Exploring the role of HR practitioners in pursuit of organizational effectiveness in higher education institutions

Hala F Mansour, Geoffrey Heath, Matthew J Brannan

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


This paper focuses on how HR professionals view their role in contributing to organizational effectiveness in the HE sector. Drawing on interview data, we trace how rival definitions of organizational effectiveness relate to two emergent conceptions of rationality. Firstly we identify instrumental forms of rationality based on assessments of how well (or efficiently) organisations achieve pre-ordained objectives. Secondly, we identify stakeholder satisfaction models of organisational effectiveness, which concern the extent to which competing needs of stakeholders are satisfied and, thus, presuppose a more dialogic view of rationality. The context for our discussion is the UK Higher Education sector and, drawing on our research, we argue that universities can be seen as moving from a stakeholder satisfaction model to an instrumentally rational model of organisational effectiveness. Our findings suggest that HR professionals do support attempts to re-orientate their institutions towards a top-down form of organisation, which would privilege high level objectives and efficiency (thus following the prescriptions of the New Public Management movement). This implies a move away from a more traditional view of universities as discursive and participatory organisations, where effectiveness is regarded as meeting the varied needs of stakeholders, such as academics, students and the wider society, in a balanced way. However, whilst the HRM professionals largely favour such a shift, they acknowledge limitations to the extent that is practical or even entirely desirable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-230
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Change Management
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jun 2015


  • HRM reform
  • New Public Management
  • higher education
  • organisational change
  • organisational effectiveness
  • organisational rationality


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the role of HR practitioners in pursuit of organizational effectiveness in higher education institutions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this