-to-end perspective on research that I was hoping for. It provided me with insight into a great variety of activities that happen throughout the research process too. For example, I not only had the opportunity to practice (and succeed) in writing a research proposal for grant money, but I was able to conduct three separate literature reviews on related yet distinct topics and help design surveys based in research. I was also able to learn important operational and tactical skills like vendor management and cross-university professorial collaboration. Writing was also very helpful. One of the most difficult parts in writing the paper was in developing the hypotheses, defining the constructs, and ensuring that we were mapping the right survey items to right constructs. However challenging it may have been, I feel much more confident now in my ability to ask the right question and measure it the right way. While I am not able to conduct the analysis myself, I feel like this research experience has given me great perspective on what research is really like. I think that I am much more prepared for a future of research and graduate school should I choose to pursue it.