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Evaluate major theories relating to motivation, commitment and engagement at work and how these are put into practice by organisations

HRM7003 Managing the Human Resource

Date for Submission: Please refer to the timetable on iLearn

Assignment Brief

As part of the formal assessment for the programme you are required to submit a time constrained assignment. Please refer to your Student Handbook for full details of the programme assessment scheme and general information on preparing and submitting assignments.

Learning Outcomes:

After completing the module, you should be able to:

  1. Evaluate major theories relating to motivation, commitment and engagement at work and how these are put into practice by organisations.
  2. Critically discuss the aims and objectives of the HRM and HRD function in organisations and how these are met in practice.
  3. Assess the contribution made by HRM and HRD specialists in different types of organisation.
  4. Debate and critically evaluate the characteristics of effective leadership and the methods used to develop leaders in organisations.
  5. Promote professionalism and an ethical approach to HRM and HRD practice in organisations.
  6. Contribute to the promotion of flexible working and effective change management in organisations.
  7. Interpret financial information and manage financial resources.
  8. Critically evaluate business options, and the approaches used for evaluation.

LOs 1-6 are addressed in the TCA, LOs 7-8 are addressed in the individual presentation of analysis and recommendations assignment.

Your assignment should include: a title page containing your student number, the module name, the submission deadline and a word count; the appendices if relevant; and a reference list in the Harvard system. You should address all the elements of the assignment task listed below. Please note that tutors will use the assessment criteria set out below in assessing your work. Evaluate major theories relating to motivation, commitment and engagement at work and how these are put into practice by organisations

Maximum word count: 3,000 words

You must not include your name in your submission because Arden University operates anonymous marking, which means that markers should not be aware of the identity of the student. However, please do not forget to include your STU number.

Assignment Instructions


This assessment should take you no longer than 3-4 hours and can be completed at any point during 24-hour window. Please ensure you give yourself adequate time to upload your completed paper to Turnitin.

For further guidance on the TCA assessment please click on this link:


Answer all of Section 1.

Answer THREE questions in Section 2 (one per subsection). Read each question carefully before answering.

Write clearly and legibly.

Questions may be answered in any order.

Within Section 1 equal marks are allocated to each question (10 Marks). Within Section 2 equal marks are allocated to each question (20 Marks).

If a question includes reference to ‘your organisation’, this may be interpreted as covering any organisation with which you are familiar.

The case study is not based on an actual organisation. Any similarities to known organisations are coincidental.

Time Constrained Assessment

Section 1 – Case Study

Answer all questions in this section

Note: In your responses, you can improvise or add to the case study details provided below. However, the case study should not be changed or compromised  in any way.

Organizational Culture and Working Hours at W.L. Grace & Associates, Inc.


W.L. Grace & Associates, Inc. is a global, privately held company headquartered in Newark, Delaware. It employs approximately 8,000 employees (called associates) in more than 45 locations worldwide. Founded by a husband-and-wife team in 1958, its manufacturing operations are clustered in the U.S., Germany, Japan, China and Scotland. There are three sites in Scotland, two in Livingston and one in Dundee, employing approximately 450 people. Grace produces proprietary technologies with versatile polymer polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) used in products in the health care and leisure industries. It is especially known for products like GRACE-TEX® and ELIXIR strings. Grace is known not just for its innovative products, but also for its innovative business style (Grace’s written business objective is “To make money and have fun”). Grace strives to create a unique corporate culture. Evaluate major theories relating to motivation, commitment and engagement at work and how these are put into practice by organisations. Quite simply, the culture is driven, according to co-founder Bill Grace, from the need to “foster the creativity and initiative that contribute to technical development.”

Corporate Culture and Working Hours

The organizational culture is founded on a team-based environment where teams are organized around opportunities and leaders emerge. Teams are fluid and comprise followers and leaders. Employees, known as associates, have no defined job titles, only general task/responsibility areas. Leaders emerge naturally by demonstrating special knowledge, a skill and/or experience that will move the business objective forward. According to Ann Gillies, an associate in the HR team in Scotland, leaders are defined not by organizational status but by ‘followership’ because of “personal influence, not power”. The roles of leaders and followers are interchangeable by work projects. 

All associates have a sponsor, or mentor, assigned to guide them to “chart a course in the organization that will offer personal fulfilment while maximising their contribution to the enterprise.” In this way, associates can alternately—and simultaneously—be leader, follower and sponsor.

Enabling this corporate culture of teamwork is a commitment to four basic principles (as espoused by Bill Grace) that drive the organization’s activities:

  • Fairness to each other and everyone with whom they come into contact.
  • Freedom to encourage, help and allow other associates to grow in knowledge, skill and scope of responsibility.
  • The ability to make one’s own commitments and keep them.
  • Consultation with other associates before undertaking actions that could affect the reputation of the company by hitting it “below the waterline.”

It is the corporate culture based on the four fundamental principles that integrates and enables work-life balance at W.L. Grace. Gillies believes Grace operates fairly and that associates are not managed but instead manage themselves by being fair, meeting commitments and consulting others as appropriate. Consequently, there are very few company policies, procedures or rules; practices develop naturally and do not need to be framed in policies. There are no policies and procedures, therefore, that explicitly relate to work-life balance. However, the company’s approach to work-life balance can be seen in its approach to working hours.

Working hours, according to Gillies, are central to Grace’s approach. There are no set working hours; “people make commitments… they are never imposed, and people keep to their commitments.” Gillies continues, “Personal and family responsibilities are okay—people have no need to explain if they are not going to be at work but tend to anyway because we are fair to each other.” When commitments require staffing for specific hours, the team in that area decide individuals’ hours of work. Some people choose to work from home, and office attendance is recorded only for fire safety. Evaluate major theories relating to motivation, commitment and engagement at work and how these are put into practice by organisations. The need to work long hours can arise, as it did for one associate, Ben Stewart, currently a leader, when he was involved in a global project requiring him to spend large amounts of time in the U.S. When a change in his home circumstances arose, Stewart evaluated the time he spent travelling and reduced it significantly by using videoconferencing and conference calls. He adds that his sponsor also encouraged him to travel less, and to take time off to compensate when he does travel.


It is widely believed that Grace’s corporate culture which encourages a healthy work- life balance directly contributes to the award-winning success the company has long enjoyed. John Kennedy, a Grace leader and senior associate in Scotland in traditional, external business terms underlines this belief. He says, “Our culture and principles drive very high performance from individuals and teams, who are empowered and results-oriented with a strong ‘can-do’ attitude.”

Gillies acknowledges that “sometimes it feels like it would be easy and certainly quicker to direct, but in the long-term, we know that doesn’t work.” She is emphatic that “because we are not telling people what to do and when to be here, there is more chance work is going to be done better. Associates buy into what the company stands for, so the quality of input and decisions is better.”

For Stewart, one of the challenges facing associates is that it is “very easy to get caught up in the positive environment and find yourself over-committing.” To counteract this, he notes that “leaders, sponsors and associates need to understand each individual situation and act appropriately.” Kennedy supports this position: “It can be easy to get caught up in an environment of high energy and activity.” Grace’s approach to work-life balance contributes to its repeatedly being included in Fortune magazine’s best companies list


1. One argument that could be raised against the corporate culture adopted by the organisation is that it can be abused by the associates because there are no set work hours. Critically evaluate the key features of the organisation’s corporate philosophy that may prevent employees from taking advantage of there being no set work hours. (10 Marks) (LOs 2 & 6)

2. Critically evaluate the challenges the company may face in implementing the company’s unique approach to work-life balance internationally. (10 Marks) (LOs 2 & 6)

3. Critically evaluate the effectiveness of the current leadership style, management responsibilities and characteristics of leaders in the company. (10 Marks) (LO 7)

4. Recommend features of the company’s work-life balance that could be adopted by other organisations and key employability skills that need to be managed for successful implementation. Justify your answer by drawing key learning points from the organisation (10 Marks) (LOs 2 & 8)

It is recommended that you spend approximately one hour of your time on section 1. 

Section 2 

Answer THREE questions in this section, ONE per subsection A to C. You may include diagrams, flowcharts or bullet points to clarify and support your answers, so long as you provide an explanation of each.


1. ‘Business is global, Human Resource Management (HRM) is not’ claims the headline in a management journal. Using relevant examples where appropriate, critically evaluate how the practice of HRM has changed, or is likely to change, because of globalisation. (20 marks) (LOs 1 & 4)


2. Supporters of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) concept argue that ‘a business has responsibilities to society that extend beyond making a profit.’ Critically evaluate ways in which human resource management policy and practice can be adapted to benefit society. Provide examples where appropriate. (20 Marks) (LOs 1, 4)


1. One of the most widely cited and longest-established theories about human motivation at work is labelled `equity theory.` Critically evaluate the contribution of the equity theory to effective leadership of employee motivation at work. Explain how the theory might be used to underpin decision-making when a company is proposing a round of redundancies. (20 Marks) (LO 5)


2. Daniel Goleman argued that however determined, decisive and technically brilliant individuals are, they can never be truly successful leaders if they do not also possess a great deal of emotional intelligence. Drawing on your experience and research, critically discuss how emotional intelligence can contribute towards leading and influencing others more effectively. (20 Marks) (LO 5)


As discoveries in information technology continue to unfold, Mitsubishi UF Financial Group, is reported to have started trials with a humanoid robot called Nao to assist customer to find appropriate services. The robot analyses customer emotions from their facial expressions and tone of their voice and can speak 19 languages. Nestle Japan has also announced plans to use an emotional robot called Pepper to sell its coffee machines and explain Nestle’s products to customers (Hook and Foot, 2016, p. 18).

1. Critically evaluate the potential impacts of robots on HRM practices in your country or one with which you are familiar. What role will the robots play, and which jobs are most likely to be affected. (20 Marks) (LOs 3 & 4)


2. Using examples with which you are familiar, discuss how the increased use of information technology will affect the HR manager and line manager. (20 Marks) (LOs 3 & 4)

It is recommended that you spend approximately two hours of your time on section 2


You MUST underpin your analysis and evaluation of the key issues with appropriate and wide ranging academic research and ensure this is referenced using the Harvard system.

The My Study Skills Area on iLearn contains useful resources relating to referencing.

Additional notes:

Students are required to indicate the exact word count on the title page of the assessment.

The word count excludes the title page, tables, figures, diagrams, footnotes, reference list and appendices. Where assessment questions have been reprinted from the assessment brief these will also be excluded from the word count. ALL other printed words ARE included in the word count See ‘Word Count Policy’ on the homepage of this module for more information.

Submission Guidance

Assignments submitted late will not be accepted and will be marked as a 0% fail.

Your assessment should be submitted as a single Word (MS Word) or PDF file. For more information please see the “Guide to Submitting an Assignment” document available on the module page on iLearn.

You must ensure that the submitted assignment is all your own work and that all sources used are correctly attributed. Penalties apply to assignments which show evidence of academic unfair practice. (See the Student Handbook which is on the homepage of your module and also in the Induction Area)

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