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Handbook of Research in International Human Resource Management

Edited by Günter K. Stahl and Ingmar Björkman

In providing an insightful overview of a wide range of global human resource issues facing MNCs, this pathbreaking Handbook highlights emergent topics and new research findings that could shape the field of future IHRM research. Theoretical discussion of the variables and processes that affect IHRM policies and practices is provided by renowned contributors with widely differing academic backgrounds, paradigmatic orientations, and theoretical and methodological approaches.
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Chapter 4: The Human Resource Department: Roles, Coordination and Influence

Philip Stiles and Jonathan Trevor


4 The human resource department: roles, coordination and influence Philip Stiles and Jonathan Trevor There have been many predictions for the future role of the HR department, its role, function and size. The predominant tenor of such calls has been for the HR function to be more strategic and to create value within organizations (Beatty & Schneider, 1997; Beer, 1997; Bennett et al., 1998; Pfeffer, 1994; Ulrich, 1997). HR functions have traditionally come under fire because of their perceived unresponsiveness, their administrative rather than strategic focus and their perceived nature as cost centres rather than wealth creation centres (Truss et al., 2002). In the face of growing internationalization of organizations, the HR function is seen to be a key subunit in the development of capability and the coordination of practice (Ferner, 1997). But, as Pucik (1997: 321) argues, ‘paradoxically, in spite of the value adding opportunities for HR contribution to competitive advantage driven by the demands of business globalizations, in many companies today the HR function is still perceived not as a full partner in the globalization process’. The rise of the resource-based view of the firm and the development of human capital management have given cause for optimism about the future role of HR (Barney, 1991; Ulrich, 1997, 1998; Wright & McMahan, 1992) but, as Hunt and Boxall (1998: 770) argue, ‘the dominant view in the international literature is that HR specialists, senior or otherwise, are not typically key players in the development of corporate strategy’. A good deal...

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