Edited by Anthony J. Nyberg and Thomas P. Moliterno
Chapter 9: What are we isolating? Why human capital-based competitive advantage may not be so much about human capital
Starting from a traditional strategy perspective, we explore several common pathways through which firms can leverage isolating mechanisms to create and capture different types of rents from individuals’ human capital. Across the range of exemplar human capital rent types, we argue that the characteristics of the underlying human capital are of limited importance to the existence of human capital rents. Instead, a focus on human capital rents should give primacy to the management systems that create the isolating mechanisms that allow for the creation of such rents. In other words, we argue that most of the advantages we ascribe to individual-level human capital may actually reside in the human resource (HR) system. Accordingly, we call for strategic human capital scholars to more explicitly draw upon the rich tools and history of HR scholarship in order to better understand the sources of human capital-based competitive advantages.
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