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OS 554 - Special Topics in Human Resource Management
Spring 2005


Instructor: Dr. Sandy Fisher
Office: 375 Snell Hall
Phone: 268-6430
E-mail address:
Course web site:
Class:  Mon./Wed. 4:00 - 5:15, 112 Snell Hall     
Office Hours:  Tuesday 1:00-3:00, Wednesday 9:30 - 11:30, and by appointment

Course Overview
This course is intended to provide you with an opportunity to learn about human resource systems from the ground up - how they are planned, developed, and implemented.  We will be taking a hands-on approach to learning much more about concepts such as job analysis, selection tests, performance appraisal tools, and compensation.  We will also spend significant time thinking about issues associated with implementation and stakeholder buy-in. 

This is an upper level, advanced course, and will be conducted as a seminar.  This means that each of you will be expected to contribute to class discussion on a regular basis.  Most days I will not be lecturing - I will be facilitating discussions.  You are expected to prepare for class every time. This means do the readings, think about the issues, and be prepared to contribute. 
Course Objectives
By the end of this course, you should be able to:


Course Materials
We will be using one required textbook in this course:

We will also have a set of readings taken from recent publications in human resource magazines and journals.  For your convenience, these readings can be purchased electronically from  The entire electronic course pack costs $19.70, and a printed copy can be purchased for $26.70.  For those with more available time than money, most of the readings can also obtained electronically on ABI Inform or through the library's full text electronic journals. A complete list of readings can be found at the end of the syllabus.   

As needed, PowerPoint slides for class will be posted on the course website. Feel free to print these before each class. The slides used in class may vary somewhat from those posted on the website.  Ultimately, you are responsible for content covered in class.

Office Hours, Appointments, and E-mail
I encourage you to come to my office hours to ask questions, clarify assignments, or obtain additional help as needed. If you cannot attend my posted office hours, please set up an appointment. The best way to reach me is generally e-mail (I check my email several times a day, including most weekends).

You are responsible for providing me with an e-mail address where I can reach you, and for checking that email account on a regular basis (at least a couple of times a week).  I will use your Clarkson e-mail address unless you provide me with an alternate address.

Academic Integrity
I treat academic integrity issues very seriously.  All students are expected to be familiar with and follow the Clarkson University Code of Ethics and Code of Student Conduct. Academic dishonesty in any form will not be tolerated, including plagiarism in written work (see the library's definition of plagiarism . also has an excellent discussion of plagiarism).  The most common problem I have seen in this regard is a failure to adequately cite sources in papers.  If you have questions about the expectations regarding academic integrity, please come talk to me. 

Performance Evaluation and Grading Scale
You will have the opportunity to demonstrate your learning in this course in several different ways. 

Cases (3 out of 4) 30 points (10 points each)
Group project proposal 5 points
Group job analysis report 15 points
Group Presentation 25 points
Client role-play 10 points


15 points

TOTAL 100 points


Final grades will be assigned as follows:
















below 60% 

Please keep track of your own grades throughout the semester.  You can determine your standing in the course at any time using the grading scale.  Final grades will be assigned based on the number of points earned throughout the semester. There will be no curve. Grades are not negotiable. The only reason I would make a grade change is if I make an error in recording your grade. It's probably a good idea to save your returned assignments until after you receive your final course grade.

Over the course of the semester, four cases/activities will be assigned.  These cases are intended to help you practice using class concepts and explore certain issues in greater depth.  You will be expected to answer the case questions thoroughly, using concepts from readings and discussions.  In each case, you are also expected to cite at least one external source to support your opinions.  This external source should not be any of the assigned readings for class - I expect you to conduct some research while preparing these cases. Naturally, you will also be expected to cite your sources in APA style.  Scores on three of the cases will count at the end of the semester, so you may choose to skip one of the cases or you may drop your lowest case grade. 

Case assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day noted in your course schedule.  Late assignments will not be accepted. Cases must be word processed and double-spaced, and must be your own work.  We will discuss cases in class on that day, so you may wish to bring another copy of your submission to use during discussions.  Regardless of whether or not you have prepared a case for submission, you will be expected to participate in the discussion, so make sure you have at least read the case and considered the issues.  

Group Project (45 points: 5 for proposal, 15 for job analysis report, 25 for presentation)
This project is intended to provide you with an opportunity to synthesize the content of this course, and get some hands-on experience with course concepts. You will be part of a team that will conduct a job analysis for a job of your choice, and then develop and propose a selection system, performance management system, or compensation system for that job. Your final deliverable should include a plan for implementing the new system (although the organization does not have to actually implement your system!).

This project will be a multi-step process. A basic outline is presented below.  More information will be made available during the semester, and will be posted on my website.

Step 1:  Form teams.  Teams will have 3-4 members.  You may form your own teams.  You should, however, form teams quickly, as project proposals are due on January 31st.  Due to the size of the class there will only be five teams.

Step 2:  Develop proposals. Project proposals are due on Monday, January 31. Your proposal must consist of an overall project outline, including the job you will be analyzing (you must have permission from the organization at this point), your initial plan for conducting the job analysis, and a tentative project plan for completing the work.  At this point you should also determine which system you will be developing, as this will impact your job analysis procedure.  Your proposal should be approximately 2 pages long, and must be word processed.  

Step 3:  Conduct the job analysis and prepare the job analysis report.  The job analysis report will serve as an interim product to help ensure you are on the right track and have the information you need to develop the HR system.  This report is due on Wednesday March 2.  This report should describe the job analysis procedure used and document the results of the job analysis.

Step 4:  Develop the HR System.  Based on your job analysis results and the client assessment you have conducted, you will develop the HR system you have selected.  The system should include both tools and processes for using those tools.  During this step, be sure to pay attention to validation of the system (i.e., how would you validate the selection tests or performance criteria?).

Step 5:  Present your work to the client.  The last three class periods will be devoted to project presentations.  Each team will present its results and recommendations, including an implementation plan, to another team which will be acting as the client.  Each presenting team must submit a client background sheet to the client team to help them prepare for their part of the presentation. You must be present in class on the day your team presents. If you are not present, you will receive a zero for the assignment!!!  Presentations are expected to last approximately 30 minutes, with 5-10 minutes for questions and discussion.

Client teams will be expected to develop a list of criteria for the proposed system based on the presenting team's proposal and client background sheet.  Scores for the client team members will be assigned based on the quality of that list, as well as questions posed during and after the client presentation.  

I understand the challenges that can arise with team projects. However, given the level of this course, I expect these challenges to be minimal. Should difficulties arise among team members, please come talk to me.  Team members will evaluate one another at the end of the course, and these evaluations will affect your project grade.

Participation (15 points)
Your participation is essential to the success of this class, especially because it is a small seminar. I define participation as more than attending class and asking an occasional question. Full participation consists of demonstrating that you are prepared for class (i.e., that you have read the assignment, completed individual assessments as assigned, and thought about the issues raised), asking thoughtful questions, responding respectfully to your peers, and engaging productively in all class exercises (including in-class writing exercises and group discussions). Note that "talking" is not the same as "participating." In fact, excessive talking without offering useful ideas or perspectives may be considered disruptive. 

In-class writing may be done periodically to give you the opportunity to think through issues related to the topic and demonstrate your level of preparation.  These will count as part of your participation grade.  In-class writing will be graded as follows:

My plan is to arrange two field trips over the course of the semester.  It would be great if each of you could attend both field trips, but participation in at least one field trip will be part of your grade.

I will not directly keep track of your attendance. However, you cannot participate if you are not in class. Therefore, it is clearly in your best interests to attend class. Participation opportunities missed due to absences or registering after the beginning of classes cannot be made up. In-class writing assignments must be completed during the class period assigned, and will not be accepted outside of class. 

Demonstrates consistently poor attendance and consistently poor preparation; may be disruptive in class and hinder the learning of others; consistently fails to participate in class activities including field trips.
Demonstrates inconsistent attendance/timeliness/preparation in class activities including field trips; may be disruptive in class; is frequently not prepared.
Demonstrates consistent attendance and preparation; occasionally participates in class discussions, and regularly participates in other class activities including field trips.
Demonstrates consistent attendance, preparation, and participation in all class activities and discussions (including field trips); occasionally demonstrates insight by asking questions or making statements that add to and facilitate the class discussion.
Demonstrates consistent attendance, preparation, and participation in all class activities and discussions (including field trips); consistently demonstrates insight by asking questions, making statements that add to and facilitate the class discussion, or building upon others' comments.

Course Readings (these are referenced in the course schedule by author's last name)

Bates, S. (2003). Forced rankling. HR Magazine, 48(6), 63-68.

Bracken, D. W. (1994 September). Straight talk about multi-rater feedback. Training and Development, 44-51.

Colvin, G.  (2001, August 13). Changing of the guard. Fortune, 143, p. 84.

Garvey, C. (2002). Steer teams with the right pay. HR Magazine, 47(5).

Harris, M. (1998 October). Competency modeling: Viagraized job analysis or impotent imposter?  The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist (online version).  Available at

Holly, T.M. (2003 July). A hire standard. HRMagazine, 48(7).

Kotter (1995 March-April). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. Harvard Business Review, 59-67.

Martin, D.C., & Bartol, K.M. (1998). Performance Appraisal: Maintaining system effectiveness.  Public Personnel Management, 27(2), 223-230.

Risher, H. (Nov/Dec 2002). Planning a "next generation" salary system. Compensation and Benefits Review, 34, 13-24.

Sturman, M.C. (2003). Utility analysis: A tool for quantifying the value of hospitality human resource interventions. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 44(2), 106-116.

U.S. Department of Labor (2000). Testing and assessment: An employer's guide to good practices. Available at