Background of the Study
The human resource management function in organizations has gained increasing strategic emphasis, and the importance of its alignment and business strategies is well-acknowledge. Snell, Stueber, and Lepak (2002:81) observe that “strategic human resource management can meet the challenge of simultaneously becoming more strategic, flexible, cost-efficient, and customer-oriented by leveraging information and communication technology”. One of the impacts of information and communication technology is that it enables the creation of an information-based workplace, which leads to what should be a manager’s top priority.
Advances in information and communication technology hold the pro-management information system of meeting many of the challenges of human resource management, such as attracting, retaining, and motivating employees, meeting the demands for a more strategic human resource function, and managing the human element of technological change in the future. Human resource management could support the efforts of technological innovation to achieve high performance while such innovation could serve as an approach to enable the human resource function to focus more on value-added activities in order to realize the full potential of technology and organizational strategy. The biggest benefit of using information and communication technology in human resource management to organizations is the freeing of human resource staff from intermediary roles, thus enabling them to concentrate on strategic planning in human resource organization and development. Caudron (2003:79) has also observed that “information and communication technology can automate other routine tasks such as payroll processing, benefits administration, and transactional activities, so that human resource professional are free to focus on more strategic matters.
However, Modern economic growth and development efforts are interlocked with strategic human capacity building/utilization activities. Despite the abundance of natural resources, our national economy is dominated by labour intensive, low value-adding technologies in a mono-product fueled economic setting. The twenty first century world is anchored on a highly competitive globalized economy best described as information-rich; knowledge-based; science, technology, and innovation-driven; and predominantly private sector-led. This calls for an integration of science, technology and innovation-driven, value-adding research and development activities into our nation’s development efforts. In some cases, the conducting of fundamental research in areas of comparative national advantage would become necessary.
Information and communication technologies are just as essential for modern society as electricity and water networks. Modern every day life would be utterly unthinkable without information and communication technologies. Information Communication Technology is a key technology and an interdisciplinary technology; it helps enterprises to reduce costs, improve processes, boost innovation, and increase productivity. ICT also makes the public sector learner, faster and more citizen-friendly.
Therefore, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has proved to be a catalyst to fundamental changes in the world’s economies and societies by creating more avenues to earn income, allows access to useful information, enhance the world of work and makes the world a global village. The information technology industry spans broadcast, electronics and print media, computers, human resources management, telecommunications and e-commerce activities. David (2006) opined that the recognition of the pivotal role of Information Technology (IT) for development became eminent in Nigeria with the formulation and approval of the National Information Technology (IT) Policy in March, 2001. The formulation of the IT policy was a consultative process that brought together major IT stakeholders such as Computer Association of Nigeria (COAN) now known as Computer society of Nigeria, National Information Technology Professional Association (NITPA), and Association of Licensed Telecommunication Companies in Nigeria (ALTCON) as well as all Nigerians in the Diaspora. Broderick and Boudreau (2001) assert that IT policy has very clear-cut policy goals on the development of the national information backbone to engender seamless interconnectivity in ICT infrastructure development and human resource management has grown considerably in recent years.
Leading management thinkers suggested that, “It is not technology, but the art of human and humane management” that is continuing challenge for executives in the 21st century (Drucker, Dyson, Handy, Saffo, & Senge, 1997). Similarly, Smith & Kelly (1997) believed that future economic and strategic advantage will rest with the organizations that can most effectively attract, develop, and retain diverse group of the best and the brightest human talent in the market place. Many HR (human resource) executives and managers are so busy taking care of their daily duties, which are generally administrative, that they neglect to consider important issues that are coming down the road. This is a trap that any department can fall into, but it can be especially devastating for Human Resource, which must battle decades of preconceived notions about the department’s ability to contribute to corporate planning. Thus, today with an increase in the number of organizations, Human Resource is now viewed as a source of competitive advantage (Michael et al., 2012). It is necessary for organizations to have highly skilled human capital to provide them with a competitive edge. So, an effective management of Human Resource is to gain advantage which requires timely and accurate information on current employees and potential employees in the labor market. With the changing world and evolution of new technology, meeting this information requirement becomes important. Human Resource managers need to be aware that the change in technology will not only increase the quality of employee information, but also will have a strong effect on the overall effectiveness of the organization, Shammy Shiri (2012). It’s against this background that the study seeks to examines with focus on Akwa Ibom Civil Service Commission the role of information technology in human resources management.
Statement of the Research problem.
Over the years, many authors have written on information and communication technology and strategic human resource management. According to Stone (1995:4) “Human Resource Management has as its central focus, managing people within the employer-employee relationship’ and involves marshalling the productive capacity of an organization’s members”. Furthermore, Wright and Ferris (1996) add the human resource management is concerned with employment and employment relations. In addition, however, effective Human Resource Management is argued to deliver competitive advantage to firms (Walker, 1992). The ability to achieve this advantage in a rapidly changing and dynamic environment has further extended the focus of human resource management to include developing organizational capacity to adapt to changing environmental contingencies (Wright and Snell, 1998). In this way, the effective deployment and management of people within organizations is purported to be a powerful tool to respond to complex and turbulent environments and achieve superior organizational outcomes.
More so, Martin et al (2009) opined that the use of ICT can establish more virtual customer relationships within the organization thus enabling it to provide strategic value while Wachira (2010) conclude that human resource management in Africa should be concerned with application of internet and web based systems and increasing mobile technologies to change the nature of interactions among HR staff, line managers and employees.
One of the most salient factors impacting organizations and employees today is technological change and advancement (e.g., computer-supported supplemental work-at-home, Duxbury, Higgins, & Thomas, 1996; overall labor changes, Rothman, 2000; organizational structure, Scott, 1990; organization of work, Van der Spiegel, 1995). In particular, the prominence of information technology (IT) has grown substantially in recent years. Sharyn D. et al. (2003). It has been scientology proven that one of the supporting pillars which can contribute to the fulfillment of the personal policy is the usage of IT technologies in Human Resource. Seyni Mamoudou, et al., (2014). Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) – a catchall term for techniques associated with mobile communication, internet, new media and PCs – allow companies to improve their internal processes, core competencies, organizational structures as well as relevant markets on a global scale. Information Communication Technology is spreading throughout every sector of the economy and has implications for almost every enterprise (Helfen & Krüger, 2002).The Akwa Ibom state government civil service like their counterpart in other state key into application of technology in human resources management. In the past administration, information communication technology became the hallmark of human resources management through the civil service commission. However the extent to which the application of information communication affected human resources in the state civil service is a subject of varying opinion. While some observed that the ITC application has little impact on human resources management, others believe that ICT have substantial impact on human resources management in the state. In this case there are mixed feeling about the impact of ICT in the area of human resources management, meanwhile, none of the authors has sufficiently link the nexus between Information Communication Technology Influence on Human Resources Management, thus this study basically seeks to examine the impact of the application of ICT on human resources management in the state with focus on the state civil service.