A Study of External Environmental Scanning for Strategic Human Resource Management in Public Park and Recreation Agencies


  • Kenneth R. Bartlett
  • William R. McKinney


Strategic human resource management, environmental scanning, external environment, human resource development, public park and recreation agencies.


This study explores the role of strategic human resource management (HRM) in response to external environmental change in public parks and recreation service organizations. This study uses an environmental scanning technique embedded within a framework drawing on strategic human resource management theory to identify changes occurring in the external environment. It also identifies the anticipated impact of these changes on the agency, their likely impact to human resource management, and potential organizational responses to plan and manage human resources in response to these identified changes. Data were collected from a stratified random sample of directors of public park and recreation agencies from Illinois. A total of 46 respondents (82% response rate) participated in the study. Results show a high level of agreement in the identification of future trends yet a lack of consistency in responses in light of these changes. Disagreement occurred on the impact of externally driven change on the number of full-time exempt employees and the need for the future employment of specialists as compared to the employment of human resources with generalized skills. Overall, the results of the study indicate that directors have not fully engaged in environmental scanning nor in systematic strategic HRM planning based on predicted changes in the external environment. This study highlights the need for park and recreation directors to concentrate efforts on developing planning frameworks applicable to public agencies for scanning the external environment and aligning human resources with predicted changes.





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