Handbook of Research on Comparative Human Resource Management
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Handbook of Research on Comparative Human Resource Management

Edited by Chris Brewster and Wolfgang Mayrhofer

This unique and path-breaking Handbook explores the issue of comparative Human Resource Management (HRM) and challenges the notion that there can be a ‘one best way’ to manage HRM.
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Chapter 19: HRM Practice and Scholarship: A North American Perspective

Susan E. Jackson, Randall S. Schuler, David Lepak and Ibraiz Tarique


Susan E. Jackson, Randall S. Schuler, David Lepak and Ibraiz Tarique Human resource management (HRM) in the United States and Canada, referred to here as the ‘North American’ perspective, has undergone dramatic change during the past 30 years.1 Beginning in the 1980s, the focus of North American businesses began shifting from domestic to multinational to global. With the support of new technologies, the speed at which business was conducted increased dramatically. With these changes came the realisation that competitive advantage could be seized and sustained through the wise utilisation of human resources (Gupta & Govindarajan, 2001; Kanter, 1983, 1994; Porter, 1980, 1985). Reflecting these trends, both the practice of HRM within organisations and its study within academia have evolved accordingly. Concurrently with these developments, business executives in some North American organisations began to view HRM professionals as potential business partners who should be involved in strategic decision making processes. Prior to the 1980s, an older ‘personnel’ model dominated in North America. Specialists who worked from a centralised department were responsible primarily for acquiring and motivating the firm’s employees, and doing so within specified legal and cost constraints. Increasingly, however, HRM professionals are viewed as ‘human capital’ asset experts whose efforts are directed at creating competitive advantages for the firm (Barney & Wright, 1998; Gupta & Govindarajan, 2001; Pfeffer, 1994, 1998; Schuler & Jackson, 2007; Schuler et al., 2001). In this chapter, we focus on the current state of North American HRM practice and scholarship in larger public and private sector organisations, while recognising that...

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