A study of the human resources policies of accountancy firms in Hong Kong in responding to the labour shortage

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A study of the human resources policies of accountancy firms in Hong Kong in responding to the labour shortage


Author: Li, Shun-yin
Title: A study of the human resources policies of accountancy firms in Hong Kong in responding to the labour shortage
Degree: M.B.A.
Year: 1996
Subject: Accounting firms -- China -- Hong Kong -- Personnel management
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Management
Pages: v, 83 leaves ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1240501
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/3814
Abstract: In the 1990s, the society is facing a demographic change in the labour market with labour shortage and changes in the age and sex composition. Although the economic recession in Hong Kong in the early 1990s caused a slowing of the growth in the financial service sector, labour turnover in the accountancy field still seems to be the order of the day. Companies have different responses to this problem, either tactical or strategic, in order to sustain their effectiveness. This report describes and explains the pattern of responses of accountancy employers to labour shortage and turnover, analysing this pattern in terms of key theoretical models. Ten accountancy firms were interviewed and the findings were that the larger the firm, the more resources they have in formulating more strategic human resources plans. Large firms can be more responsive to the turnover problem with its well planned human resources policies. Furthermore, large firms are more able to use more constrained instruments such as re-organizing and redesigning job structures and nature, re-classifying the entry-level or changing the promotion pattern, which require the matching of organization structure and decision processes with the policies. Small firms, however, are more dependent on external market supply and tend to use the less costly and less constrained instruments, such as expanding the staff's effort through working overtime, sub-contracting or hiring part-time staff, or even lowering hiring standards. It appears that they are, to some extent, in a dependent relationship with the large firms, relying on the latter for a supply of well-trained staff. The high-pay policy thus allows the small firms to effectively "poach" staff. These less constrained instruments are mainly tactical in nature in which the firms can solve the labour problems within a shorter period of time. The more constrained instruments are mostly strategic in nature, more costly and the effects of which could not be seen immediately. Therefore, firms incline to use the less constrained instruments unless these instruments no longer solve their problems. Given the above points, the small firms show few signs of adopting the more strategic approach. However, the project concludes by arguing that firms should use those more constrained instruments so that they can be more responsive and be prepared for the changes in the labour market and also in the overall business environment.

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