The paper "Analysis of HRM Practices and Systems within South-Asian Small Businesses by McPherson" is an outstanding example of management article. McPherson (2008) highlights a clear problem that even though human resource management (HRM) practices are a common attribute within organisations, many small firms do not practice them. The writer cites various authors who have supported this notion such as Cardon and Stevens (2004) who argue that the general comprehension of HR issues significant to upcoming and small enterprises is limited. Further, Casell et al (2002), Nguyen and Byrant (2004) and Marlow (2002) and lament a lack of consideration given to HRM issues within small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) research in general in particular HRM research.
All these articles highlight the magnitude of the problem identified by McPherson (2008). This point is also supported by Castrogiovanni, Urbano and Loras (2011) who cite various studies showing that most HRM studies in the past have been conducted within the framework of big corporations, and there is little information about the features in SMEs. The purpose of the paper is to compare and contrast the HRM practices between first- and second-generation entrepreneurs from South-Asia and the degree to which an integrated HRM system is sustained by such practices.
The author further restates the aim of the paper in an effort to address the imbalance in HRM practices. Here the author cites various works cited by Kotey and Slade (2005) and Cassell et al (2002), who put forward five general HRM functions and their expressions that are performed by organisations. Based on this, McPherson (2008) takes an approach based on a commentary by Carlson et al (2006).
The authors point out that there are not many studies that recognise HRM practices within SMEs, and even a smaller number that deals with the connection between practice and performance (McPherson, 2008, p. 415), and this is in line with the research problem of the article. McPherson’ s (2008) review of the literature suggests that studies that have been done on small business owned by migrant entrepreneurs within the United Kingdom have centred first-generation entrepreneurs. As such, there is little information about the role played by second-generation ethnic entrepreneurs as regards business management practices.
Another linkage between the review of the literature and the aim of the research as suggested by McPherson (2008) is that most South Asian enterprises hinge their practices on the detailed utilisation of familial and relational labour recruited through informal co-ethnic networks. This shows that such enterprises do not adhere to formal HRM practices, as pointed out both in the research problem and aim of this article. 2. Methodology and methods McPherson (2008) explains in detail the research design used, the research instruments employed, the sample size and sampling techniques, as well as data analysis.
The research design used concerns itself with subjecting theory to test through exploratory research from the collected information. Theory development is critical in exploratory research (Johnston, Leach & Liu, 2001). The aim of this research design was to create insight and thus facilitate comprehension of ethnic enterprise primarily from a viewport of the second-generation entrepreneurs, which is line with the review of literature and purpose of the study. The author employed a number of research instruments including semi-structured interviews, case studies, and documentary evidence. Semi-structured interviews are important because they increase interactions between the researcher and the respondent (Opdenakker, 2006).
There are many advantages of using case studies, including the fact that case study data is based on people’ s experiences and undertakings and so it is perceived to be reliable in terms of authenticity. But the disadvantage of such data is that it can be complex and therefore difficult to analyse (Blaxter, Hughes & Tight, 2006, p. 74). The methods employed are well-liked to the research design and purpose of the study because they were designed, tested and reassessed before being implemented in the actual research.
Further linkage is shown by the point that McPherson (2008, p. 421) also developed various documents which were used to record and annotate several aspects of the environment is investigated. The methods and instruments used are justified because the approach used by McPherson (2008) emphasises one of the crucial tenets of positivism in that any investigation of society and human behaviour should be scientific in accordance with natural sciences. One of the rules of such kind of research is the pursuit for objectivity and neutrality so that distance can be preserved and personal biases forestalled (Holloway, 1997, p.
122). However, positivism can be criticised on grounds that such as research is based on a strong dependence on the theory of scientific methods. The general idea here is that observations, choice of methods, and inferences made from data are dependent on the beliefs that one holds about the world under study (Green, Camili & Elmore, 2006, p. 34). This is a pointer to one of the weaknesses of the methods employed by McPherson (2008).
The author only supports the choice of methods from the positivist view and does not, therefore, highlight the weakness of the instruments used in the research. Sample size and the sampling procedure are well highlighted. The author notes that the sample comprised key informants selected from an array of industrial sectors located in the locality of Greater London. The sample included 42 first- and second-generation Pakistani Muslim and Sikh entrepreneurs from both family-owned and non-family owned business that represented 39 firms. The rationale for choosing the specific sample was informed by the need to understand whether family or ethnic relations informed the HRM practices of the research participants. Sources of bias can be identified based on how the firms represented in the research were categorised: this was based on business growth, survival and stability (McPherson, 2008, p.
423). The firms were also separated into two categories as traditional firms and emergent firms. Here, it is worth noting that businesses portraying multiple characteristics may not have fitted in the categorisation used by the author. A key limitation of the study by McPherson (2008) is that it is based on South-Asian firms yet it was conducted in the United Kingdom.
The firms investigated may not exactly depict the same traits as similar firms operating on South-Asian soil as they have been modified by the business environment in the United Kingdom. This is however not acknowledged by the author. In addition, Sikh and Pakistani Muslims are not the only South-Asian people in the Greater London area. The limitation acknowledged by McPherson (2008) is that the findings of the study may not be generalisable to the rest of the United Kingdom as the research was conducted only in the Greater London area, whose opportunities and socio-economic environment is not comparable with the whole of the United Kingdom.
In particular, this may have a bearing in areas that have a low predisposition for the business activity for embedded ethnic tribes and where different areas inform the kind of managerial and/or business behaviour. 3. Evaluation of the research design and how it might be enhanced The research design of McPherson’ s (2008) study helps us understand the problems at hand as it is clear that many small Asian firms do not adhere to conventional HRM practices.
The same issue is addressed by Yeung (2007, p. 90) and Sharma (2009, p. 68-69). The authors note that Asian firms tend to rely on the family setting for their organisations, and do not engage in standard human resources practices such as recruitment and so forth. This is the same problem highlighted by McPherson (2008) and the same is reflected in detail in the author’ s review of the literature. Key issues associated with the nature of HRM practices within South-Asian firms include gender discrimination as males are preferred to females when employment is done within the family context, non-compliance to general HRM practices, and an increase in dishonest employers, who are eager to bend the law to fit their contexts.
But the issue of grave concern is lack of knowledge, as is pointed out by McPherson (2008, p. 419) that many SMEs do not understand the severity of non-compliance as well as the extent of current employment or support regulations. Further, the author’ s literature review shows that some business owners are not only uninformed of the contents of legislation but are also hesitant to comply. The study achieved the objective because the researcher used both family and non-family firms; hence this presents an opportunity to understand the differences that exist between such firms.
The research design was also made such that the researcher wanted to understand the factors that informed the HRM factors adopted by the owners of the firms included in the study. Importantly, McPherson (2008) employed a number of research tools, which is important for the validity of the findings.
According to Marschan-Piekkari and Welch (p. 38), more and different methods are necessary to thoroughly understand the phenomenon of interest in research. The drawback of the research design, however, is the categorisation used in achieving the objective as not all the firms investigated have similar business and growth objectives.