Title: Conceptualising HR systems as object-oriented activity systems

Authors: Mohamed Omar Mohamud

Addresses: Kuwait-Maastricht Business School, P.O. Box 9678 Salmiya 22097, Kuwait

Abstract: The notion that human capital is a key factor in the performance of organisations is now oft-repeated and widely accepted. As a consequence, Human Resource (HR) systems are increasingly being focused on as subjects of analysis among researchers and practitioners alike. Whether discussing traditional HR systems or IT-mediated ones, existing mainstream studies depict various themes that resonate amongst them. These themes revolve around a number of issues: disharmony between the wider organisational strategies and individual-oriented and operational HR systems, the tension between IT and HR professionals in implementing technology-based HR systems, and the quest for stability in an environment of prevalent ambiguities. Using Activity Theory as an analytical and interpretive framework, this paper conceptualises HR systems as object-oriented human activity systems. It is argued that recasting HR systems through the lens of Activity Theory helps bridge apparent gaps in the mainstream analysis. Theoretical constructs that could potentially complement mainstream approaches are suggested and explained. These include the idea that activity systems consist of complex relationships and connections and an acknowledgement that tensions and contradictions are integral parts of human activities, which ought to be seen as opportunities for development and change.

Keywords: HR systems; activity theory; organisational competences; activity systems; human resources; object-oriented human activities.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBIS.2010.030630

International Journal of Business Information Systems, 2010 Vol.5 No.2, pp.198 - 210

Published online: 27 Dec 2009 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article