Interview with Award-Winning Textbook Authors

Categories: Instruction, Other, Publishing, Writing and Editing

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In June and July MethodSpace will focus on research-oriented careers including career purpose and goals, skills, as well as expected and unexpected transitions. Find the unfolding series here

Logo for Textbook and Academic Authors Association

Human Resource Management: People, Data, and Analytics, 1st ed., by Talya Bauer, Berrin Erdogan, David Caughlin, and Donald Truxillo, won the Textbook and Academic Authors Association 2020 Most Promising New Textbook Award. As a TAA reviewer, I can say that it is a rigorous process. (Note: I was not a reviewer for this book.) Authors are tough reviewers!

Since many MethodSpace readers aspire to writing books, I wanted to learn more about the authors’ work. Also, given the topics covered in this book, I wanted to glean relevant tips for readers facing career disruption. The authors generously agreed to share insights in this interview.


JES. Congratulations on writing a winning book! What feedback did you receive from TAA reviewers? Or from readers or instructors who have adopted it?

The co-author team.

Authors. We were really honored to be nominated and to be recognized by TAA’s award committee for our new book with the 2020 Most Promising New Textbook Award which recognizes excellence in 1st edition textbooks and learning materials. Developing and writing a textbook takes years, and it is rewarding to see it recognized by our peers in this way. TAA is a great resource for authors, and we feel fortunate to be members of such a great organization.

We’ve heard from textbook adopters that our book is really helping them re-invigorate and modernize – and doing it seamlessly. We know that faculty and universities are all at different stages of readiness for change, and we wanted to write a book that would work for those who want to offer a more traditional course as well as those looking to infuse more data and analytics into their courses. Hearing that this approach is working for faculty and students is fantastic!

See Talya Bauer’s appreciation for the TAA book award.

JES. I was struck by the varied, useful features in this book. Can you comment on how and why you decided to include a media library and case studies? 

Authors. Case studies allow us to help bring the concepts to life for students and instructors. They allow for a common baseline of information that helps facilitate conversations among students with varied experiences and backgrounds. They are also a way to learn about best practices in action as well as mistakes that can be made when it comes to Human Resource Management. So including case studies was always our goal when we began writing the book – and each of us wrote the various cases which introduce the chapters.​ We also think that the media library that Sage developed to support our textbook is incredible. The library includes resources curated from multiple sources as well as media produced specifically for our book. We are very grateful that two organizations were willing to sit down for interviews and share their HR experiences, insights, and expertise with us and the team at SAGE. It is an exciting resource that we are using in our own classes, and students love it!

JES. Please discuss your focus on applied thinking and practical advice in  features such as the Manager’s Toolbox, HRmatters, and spotlights on relevant topics.

Authors. As an author team, we are trained in rigorous scholarship, and three of us have served as Editors and Associate Editors at top Human Resource Management journals. But we are also highly applied and seek to translate research into actionable advice. Given that, we are always trying new ways to connect students with the “real world”. We’ve found that having multiple examples and sets of features to highlight key points resonates well with students.

By having features like the Manager’s Toolbox and HR Matters, we are able to share bigger examples that stick with students as they learn about HR. We also really wanted to focus on Data and Analytics in our textbook so having Spotlights featuring these as well as the Ethics and ethical challenges and sensitivities was something that was very important to us. Moreover, the end-of-chapter hands-on Excel exercises provide students with an opportunity to “flex” their burgeoning HR analytics knowledge and skills by applying them to mock HR data.

One of the authors uses these exercises in an introductory HR course and has found students gain a realistic preview of (and appreciation for) the various decisions that must be made when managing, analyzing, and interpreting data-analytic findings in the HR context. Plus, the Excel exercises serve to demystify some mathematical and statistical concepts by incorporating them in a meaningful context for the students (i.e., HR).

Learn more:

Here is an example supplemental exercise, and you can download a a PPT that walks students through an Excel extension exercise. One of these is included for each chapter in the book. Log into https://edge.sagepub.com/bauer for student and faculty resources.

JES. Given the hands-on features, this book seems like more than a textbook to be used in an academic class. Tell us about your intended audience…do you also hope to reach professional readers who want to enter or advance in the HR field?

Authors. Our intended audience is for traditional programs in academic classes. The book works well for that from what we’ve experienced first-hand in the classroom and from feedback colleagues and book adopters have shared with us. Beyond that, it has been great to see the warm reception from the larger HR field as well. For example, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) included our textbook as one of 100 books approved for certification credit. We are the first HRM textbook to include a full chapter on Human Resource Information Systems and Data Management, and SHRM recognizes how important that is.

JES. Please discuss the research foundations for the book: how did you draw on scholarly or professional research and/or the literature? Were particular types (quantitative, qualitative) more useful than others?

Authors. As HR scholars, we drew upon bodies of knowledge and relied heavily on published research. Reading peer-reviewed journal articles, stacks and stacks of them, is how we begin outlining a chapter and filling in each section. We also rely most heavily on meta-analyses that summarize the full body of research. With that said, we also include individual paper findings as examples and to help highlight the breadth of knowledge and specific points. So, in the end, it is important to include all types of research. Qualitative papers can be powerful as well and when we find relevant articles, we draw upon and integrate those.

JES. This was a collaborative project. How did you work together? Did each take a section, work on it in stages, or?  

Authors. As a four-person author team, it was important for us to work together closely on our goals, chapter structures, and voice. Each of us took the lead on a number of chapters, but every single one of us read and re-read every chapter providing feedback, asking questions, and working on polishing our voice into one. Each of us approaches the writing process a bit differently. But by the time we shared chapter drafts with one another, they were fairly complete and used the same voice. It was a highly collaborative project, and I don’t think readers would be able to guess which of us was the lead author on each chapter given how much we all worked on every one.

JES. Given your expertise in HR, what advice for new grads who are job-hunters and for career changers hoping to enter a new field?

Authors. Given everything going on in the world today, this is one of the toughest times I have ever seen for new graduates looking for work. There’s a great deal of uncertainty. One thing that we suggest to all students as well as new graduates is to focus on informational interviews. Information interviews are a great way to learn more about what you might like to do, what types of opportunities exist, and to tap into new networks and opportunities.

A majority of job opportunities are never formally advertised, and engaging in informational interviews allows students to tap into the “hidden” job market. Given how many people are still sheltering in place and working from home or between opportunities, there may be even more availability and willingness in general to engage with recent graduates because everyone knows how challenging things are for them.

JES. Anything else you would like to add?

Authors. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about the book and share our insights.

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