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Long Range Planning

37/4 August 2004

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Charles Baden-Fuller Editorial

1. The Challenge of Diversity: Cultural Diversity and Ways of Working
Diversity in the workforce has become a key issue for many organizations in the 21st century. The changing nature of society in both the Anglo-Saxon and non-Anglo-Saxon worlds has forced organizations to rethink their approach to diversity practice. Where should we position our organizations in the multicultural pattern of our existing and potential workforce? The diverse nature of the markets where we compete (and source ideas and materials) forces us to recognize the importance of having a broad range of managerial and technical skills that is reinforced by diversity. With the shortage of talent in the knowledge-based society becoming ever more problematic, we are forced to rethink the wisdom of looking only amongst those who match our customary norms. To advance, we have to recognize that we must embrace multiculturalism and diversity in our management structures in a manner greater than ever imagined.

Val Singh and Sébastien Point lead off this issue with an article on how top European companies respond to the challenge of diversity by examining their website entries. We all recognize that web pages are now a major part of our organizations’ public face, and what we write there reflects how we think and wish to present ourselves. The results of their enquiry are rather shocking: few organizations perform really well, and less than half the sample had strategic and proactive approaches to diversity. Whilst it is true that UK firms were far ahead of their continental peers, there are major firms in every European country that can and should do more. And as the authors point out, fixing websites is only part of the solution; there must be an organizational commitment too. The authors examine how to assess statements about diversity and why this means that organizations need to perform better.

Telework, where employees can work from home or on the move rather than come to the employer’s office, is becoming more prevalent. Whilst not normally labelled as a diversity issue, it is certainly part of the move to rethink the boundaries of what organizations do and whom they employ. Viviane Illegems and Alain Verbeke consider how organizations should approach telework. They examine employee perceptions and the benefits to the organization and propose courses of action for organizations considering teleworking.

2. Balanced Scorecard
Articles on the balanced scorecard represent one of the most popular topics for "download" from the LRP database on ScienceDirect. It is clear that people want to know more about how the balanced scorecard can be introduced to achieve strategic effectiveness. I am pleased to publish two pieces commenting on the use of the balanced scorecard from the standpoint of practical implementation. J.M. Braam and Edwin J. Nijssen discuss the Dutch experience of the balanced scorecard, focussing on a careful example from a major financial institution. Alexandros Papalexandris, George Ioannou and Gregory Prastacos look at the Greek experience and focus on a major software company’s operations. Both show how strategy moves to practice.

3. Elsevier
Finally, I wish to pay tribute to the helpfulness of Tom Clark, Senior Publishing Editor at Elsevier Science, where he has skilfully managed the publisher-editor interface for the last three years. He is leaving Elsevier to start up his own business, and we shall miss him. We welcome Mary Malin, who will be taking over his role.

 


Viviane Illegems and Alain Verbeke Telework: What Does It Mean for Management? averbeke@ucalgary.ca

Many firms are now considering telework programs for their employees. Direct effects are easy to calculate: employees save commuting time and effort; while the firm incurs additional information and communication costs, but may save on office facility costs and gain higher productivity. But telework has great strategic importance beyond these effects, including contributing to a stronger human capital resource-base.
This article explores these wider questions, asking if employee views are consistent with the strategic, resource-related impacts on the organization, by means of two surveys conducted with HRM managers and employees of large firms based in the Brussels. The authors conclude that telework has multiple effects on the firm’s resource-base, and both top-down managerial expectations and bottom-up employee needs perspectives will have to be considered before the practice is adopted. They also report significant differences in the experience of those who have adopted telework already, and the (by-and-large less positive) expectations of those who have not. Firms with specific information-processing characteristics can be expected to derive the highest benefits from introducing telework, and even then will have to be prepared to fine-tune their broader HRM practices if strategic benefits are to be maximized.



Geert J.M. Braam and Edwin J. Nijssen Performance Effects of Using the Balanced Scorecard: A Note on the Dutch Experience g.braam@nsm.kun.nl

Kaplan and Norton’s Balanced Scorecard has become widely used by organizations to assess and manage their companies’ organizational performance. So why are managers sceptical about using it? This article reviews the experience of companies in Holland and opens with an illustration from a large financial institution which employed the BSC three time before it achieved successful use.
The authors judge that the way in which the BSC is employed is critical to successful outcome, and distinguish between measurement-focused and strategy-focused uses. Improvement in company performance is not automatic, and depends primarily on clear alignment with corporate strategy – a mechanistic application emphasising measurement may even decrease performance. The article concludes with more specific managerial implications for optimising BSC implementation, including the need to gain backing for the process from top management down, and for a proactive stance and fine-tuning to ensure the process continues to serve strategic needs.



Val Singh and Sébastien Point Strategic Responses to the Human Resource Diversity Challenge: An On-Line European Top Company Comparison v.singh@cranfield.ac.uk

Diversity management is a rethinking and reframing of equality management. It has particular significance in Europe with its increasingly diverse populations, homogenous leaders and aging workforce. Corporate websites are often the first point of call for prospective recruits, partners and investors. This study investigates the web-based promotion of ‘diversity’ by 241 leading companies in eight European countries. The paper focuses particularly on the drivers, the strategic responses to the diversity challenge, and the stages of diversity management. Results indicate large differences in espoused diversity strategies and drivers for change across Europe, with UK companies promoting diversity management most vigorously.

 


Alexandros Papalexandris, George Ioannou & Gregory Prastacos A Report on the Experience from Implementing the Balanced Scorecard in Greece ioannou@aueb.gr

The Balanced Scorecard is a relatively new approach to strategic management and performance measurement, especially in Greece, an economy in transition. This paper describes the implementation of the Balanced Scorecard in a Greek software development company. The seven phases of the project are described: preparation; identification of the strategy; prioritisation of objectives; selection of measures; target setting; development of strategic initiatives; and formulation of the implementation plan. All phases of the implementation were successfully completed within three months and quarterly meetings assessed its effectiveness. The results were favourable and the company achieved most targets in the leading performance indicators.

 

 

This issue is available in full on-line at www.sciencedirect.com



 

 
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