The relevance and sustainability of Investors in People

Smith, Simon M (2011) The relevance and sustainability of Investors in People. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Title: The relevance and sustainability of Investors in People.
Purpose: The purpose of this research project is to explore and challenge the relevance and sustainability of Investors in People (IIP) involvement and recognition within seven case studies.
Research design: Seven in-depth case studies combining thirty-eight semi-structured interviews are used to gather the appropriate insights.
Findings: In essence, it is the studied organizations themselves that generate what the Leitch Report describes as the “untapped and vast” potential of their employees, not IIP involvement or recognition. The data collected challenges the direct relationship frequently proposed between IIP recognition and increases in business performance. The sample organizations have delivered performance improvements and success independently of IIP consideration, raising serious questions over the relevance and sustainability of the standard. These insights are supported by the lack of knowledge and understanding of the standard within the workforce. In addition, other quality improvement tools and techniques and industry standards are found to have a significant detrimental influence on the standing of IIP. Other influences are also found to impact negatively on the standing. Thus, this research project questions what contribution IIP can make towards national competitiveness when the standard is so withdrawn from the business performance improvements integrated. Even as a badge or plaque of external recognition, the assumptions surrounding the perceptual value of IIP are questioned when the impact of the standard’s logo/ symbols is considered to be nominal. A theoretical framework and alternative definition for IIP are developed to represent the findings within the seven organizations studied.
Research limitations: Research is needed beyond the case samples studied to further explore and generalize the rhetoric and realities concerning the insights developed.
Practical implications: HR practitioners and managers need to exhibit caution before considering IIP involvement and recognition. Indeed, practitioners need to consider that the asserted benefits associated with IIP may not match their expectations and provide the impact they seek.
Originality/value: This research project provides HR practitioners and managers with a valuable and timely alternative discourse and perspective when considering employee development towards IIP recognition and the possibility of improved business performance and customer/employee perceptual value. In addition, the theoretical exemplars developed from the data set provide visual representations that can be used as pragmatic comparisons to develop the field of IIP further.

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