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This dissertation examined three main research questions: (1) To what extent are there skill problems in the Thai banking industry and what explains these problems?; (2) How do banks solve these skill problems?; (3) Why is there variation in firm-level human resources (HR) strategies among banks in Thailand? The paper applied a qualitative research design consisting of two sequential phases. Phase I involved 77 interviews with key informants to explore the changing nature of the Thai banking industry and examine skill problems that may inhibit the development of this industry. Phase II examined four case studies of banks to analyze their HR strategies and practices (an internal versus external labor market strategy) in a variety of dimensions including job definition, recruitment and selection, training, mobility patterns, pay, and job security among three main occupational groups: relationship managers, branch managers, and product managers. This aided in establishing a foundation to understand the key independent variables that might play a role in the variation in HR strategies and practices among these banks. This phase consisted of 47 interviews with these three groups of managers. This dissertation has three main findings. First, the transformation in the Thai banking industry brought about by the Asian financial crisis has led to important and contradictory changes in the skill requirements of managerial and professional jobs. On the one hand, a change in business strategy – shift of focus from loans and deposits to fee income – has led to a deskilling of entry level jobs in relationship and branch management. Jobs previously designed to develop client relationships are increasingly focused on high-pressure sales and located in call centers with intensive monitoring and performance management systems. On the other hand, changes in regulations following the crisis and advances in information technology have led to an upskilling of product management job requirements, with greater demand for technical and specialty skills. This deskilling and upskilling of jobs has exacerbated the problem of skill shortages among the three groups of managers. Second, given the two types of skill problems, banks should in theory rely on an internal labor market strategy to solve these problems. In reality, however, there is variation among banks in their firm-level HR strategies. Some banks have retained their internal labor market systems, whereas other banks have adopted an external labor market strategy or a mixed ‘hybrid’ approach. Third, institutional legacies and ownership structures of banks play a role in explaining this variation. Findings contribute to an institutional perspective on strategic human resource management (HRM) by demonstrating how the national skill formation system and firm-level antecedents, particularly institutional legacies, shape firm-level HR strategies and practices. In particular, this research focuses on demonstrating why firms, located in the same industry and country contexts, do not converge towards similar models of employment practices.

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Management; Banking Industry; External Labor Market; Human Resource Management; Internal Labor Market; Qualitative Research; Skill Problems; Banking; Labor relations


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Batt, Rosemary

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Kuruvilla, Sarosh C
Burton, Mary Diane

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Industrial and Labor Relations

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Ph. D., Industrial and Labor Relations

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


dissertation or thesis

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