Human Resource Management

Mrs. Jackson’s Dilemma

In the dilemma of Mrs. Clara Jackson, as presented by Fallon and McConnell (2007), the emergence of health care professions created a vacuum of administrative roles that, until this time, were haphazardly fulfilled by senior clinical staff. Mrs. Jackson, professionally torn between clinical and adminstrative roles, understood that one would suffer for the attention spent on the other. As this realization set in, Mrs. Jackson allowed non-clinical supervisors to hire employees; however, this tended to decentralize the function of personnel management. This ad hoc methodology would eventually prove detrimental as regulations and legal requirements become standard. Mrs. Jackson could enlist an assistant to help with these administartive roles, but an unprepared assistant would prove as detrimental as the decentralized process previously discussed.

Caldwell, Troung, Linh, and Tuan (2011) show that “reframing an organization’s internal environment [by implementing strategic human resource functions] results in significantly higher organizational outcomes and financial performance that is superior to what firms can attain by implementing individual human resource program elements piecemeal” (p. 172); therefore, reorganizing and restructuring the processes used to handle these administrative personnel issues would benefit the hospital better than the ad hoc use of senior clinical personnel, such as Mrs. Jackson (Fallon & McConnell, 2007), especially with workforce legislation circa 1930 (e.g. workmen’s compensation, Social Security, collective bargaining).

These issues, requiring a sense of increasing specialization and knowledge, helped to form the field of human resource management (HRM) as we understand it today. HRM strives to use a form of “ethical stewardship[,] … a philosophy of leadership and governance that optimizes long-term wealth creation and that honors duties owed to all stakeholders” (Caldwell, Troung, Linh, & Tuan, 2011, 178), to “help their organizations add value to the lives of individuals and organizations” (Caldwell, Troung, Linh, & Tuan, 2011, p. 177). This philosophy helps to gain “commitment from employees which is the key to long-term wealth creation” (Caldwell, Troung, Linh, & Tuan, 2011, 178). Using this philosophy of ethical stewardship, HRM managers would have enlisted the help of Mrs. Jackson to formulate a list of requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed to perform each clinical job and hire nurses based on these, while meeting the requirements of employment law and regulation, so as to free Mrs. Jackson to perform her senior clinical role unimpeded.


Caldwell, C., Truong, D. X., Linh, P. T., & Tuan, A. (2011). Strategic human resource management as ethical stewardship. Journal of Business Ethics, 98(1), 171–182. doi:10.1007/s10551-010-0541-y

Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Human resource management in health care: principles and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.