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Strategies against competency obsolescence: the case of R&D-intensive organisations

Wolfgang H. Guttel, Stefan Konlechner, Florian Kohlbacher and Beate Haltmeyer

International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, 2009, vol. 9, issue 2/3, 124-148

Abstract: The consequences of demographic change for firms are increasingly discussed in both academia and industry. However, empirical findings indicate that the correlation between an employee's age and performance is nearly insignificant. What matters most is the currency of employees' competencies. The Human Resources Management (HRM) literature offers suggestions about 'best practices' to keep competencies up to date. In this paper, we present empirical results from R&D-intensive organisations (non-university research). Based on qualitative empirical data, we identified configuration types that perform different strategies for keeping employees' competencies up to date. The differences result from the relation of an organisation's environment to its internal learning dynamics. Consequently, the appropriateness of Human Resource (HR) strategies, measures and practices to keep competencies up to date depends on the configuration type. 'Best practices' in one configuration type can be 'worst practices' in another. We show which HR strategies, measures and practices are employed in different configuration types and how they shape the learning dynamics in various environments.

Keywords: obsolescence; ageing workforce; R&D-intensive organisations; exploration; exploitation; ambidexterity; research and development; demographic change; workforce demographics; human resources management; HRM; employee competencies; learning dynamics; human resource strategies. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ids:ijhrdm:v:9:y:2009:i:2/3:p:124-148