Top 20 Institutions

Which institutions have had the
most impact over the past 20 years on shaping the HR profession as we know it
today? Alison Thomas gives a countdown

1. The Internet

Profile:  The Internet has taken the workplace by storm
at a speed which leaves many gasping for breath. It is helping to drive the
move towards outsourcing and opens up channels of communication undreamt of a
few years ago. Employees can manage their own development plans, managers can
disseminate information and obtain rapid feedback on issues of the day.
E-learning brings training to the desktop and video conferencing allows people
to network with colleagues around the globe. From recruitment to pensions it
impacts on the entire employee life cycle and relieves managers of
administrative tasks. What better opportunity for HR to redefine its role and
move into the boardroom?

Where? Cyberspace

Harvard Business School

Profile:  No top 20 would be complete without Harvard,
which has turned out more business leaders than any other business school in
the world. Despite its formidable reputation in the area of strategy – who has
not heard of Michael Porter? – it does not have as distinctive a voice in human
resource management as US rivals Wharton or Cornell. On the other hand, Harvard
Business Review is the ultimate business publication and has featured countless
ground-breaking articles by the world’s most distinguished scholars.

Alumni: No fewer than 60,000
business executives in more than 130 countries. Many head up leading
organisations such as Levi Strauss and Intuit or have founded start-up

Where? US: Boston,

Industrial Society

Profile:   The Industrial Society has been driven for
the past 80 years by one consistent goal – to create a better workplace. It
went into decline during the market-driven 1980s and although the 1990s saw it
consolidate its role as a serious training body it is only now regaining its
status as an influential campaigner. Over the past year it has re-invented
itself with Will Hutton at the helm. It has created two new domains – Policy
and Futures – and revamped its Practice domain, aiming to raise its national
profile, responding more quickly to change and challenging policy-makers.

Where? UK:
Birmingham, London, Glasgow, Belfast

Trades Union Congress

Profile: Few bodies have
experienced such a dramatic change in fortunes over the past 30 years as the
trade unions, from their dominance in the 1970s to their spell in the
wilderness under the Thatcher administration. With the introduction of new
legislation they are back on the scene but the climate is very different. John
Monks’ call to his members to abandon the cloth cap image heralds a new era of
partnership and cooperation, aided and abetted by the Amalgamated Engineering
and Electrical Union (AEEU) and others.

Where? UK: London

Department of Trade and Industry

Profile:  Every government has an impact on HR and
this one is no exception. The barrage of legislation emanating from the DTI has
been so overwhelming that the CBI has urged the Government to call a halt to
all new legislation unless there is a strong business case. On a more positive
note, it instigated the Partnership with People initiative to study the impact
of forging closer relationships between staff and senior management. Another
welcome move is the new code of practice on consultation, although time will
tell if the Government adheres to its own recommendations, particularly
regarding timing.

Where? UK: London

Society for Human Resource Management

Profile: For its sheer size and
global coverage, the SHRM is the most influential HR professional body in the
world. Proclaiming itself to be "the voice of the profession", it is
not afraid of challenging the US government through the courts if necessary.
Recent research projects include a joint study with the American Society for Training
and Development, which highlights the importance of training and development in
attracting and retaining talent. In a separate study, the ASTD has established
a direct link between training and total stockholder return.

Where? US:
Alexandria, Virginia

European Union

Profile:  The EU has certainly made its mark on the
employer-employee relationship, focusing on major issues such as working time,
fundamental human rights, parental leave and equal pay. The Human Rights Act
came into force in October and new anti-discrimination legislation is on its
way. The Government’s success at the Nice summit in holding out against making
the Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding was welcomed by the CBI. The
Industrial Society, on the other hand, would have preferred an extension to
legislation on employee consultation, which it believes to have proven business

Where? Various in

London Business School

Profile:  London Business School first rose to fame
with the arrival of Charles Handy in 1967. Now it is Lynda Gratton who is
putting it on the HR map. Her latest book, Living Strategy, has attracted
extensive publicity, giving long-overdue exposure to the link between people
management and business performance. Other academics doing important work in
this field include David Guest of King’s College London and John Purcell of
Bath University. Warwick too has contributed a stream of research, although it
has lost its way a little recently.

Alumni: The vast network of
16,000 includes key players such as Sir Iain Vallance, chairman of British
Telecom and Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet.

Where? UK: London

Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development

Profile:  By its own definition the CIPD is the
leading professional body for those involved in the management and development
of people. It hosts the largest HR conference in Europe and its newly acquired
chartered status has given the profession a much-needed boost. But its
insistence on narrow, specialist qualifications is the subject of controversy,
as is its neglect of its training and development members. It has also been
criticised for failing to exert political pressure. If people are the only
source of competitive advantage, as the institute proclaims, should the
"leading professional body" not be making its voice heard?

Where? UK: London

Confederation of British Industry

Profile:  As the recognised voice of business, the CBI
had the ear of the last Conservative government and continues to make itself
felt under a Labour administration. It has had a busy year lobbying on a range of
issues such as trade union recognition, employment tribunal reform, red tape,
the minimum wage, key skills and part-time work. Among employers’ associations,
the Engineering Employers Federation stands out for its contribution to the
development of government policy as well as its work in education and training.

Where? UK: HQ
London. Offices across UK and Brussels

University of Michigan Business School

Profile:  Michigan gained a reputation for innovation
in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Respected thinkers include Noel M Tichy for
his work on organisational development and executive leadership and CK
Prahalad, famous for the ground-breaking Competing for the Future co-authored
with fellow strategist Gary Hamel. More significantly, Michigan is also home to
HR’s favourite guru, David Ulrich, who believes that HR creates value and cites
numerous examples of best practice to prove it.

Where? US: Ann
Arbor, Michigan

Cranfield School of Management

Profile: Cranfield earns its
place for the quality of its postgraduate teaching and specialised research in
the fields of organisational development, HR management and industrial
relations. The Human Resource Research Centre is at the forefront of the debate
on how HR management contributes to successful business performance, while on
the international front the work of David Brewster carries considerable weight.

Alumni: Kim Parish, personnel
director, Scottish & Newcastle Retail; Andrea Dunstan, HR director,
Barclays Bank; Graham Abbey, HR manager, McColl.

Where? UK: Bedford


Profile:  Rated the number one MBA provider in Europe
by Business Week, Insead’s strength lies in its international dimension –
especially relevant today as HR professionals grapple with the multicultural
implications of global business. It is also strong in the field of
organisational behaviour, particularly through the work of Paul Evans, one of
the world’s foremost authorities on international human resources management.

Alumni: The international focus
continues after graduation and the web of alumni stretches from one side of the
globe to the other. Alumni spend on average 30-65 per cent of their careers

Where? France:
Fontainbleau; Singapore

Roffey Park Management Institute

Profile:  Roffey Park is synonymous with strategic HR.
It permeates all the school’s research topics such as work-life balance,
careers and flatter structures, and the human implications of mergers and
acquisitions. It is also the focus of Linda Holbeche’s second book, Aligning HR
and Business Strategy. The school’s aim is to study issues and come up with
practical solutions. Its annual Management Agenda also provides meaningful
insights into the work and well-being of managers.

Alumni: Mary Donnelly, HR
director, BT Cellnet (previous CIPD personnel manager of the year); Alex Grant,
managing director, Roche Diagnostics; Charles Horton, operations director,
Connex; Ian Watkins, vice-president HR worldwide, Bausch & Lomb; Deepak
Rzdan, technical director, Adtranz; Andrea Chivers, vice-president HR, Citibank.

Where? UK: St
Leonard’s Forest

Towers Perrin

Profile:  A giant in HR, Towers Perrin’s client roster
includes about 700 of the Fortune 1,000 companies. Its core belief is that
people create results for business and one of its specialist areas is benefits
and rewards. It works from the premise that when compensation programmes are
linked to business strategy and performance goals, they are a critical enabler
in competitive advantage. Another major player in this field is Hewitt, which
foresees rapid growth in the outsourcing of benefits administration to create a
competitive edge in attracting and retaining talent.

Where? US: HQ New
York, Offices around the world


Profile:  Exult provides integrated, web-enabled
services designed to manage the entire HR function. A pioneer in the field, it
has lofty ambitions to cater for all the Global 500 corporations. Its Advisory
Council comprises top people such as Lynda Gratton, David Ulrich and Nick
Starritt of BP Amoco. Newcomer on the block is e-peopleserve, a joint venture
by BT and Accenture. Both outfits claim to offer firms huge reductions in costs
coupled with significant added value. It looks as if outsourcing is here to

Where? US: Irvine,

Centre for Research in Employment and Technology in Europe

Profile:  Independent consultancy Create specialises
in research on the future of work, organisation and society. Less prolific than
the Institute for Employment Studies, it is more innovative and more adept at
anticipating trends. In the early 1980s it identified globalisation and IT as
key emerging issues, since when it has conducted research on knowledge workers,
culture change, leadership and flexibility, both physical and psychological.
Its latest study, Tomorrow’s Organisation, focuses on the new mindsets required
to fulfill customer expectations and sustain competitive advantage.

Where? UK:
Tunbridge Wells

18. Institute
of Directors

Profile: As the representative
body of about 48,000 directors, the IoD fights the employers’ corner in areas
such as industrial relations and the Social Chapter. It draws up policy in
consultation with its members, which is bad news for HR, as its own research
has shown that most directors have a simplistic approach to employer-employee
relationships. To its credit it is trying to do something about this and in
1998 brought out a guide offering practical advice. More recently, it has shown
its commitment to educational issues by putting pressure on the Government to
improve the system of apprenticeships.

Where? UK: HQ
London, with offices across the country

19. Motorola University

Profile:  Motorola was one of the first corporate
universities and their number continues to grow. The organisation sees it as
"a catalyst for change" and every employee receives at least 40 hours
of training each year. Very impressive, but does it make a difference? Motorola
believes that it does, to the tune of US$33 for every US$1 invested. Corporate
universities cannot replicate the depth and breadth of a traditional university
education, nor do they try to. What they can do is provide employees with
practical business knowledge and management competence designed to support the
company’s business objectives.

Where? Various
around the world

20. Eversheds

Profile: As the avalanche of
employment legislation piles up, the case load of employee claims grows with
it. This puts law firms right in the thick of things and one of the largest
players in the field is Eversheds. It is also the most highly regarded law firm
among HR professionals, according to a survey conducted for Personnel Today and
Employers’ Law. The unions take a different view. When Eversheds ran a "TU
Roadshow" last summer advising companies on US-style strategies for
preserving a union-free workplace, the TUC was not amused.

Where? UK, Europe
and the Far East

Comments are closed.