Wladyslaw George Piskor.

Bibliographic survey of quantitative approaches to manpower planning online

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FEB 2G 1S76




W. George Piskor

WP 833-76

January 1976





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W. George Piskor

WP 833-76

January 1976

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A bibliographic survey of quantitative methods for national
industry/regional and particularly corporate manpower planning is
presented. After a brief review of issues and techniques at the
first two levels, quantitative approaches to corporate manpower
planning are examined: static and dynamic flow models, assignment
models, and elements of manpower information systems. Trends and
issues facing corporate manpower planning are considered. The paper
concludes with pointers to additional bibliographies.


This work was partially supported by Canada Council Scholarship
and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Scholarship Fund. The
assistance of Dr. W. L. Weber and Mr. J. Burke of the Canadian Public
Service (Treasury Board Secretariat, Manpower Division) and, in particular,
Dr. Charles A. Myers and Dr. Arnoldo C, Hax of the MIT Sloan School of
Management is gratefully acknowledged. The suggestions and comments of Dr.
C. Haehling von Lanzenauer are greatly appreciated. The responsibility for
the contents of the paper is solely that of the author.



1.0 Introduction 4

2.0 National Manpower Planning g

3.0 Industry /Regional Manpower Planning 12

4.0 Corporate Manpower Planning
4.1 General


4.2 Static Flow Models

4.3 Manpower Requirements Analysis 23

4.4 Dynamic Flow Models 24

4.5 Assignment Models 28

4.6 Manpower Information System 30

4.7 Trends and Issues 36

5.0 Summary 39


Fig. 1 Simple Economic Model

Fig. 2 Vetter Model of Manpower Planning Phases

Fig. 3 Purkiss' Model of Manpower Planning

Fig. 4 Picur's Manpower Information System

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Manpower planning is truly an interdisciplinary activity rooted
in such diverse fields as economics, psychology, law and public administra-
tion, industrial relations, computer science, and operations research.
Considering that most of the parental disciplines are themselves in a
tremendous state of flux, it should come as no surprise to find manpower
planning in a similar state, or more so. Judging by the vast body of
literature alone, it seems fair to say that during the last quarter cen-
tury manpower planning has started to emerge as a field in itself.

Although bibliographic reviews exist, their orientation is
largely towards the social sciences which have shown a great deal of
interest in this area. In recent years, however, an effort has been
underway to put manpower planning on a more quantitative footing. The
purpose of this paper is to attempt a bibliographic survey of quantitative
techniques and models in manpower planning - particulary at the corporate

This paper is unabashedly patterned on the earlier annotated
bibliography by Lewis (114) in the UK although its bias is towards the
North American continent. To give the reader a more comprehensive under-
standing of the scope of the field, the survey starts with an overview
of manpower planning at the national and industry/regional levels before
focusing on the corporate level.

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For those knowledgeable in the field, the summary contains
pointers to additional bibliographies as well as basic reference material
for the recent initiate.

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National manpower planning is the integral portion of macro-
economic planning which attempts to achieve maximum utilization of human
resources in terms of societal goals.

The formulation and expression of national goals and priorities
is one of the key areas of interest and responsibility of the political
system within a country. Although a common theme runs through the
national aspirations of all countries it goes without saying that they
diverge on many issues. In the USA, for example, the President's
Commission on National Goals issued the following list (103) with its
attendant implications for manpower needs (104): improved living stan-
dard, capital expansion with emphasis on transportation and utilities,
urban development, social welfare, health coverage, education, trans-
portation, national defense, research and development increases, inter-
national aid, space exploration, agriculture, manpower retraining, area
redevelopment to promote full employment in regionally depressed regions,
and development of natural resources.

The harnessing of the economy to attain desired aims requires
an understanding of the operation of the capitalistic system which is
presented in the simplified three sector closed economy of Fig. 1. The

See (15) for a discussion on social indicators and their measurement.

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interdependence of manpower planning and economics is illustrated in a
four sector economy of ref.l09which highlights three vertical feedback
loops considered in manpower economics: domestic output places pressure

on future demands of capital (k) and labour (1) for a given rate of

technological progress (r) ; industrial participation and mobility

affect wage and price levels; lack or obsolescence of skills necessitates

determination of education and training requirements funded by government

expenditures. Of particular importance to the manpower planner are the

demographic accounting variables constituting the whole population

(employed, unemployed, households, persons undergoing education and

training) as well as data on skill requirement, industrial mobility, and

productivity which form the basis of manpower statistics.

Manpower planning is historically rooted in the gathering of
manpower statistics dating from the times of the Roman census to the
accounting of slaves, and eventually to population censuses towards the
end of the eighteenth century (140). Thomas Matthews and Adolphe Quetelet
were early contributors to the establishment of labor economics as an
autonomous field in the following century. Indeed, Quetelet 's emphasis
on quantitative manpower analysis tends to qualify him as a founding
father of manpower planning. In this century, the U.K. emerged as one
of the chief proponents of effective manpower statistics and continues
as such today (235). In North America, the burgeoning interest in this


This is often expressed by the modified Cobb-Doublas function:

Y = Ae K L , where A is a constant, t is time, and B are elastici-
ties of capital and labor respectively, and r is the rate of technolo-
gical growth.

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field started to blossom after WW II (140, 148). The landmark passage
of the Employment Act in 1946 committing the nation to a policy of full
emplojonent tacitly legitimized manpower planning in the USA. Unfortunately,
an interlude of 15 years was to transpire before the lofty ideals therein
enunciated were to be recast into an "active" manpower policy through
various programs. Although somewhat of a latecomer to the field, the
importance of manpower planning and labor market information was de-
finitely established with the close of the 50s. Under the initial
modest aim of an "appraisal of employment and unemployment statistics",
the Gordon Report (140), issued in 1962, expanded into a comprehensive
stocktaking of manpower forecasts resulting in a reorientation of
philosophy from data collection to data utilization. In brief, the 50s
were a time of organization, the 60s experimented with diverse approaches,
and the 70s are a period of consolidation and integration of the lessons
learned (90, 112, 183).

Despite the tremendous impetus given by the Gordon Report the
methodology of manpower forecasting is far from concrete - even the

divisions of responsibilities between the public and private sectors is
undecided (218). The methodology focuses on the determination of "needs'
and "availability" - demand and supply within a suitably defined demo-
graphic framework (2, 109). The projection of manpower needs entails
development of occupational structure models incorporating multitudinous

factors relating to capital, technology, labor market characteristics,

and regional variation. Needs projections provide planners with: data


The Dictionary of Occupational Titles , published by US Dept. of Labor

has over 35,000 job titles. See (171) for a review of occupational


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for vocational guidance, scientific and technological qualification
requirements; trends in occupational growth or decline; specific fore-
casts in selected disciplines such as science and engineering, teachers,
and doctors. A central and unanswered issue in needs analysis is the
relationship between occupational demands and educational requirements.
Counterbalancing needs projection are availability models containing age,
sex and regional demographic projections. Reconciliation of these two
facets to provide an insight into the efficacy of labor force utilization
is complicated by a plethora of factors including labor market operations,
regional vagaries, and labor mobility within the three dimensional space
of industry, occupation, and education.

The descriptive and prescriptive models used at the national
level of planning may be categorized into three general groups (2):
policy conditional forecasts in which the value of the dependent variables
are contingent on the attainment of policy-oriented independent variables;
onlooker forecasts which extrapolate historical trends; and optimizing
forecasts which are driven by an objective function.

Morton (139) presents a concise historical summary of forecasting
techniques starting from demographers' modified exponentials through to
renewal theory, stochastic processes, moving averages and exponential
smoothing. In recent years there has been a swing away from demographi-
cally based forecasts towards econometric (188) and input/output models

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as well as Monte Carlo simulation. Moreover, recognition that long lead
times in manpower development makes planning particularly vulnerable to
changes in policy variables has stimulated research into "teleological"
or target-related forecasting in which the study of explicitly stated
achievable future goals is undertaken through futurist speculation or
expert concensus in order to restrict the range of the exogenous variables.

Mehmet (129) describes and evaluates seven methods of fore-
casting requirements by industry and occupation:

econometric method

- productivity method
trend projection method

- employer's survey method

- method of forecasting specialized manpower requirements
inter-area comparisons method

- elasticity of factor substitutions method.

Ahamad and Blaug (2) point out that manpower forecasting is
still in its infancy yielding crude and often useless results. All too
many models are still based on the woefully lacking fixed-coefficient
approach pioneered by Fames (149) utilizing productivity, education and
participation ratios. The predominantly demand-oriented approach, the
assumption that ratios are independent of technological growth, changes
in industry output and education standards, and the failure to accommo-
date substitution effects have contributed to making the models suspect
as serious undertakings.

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Recapltulaing the above, planning in various societies (108)
is an amalgamation of economics, educational planning (82, 182) and
labor market operations. As seen in ref. (90), the U.S.A. has made a
strong legislative commitment to it which is further reflected in the
programs of the Bureau of Labor Statistics shown in ref. (237). Although
far from successful, planners are cognizant of current limitations,
particularly with respect to decentralization of data to mirror local
phenomena (115) and lack of comprehensive labor market information for
planning and programming purposes (237). Excited by the possibilities
of advanced computer technology, the latter area has been receiving
considerable congressional interest of late. In the meanwhile, the area
of human resource accounting (66, 234, 191, 236) is gathering momentum
in the background in anticipation of its applicability to Manpower


See (122, 123, 229) for a selected bibliography on Canada and the USA

and (1) for India.

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Industry/Regional manpower planning falls in the middle ground
between national and corporate planning (238) and, quite naturally,
shares the problems of both. Industry-occupation statistics provide the
basis for investigation which naturally lead into education and training
requirements (82, 192). Indeed, educational modelling and planning has
developed as a specialty in its own right (7, 97). The Ford Foundation,
for example, has sponsored invited research in university administration
using techniques such as Markov analysis (10), decision analysis (216),
control theory (211), simulation (110), and mathematical programming
with multiattributed criteria (74). Sandell and Wallace (167) report a
goal programming formulation for student flow. Closely allied with edu-
cational planning is forecasting in particular professions (147) such as
engineering (100), teachers (71), civil aviation (196, 226), and medical
staff (214) . Liebhaf sky (115) provides insight into the issues of dis-
aggregated planning at the state level. Purkiss and Richardson describe
planning in the British Steel Industries (162) .

Of particular interest to regional planners is the availability
of comprehensive, accurate and timely labor market information. Although
a point of contention in the recent past, it seems generally agreed that
this is primarily a government responsibility (112) , particularly at
state level (194). During the latter 60s, several computerized job banks
and/or matching systems were Implemented (96, 140, 195, 237) by both
public and private enterprises:

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GRAD (Graduate Resume Accumulation and Distribution)
established by the College Placement Council
for university graduate placement;

IRIS (IBM Recruitment Information System);

- PICS (Personnel Information Communication System)

designed as commercially operated clearing-
house for professional, technical and administrative

- LINCS (USES Labor Inventory Communication System)

demonstration job-matching project;

NEA-SEARCH - teacher clearing-house for jobs;

ESOPS (Employment Service On-Line Placement System)

pilot project in Wisconsin for fully-integrated
computer-assisted placement system.

Labor market information systems are still in their infancy,
and experiencing serious growing pains, (127, 194). Nonetheless, a
sense of optimism justifiably prevails (96, 140, 195, 237) as development

As industry-regional manpower planning is inextricably interwoven
with national and corporate manpower planning, it suffices for purposes
of this paper to highlight some of the salient issues and to move on to
the planning at the level of the firm.

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4.1 General

Although it has just recently progressed past the nascent
stage, corporate manpower planning (16) is the most advanced area with
respect to the national and industry/regional perspectives. Signs of
its maturity are evidenced by the growing consensus of what constitutes
the field.

Broadly stated, manpower planning is the process to ensure
that the right people are at the right place at the right time in suffi-
cient numbers to efficiently accomplish anticipated tasks (208).
Wikstrom (227) subsumes four distinct activities which largely coincide
with the views of Cassell (34) :

- forecasting future requirements,

inventorying and analyzing current manpower resources,
anticipating manpower problems by determining quantitative
and qualitative discrepancies between needs and availabilities,
planning the necessary programs of recruitment, selection,
training, development, motivation and compensation so that
future manpower requirements will be met.

Walker (212) compresses this into two constituents:

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"Forecasting , the determination of organizational needs and
available manpower supply within the organization at various
times through forecasting; and Programming , the planning cf
activities which will result in the recruitment of new employees
for the organization, further development activities for
employees, designation of replacements for key managers, and
new expectations for effective top management planning."

He goes on to integrate the two basic elements in a time-
frame: short-range (0-2 years), intermediate-range (2-5 years), long-
range (5-10 years) . Burack (28) and Doerlnger et al (53) provide
broader perspectives. Even though many Issues are interrelated, man-
power planning, when viewed as a particular function in the personnel
system, can be seen to be in the realm of strategic and tactical planning
in contraposition to the more operational nature of personnel admini-
stration and management (158, 239). Geisler (73) discusses the dif-
ference at length and concludes:

"The manpower planning staff deals with people quantitatively,
not Individually. . .An exception. . .occurs in the case of,
critical skills allocation or corporate levies..."

Since men have worked in commercial groups for centuries it
seems reasonable to question the sudden Interest in manpower planning.
Cassel (34) attributes it largely to a shortage of manpower in a technolo-
gically complex, rapidly evolving society. In the context of the
British civil service. Smith (180) advocates efficiency through fore-
sight. Wlkstrom (227) identifies seven contributing factors:

^ See also (20A)

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- rapidity of technological change (22),

long lead time for training and development,

tight labor market,

demographic changes (e.g., lower birthrate during depression

produced decrease in 35-44 age group),

manpower coming to be viewed as critical corporate resource,

government influence through programs and contracts,

- manpower planning is becoming accepted as integral part of
corporate planning.

The last point only serves to attest to the complexity of
manpower planning as an integral component of corporate planning - a
vast and ill-defined field in its own right. As Lorange (118) comments
in his survey:

"I am left with the uncomfortable feeling that somehow it is
difficult to fit the bits and pieces together. There seems to
be considerable lack of consensus in the literature when it
comes to such central issues as the nature of planning systems,
what constitutes relevant empirical areas of research, etc.
Also, the common vocabulary seems to be surprisingly small and
too often lacks adequate definitions. The research design
frequently seems to be sloppy, particularly in neglecting to
state assumptions when limit the universality of the sample."

Geisler (73) cites manpower planning as an integral yet dis-
tinct aspect of corporate planning and Wikstrom (227) reports manpower
methodologies In several large corporations. From the vantage point of
Industrial Relations, the complexity can be summarized as consisting of

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the goals, values, and power of a firm competitively interlocked with
those of government, labor, and other private firms, all of which are
subjected to external environmental pressures of the economic, political,
legal, social, and ecological systems.

In an effort to abstract the complexities involved, various
conceptual models have been advanced. Vetter (208) proposed the four
phase model of fig. 2 consisting of strategic, tactical, operational and
evaluation feedback steps. Walker (213) suggests a two-dimensional
concept in which the forecasting, programming, and evaluation phases
evolve through four stages of successive complexity culminating in the
ultimate human resource system. Purkiss (181) presents a feedback flow
model in Fig. 3 which is generally valid outside its original context in
the UK steel industry. Picur's (157) model in Fig. 4 is an expansion of
Cassel's (33) framework to include the housekeeping function as an inte-
gral component of a manpower information system. Patten (150) puts
forth a more seminal model.

Even a cursory perusal through the literature will rapidly
convince the novice that any aspirations regarding corporate manpower
planning systems are largely predicated on the existence of computer-
oriented firms with at least a manual personnel data system (58, 173).
Indeed, the field can be viewed as embracing information systems,
management participation, and mathematical modelling - largely represented
by the disciplines of computer science, organization theory, behavioral
science, and operations research. As it is the intent of this paper to
restrict itself to a consideration of the latter only, only the briefest
mention will be made of the other two aspects.











































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Black (18), Morgan (137), and Weatherbee (215) cover basic EDP
aspects. Carter (32) indicates the heavy commitments of the Armed
Forces to EDP which, in point of fact, have the most extensive and
sophisticated systems in existence (119, 144). Finally, the OECD has
completed a study of personnel information systems in six European
countries (8). A representative computerized personnel record is
formulated in (228) and Ficarra (64) records issues in the design of
data bases. Finally, Picur (157) provides a comprehensive treatment of
a "core requirements" manpower information system shown in Fig. 4 and
suggests the "Personnel Rapid Access Management Information System" as
the most sophisticated one commercially available (156), although most
corporations and government institutions currently prefer to develop
their own.

On the management side, Mackenzie (120) reviews organization
theories in bureaucracy and Likert indicates changing group relationships
in organizations (116) while Wilson (230) specifically examines the
relationship between organization theory and manpower planning. The
tremendous influence of sociology and psychology (170) can be seen in
almost any book on personnel administration (158, 239), particularly in
the areas of personnel testing (4) and performance appraisal (27, 77).

At this point it might be appropriate to comment on the extent
of manpower planning activities. Unfortunately, little work seems to
have been done in this regard. In a survey of Minnesota firms with over
500 employees, Heneman and Seltzer (85) discovered the following among
the 50 respondents:

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Online LibraryWladyslaw George PiskorBibliographic survey of quantitative approaches to manpower planning → online text (page 1 of 4)