Balancing Interests in the Search for Occupational Legitimacy: The HR Professionalization Project in Canada

Governance HR Profession Public Policy

Is HR a legitimate profession? Struggles HR practitioners face in gaining legitimacy in Canada and beyond.

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Balancing Interests in the Search for Occupational Legitimacy: The HR Professionalization Project in Canada

Pohler, D., & Willness, C. (2014) Balancing Interests in the Search for Occupational Legitimacy: The HR Professionalization Project in Canada. Human Resource Management, 53(3): 467-488.

Related: Pohler, D. (2014) Ontario: Please Come Back to the CCHRA. The Canadian HR Reporter, July.

Abstract: Despite broad debates surrounding how the human resource management occupation can increase its legitimacy, researchers have yet to examine the collective steps HR practitioners are taking in this regard and the extent to which they have been successful. We conduct a case study of the HR professionalization project in Canada via multisource qualitative and quantitative data, which we analyze using a unique integration of the trait and control models from the sociology of professions, as well as isomorphism from institutional theory. Viewed through the lens of these frameworks, we find that HR practitioners are attempting to emulate traits that define traditional notions of professions, and are aspiring to transcendent values associated with balancing the sometimes conflicting interests of employers and employees. Objective data from external stakeholders and institutions show that these collective strategies have been somewhat successful in garnering greater legitimacy thus far, particularly when comparisons are made with the HR professional project in the United States. We highlight numerous implications for future research and practice surrounding the legitimacy of the HR profession.

Is HR a legitimate profession? Struggles HR practitioners face in gaining legitimacy in Canada and beyond.

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2018-01-15 19:25:28

Governance as a Determinant of Success and Failure: What Other Co-ops Can Learn from Co-op Atlantic

Governance Co-ops

Co-op Atlantic is not the first federation of retail co-operatives to fail. Others have failed in Québec, France, Germany, and elsewhere. Co-op Atlantic’s story is a recent example of a pattern from which others can learn. We believe it is important for other co-operatives to pay attention to lessons from Co-op Atlantic’s story — lessons that in our view ultimately come down to governance choices and behaviours.

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Governance as a Determinant of Success and Failure: What Other Co-ops Can Learn from Co-op Atlantic

Fairbairn, B., Fulton, M., & Pohler, D. (November 2015) Governance as a Determinant of Success and Failure: What Other Co-ops Can Learn from Co-op Atlantic. Centre for the Study of Co-operatives: University of Saskatchewan.

In 2012, Co-op Atlantic observed its eighty-fifth anniversary and was celebrated as the largest co-operative in Atlantic Canada. As a federation of local retail co-operatives, Co-op Atlantic’s role was to strengthen and support the member co-ops, in particular by providing wholesale goods and services to them in three core areas: food, petroleum products, and agricultural supplies. Its president told delegates present at the annual meeting that “Co-op Atlantic has shown its ability to transform itself, while remaining an essential link between communities of the Atlantic region.” Three years later, in May 2015, the co-op sold its grocery and gasoline business to rival Sobeys. And after filing for bankruptcy protection, Co-op Atlantic proceeded systematically to sell its remaining assets. In October 2015, the co-op sold its fuel business — Co-op Energy — to CST Canada, another private company. Finally, in November 2015, the co-op announced the sale of most of its remaining agricultural supply business to La Coopérative fédérée du Québec. Farmers and the surviving retail co-ops in the region now obtain products and services from these new suppliers. The dream of a united co-operative system span ning the chain from farmers to consumers has come to an end. Co-op Atlantic operated for eighty-eight years and helped sustain consumers, farmers, employees, and communities as co-operatives typically do. An enterprise that survives for more than three generations is not a flawed model. However, Co-op Atlantic’s demise represents a loss of future possibilities. Could it have been prevented? Can other co-ops prevent such a turn of events?

Co-op Atlantic is not the first federation of retail co-operatives to fail. Others have failed in Québec, France, Germany, and elsewhere. Co-op Atlantic’s story is a recent example of a pattern from which others can learn. We believe it is important for other co-operatives to pay attention to lessons from Co-op Atlantic’s story — lessons that in our view ultimately come down to governance choices and behaviours.

/storage/files/Co-op Atlantic final.pdf
2018-01-15 18:51:13

Multinationals' Compliance with Employment Law: An Empirical Assessment Using Administrative Data from Ontario, 2004-2015

Governance Law Public Policy Unions

Do multinational companies comply with the law in a developed country like Canada? Our key findings based on data from Ontario suggest that unions predict compliance across all foreign MNCs, and there are systematic country-of-origin effects on MNC compliance in non-unionized workplaces.

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Multinationals' Compliance with Employment Law: An Empirical Assessment Using Administrative Data from Ontario, 2004-2015

Pohler, D., & Riddell, C. (accepted) Multinationals' compliance with employment law: An empirical assessment using administrative data from Ontario, 2004-2015. Industrial and Labor Relations Review.

Our study contributes new evidence to the literature on MNC behaviors by exploring three related questions: (1) Do MNCs comply with local employment laws in a developed country? (2) To the extent that compliance varies across MNCs, what factors are important in shaping compliance? (3) Is there a “foreignness” effect for MNCs operating in developed countries, and does this effect vary according to country-of-origin and/or union status? To investigate these questions, we compiled unique firm-level administrative data on MNC compliance with regulatory and quasi-regulatory employment practices during mass layoffs in Ontario, Canada. Adopting a research design that uses the behavior of Canadian MNCs as the comparison group, our key findings suggest that unions are a very robust predictor of compliance across all foreign MNCs, and that there are systematic country-of-origin effects on MNC compliance in non-unionized workplaces.

Do multinational companies comply with the law in a developed country like Canada? Our key findings based on data from Ontario suggest that unions predict compliance across all foreign MNCs, and there are systematic country-of-origin effects on MNC compliance in non-unionized workplaces.

2018-01-15 17:27:43

Credit Unions in Canada: Design Principles for Greater Co-operation

Governance Co-ops

The Canadian credit union system is facing unprecedented challenges, and credit union leaders are struggling with how to structure their governance arrangements, not only within their own organizations but also at the system level. This report highlights the efficiency-autonomy trade-off that is present in co-operation among credit unions.

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Credit Unions in Canada: Design Principles for Greater Co-operation

Fulton, M., Fairbairn, B., & Pohler, D. (September 2017) Credit Unions in Canada: Design Principles for Greater Co-operation. Centre for the Study of Co-operatives: University of Saskatchewan. Blog summary here.

In attempting to create new national organizations, Canadian credit unions face a trade-off between efficiency and autonomy. The consolidation of the credit union system is ultimately a problem of governance. Unless a governance structure is found that fosters shared norms and values in addition to economic benefits, it is unlikely that credit unions as a system will be able to overcome free-riding behaviour, foster trust and legitimacy, and adapt and respond to a rapidly changing and uncertain environment. All these challenges must be met if the credit union system is to achieve the efficiencies required to operate in Canada’s highly competitive financial industry. This paper identifies six design principles that can contribute to the good governance of a new national organization. These principles have proven valuable in achieving co-operation in a range of other settings, two examples of which are also discussed in the report.

 

The Canadian credit union system is facing unprecedented challenges, and credit union leaders are struggling with how to structure their governance arrangements, not only within their own organizations but also at the system level. This report highlights the efficiency-autonomy trade-off that is present in co-operation among credit unions.

/storage/files/Credit Unions and Co-operation FINAL.pdf
2017-10-17 02:21:34

Federated Co-operatives Limited: Change Management

Governance Co-ops

Federated Co-operatives Limited struggles with implementing massive organizational changes in talent management, technology, and branding.

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Federated Co-operatives Limited: Change Management

Pohler, D. (2016) Federated Co-operatives Limited: Change Management. Ivey Publishing.

In 2013, after almost three years of making organizational changes, the chief executive officer of Federated Co-Operatives Limited (FCL) wondered if he was pushing his unique company through a transformation too quickly or if he was not pushing hard enough to modernize the company. FCL was a co-operative, a remnant of a farmers’ purchasing association that had grown to become one of the 50 largest companies in Canada. However, the company’s financial success and democratic governance structure had lulled FCL into a situation characterized by outdated processes and systems. Information technology, branding, leadership, and talent management processes needed to be transformed, and a culture change was necessary to move forward. But some employees were resisting, possibly as a result of burnout due to the magnitude of change or the co-operative governance structure that complicated the process of change. The chief executive officer needed to address his employees at a questions and answers session about the progress of the transformation. What should he tell them?

Federated Co-operatives Limited struggles with implementing massive organizational changes in talent management, technology, and branding.

2017-01-24 21:55:03

The Human Resource Department's Role and Conditions that Affect its Development: Explanations from Austrian CEOs

Governance HR Profession

How do CEOs view the role and development of the HR function?

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The Human Resource Department's Role and Conditions that Affect its Development: Explanations from Austrian CEOs

Brandl, J., & Pohler, D. (2010) The human resource department's role and conditions that affect its development: Explanations from Austrian CEOs. Human Resource Management, 49(6): 1025-1046.

Abstract: Using a qualitative approach, this study fills a void in the literature on strategic HRM by analyzing Austrian CEOs' perceptions of the role of the HR department in their organizations, and the conditions that affect the development of a strategic role. The results suggest that even if CEOs have an overall positive evaluation of their HR departments and are willing to delegate responsibility for higher-level decision-making, to develop the HR department's role, CEOs must also feel they have the scope to do so. A framework for future research and practical implications for opportunities and constraints confronting HR managers are discussed.

How do CEOs view the role and development of the HR function?

2017-01-24 20:31:18

Employee Inclusivity and Inequality in America: The Promises and Perils of Shared Capitalism

Inequality HR Practices Public Policy Strategic HRM

Do shared capitalism practices that give employees an “ownership” stake in the companies for which they work—through profit sharing, gain sharing, share grants, or stock options—present a viable solution to address inclusivity and income and wealth inequality issues in America? Or is shared capitalism simply "old wine in new bottles"?

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Employee Inclusivity and Inequality in America: The Promises and Perils of Shared Capitalism

Pohler, D. (2015) Employee Inclusivity and Inequality in America. Perspectives on Work, 19: 18-21; 76--77.

There has been increasing interest in the promise of shared capitalism to improve firm performance, increase employee productivity, enhance employee well-being, increase employee voice and participation, and reduce wealth and income inequality. Recent research has found correlations between shared capitalism practices and many of these outcomes, particularly firm performance. However, shared-capitalism practices that increase employee financial ownership of the organizations for which they work do not usually fundamentally alter the governance structure and power dynamics inside the firm that really matter for ensuring employee inclusivity and reducing inequality at the firm level. To do so requires greater employee participation and influence over the decisions that determine the distribution of organizational benefits than is currently the norm in the United States.

Do shared capitalism practices that give employees an “ownership” stake in the companies for which they work—through profit sharing, gain sharing, share grants, or stock options—present a viable solution to address inclusivity and income and wealth inequality issues in America? Or is shared capitalism simply "old wine in new bottles"?

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2017-01-24 02:49:00

Co-operative Innovation Project

Governance Co-ops Public Policy Development

We need to take the co-operative business model more seriously as an economic and social development tool for rural and Indigenous communities in Western Canada.

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Co-operative Innovation Project

Fulton, M., Pohler., D., Massie, M., Overlander, D., & Wu, H. (2016) Co-operative Innovation Project. Centre for the Study of Co-operatives: University of Saskatchewan.

Pohler, D., & Fulton, M. (Nov 8, 2013) Why we should take the co-operative business model more seriously. Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

Fulton, M., & Pohler, D. (2014) Co-operative Development in Rural and Aboriginal Communities. Saskatchewan Business Magazine, April/May.

We visited communities from British Columbia to Manitoba, spoke with over two thousand people by phone, had over 350 community administrators answer a web-based survey about their community, and had a chance to learn from co-op developers on the ground about the intricacies and challenges of co-operative development in rural and Indigenous communities.

We need to take the co-operative business model more seriously as an economic and social development tool for rural and Indigenous communities in Western Canada.

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2017-01-24 02:46:21

Governance and Managerial Effort in Consumer-Owned Enterprises

Governance Co-ops Public Policy

What is different about the relationship between boards in CEOs in co-operatives than in investor-owned firms, and how should we think differently about governance in consumer-owned enterprises?

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Governance and Managerial Effort in Consumer-Owned Enterprises

Fulton, M., & Pohler, D. (2015) Governance and Managerial Effort in Consumer-Owned Enterprises. European Review of Agricultural Economics, 42(5): 713-737.

This article develops a political economy model of the board–manager relationship in consumer-owned enterprises (COEs), illustrating how the governance structure plays a key role in determining managerial power. The key conclusion of the article is that managerial remuneration and the resources devoted to governance are strategic choices for the COE and that their determination involves a trade-off. This trade-off depends on factors external to the COE, such as the COE's time horizon (as captured in the discount rate) and the manager's opportunity cost outside the COE (e.g. the remuneration paid in investor-owned firms). The trade-off also is influenced by the degree of complementarity between remuneration and governance resources, and by the sensitivity of managerial utility to financial remuneration and to governance.

What is different about the relationship between boards in CEOs in co-operatives than in investor-owned firms, and how should we think differently about governance in consumer-owned enterprises?

2017-01-05 22:33:19