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Beyond the Department: HRM as a Shared Function

Special issue call for papers from Baltic Journal of Management

Guest editors:
Asst. Prof. Anna Bos-Nehles, University of Twente, the Netherlands
Assoc. Prof. Sue Hutchinson, University of West England, the UK
Assoc. Prof. Keith Townsend, Griffith University, Australia
Prof. Mireia Valverde, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Catalonia, Spain

Objectives of the special issue
This special issue (SI) will bring together leading scholars in a holistic view of the delivery and implementation of HRM in modern organisations. Debates within HRM journals indicate that there is an under-developed understanding of what a shared HRM function is and in what way HRM agents should cooperate to be most effective. This SI will focus on the collective or shared nature of the HRM function, exploring the roles of various HRM agents and their interrelationships. This SI will therefore aim to extend our theoretical and empirical understanding of HRM as a partnership of multiple agents or stakeholders, and will come up with practical implications for what is the most effective mode of cooperation between HRM agents to design, implement and sustain HRM practices in organisations.

Theoretical and Practical Importance:
We define HRM as a shared function of various agents that contribute to the design and delivery of HRM practices and processes. One key element of HRM in current practice is the variety of possible agents of the HRM function (e.g. Kazlauskaitè and Bučiūnienè, 2010; Valverde, Ryan and Soler, 2006). Models such as the HR architecture of the firm (Lepak and Snell, 1999) tend to limit HRM delivery to the structure of the specialist HRM function. Incorporating other actors in these approaches, however, may help explain differences in HRM strategies, processes and results. Effective interactions between various HRM actors may also contribute to a strong HRM system (Bowen and Ostroff, 2004; Stanton, Young, Bartram and Leggat, 2010).

A consistent theme in models of HRM/SHRM is that HRM delivery should be integrated into the line, with line managers and HR managers working in partnership to deliver business goals (e.g. Bondarouk, Bos-Nehles and Hesselink, 2016; McCracken, O'Kane, Brown and McCrory, 2017). The nature of this partnership, however, is often loosely defined and little understood. Some suggest HRM professionals need to focus on convincing line managers to take their implementation seriously, providing them with support to do so. Alternatively, the HRM department has sometimes been perceived as a purveyor of systems that line managers consider to be unnecessary and unhelpful bureaucracy (Guest and King, 2004) and thus Kanter (1983) suggested to bypass HRM professionals and focus on the role of senior managers, consultants and line management. Crucially, few contributions have investigated both empirically and conceptually the need to look beyond the HRM department and their interplay with line management (e.g. Bondarouk et al., 2016; McDermott, Fitzgerald, van Geestel and Keating, 2015; Valverde et al., 2006).

Extending this, Stanton et al. (2011) demonstrate the importance of differentiating line management levels. Guest and Bos-Nehles (2013) distinguish between agents responsible for the introduction and quality of HRM practices (such as senior executives and HR managers) and those responsible for the implementation of these practices (such as line managers and employees). Bredin and Söderlund (2011) highlight the interplay between HRM specialists, line managers, project managers, and project workers in the implementation of HRM practices. Thus, considering HRM as a shared function asks for the contribution of multiple agents, such as HR managers (Kohont and Brewster, 2014), HRM business partners (Caldwell, 2008), project managers (Keegan et al., 2012), frontline managers, middle and senior managers (e.g. Gilbert, de Winne and Sels, 2015; Townsend et al., 2012; Purcell and Hutchinson, 2007), as well as external providers of HRM services in the form of HR outsourcing (e.g. Patel, Budhwar, Witzemann and Katou, 2017) or other less considered actors such as trade unions. Due to self-service applications, such as e-HRM (Bondarouk, Harms and Lepak, 2017), employees become an important HRM agent as well. Increasingly, employees are regarded as active consumers of HRM practices (e.g. Meijerink, Bondarouk and Lepak, 2016) and by co-producing HRM practices with their line managers, they engage in the implementation of HRM practices.

This raises important theoretical and empirical questions around who does or should play a role in the enactment of HRM practices; understanding the tasks and responsibilities that entail this role; how the responsibilities of different agents of HRM interact; and understanding the contextual factors that influence an effective interaction towards the implementation of HRM practices. This special issue calls for research that investigates the various HRM agents in the shared function of HRM delivery, for example (but not limited to):

- HRM professionals at different levels and functions (e.g. HRM department personnel, business
- Senior/Strategic managers / CEOs / Top management teams (TMT)
- Frontline managers / middle managers / line managers
- Project and functional managers
- External consultants and HR service providers, including outsourced shared service centers and 
   offshoring agencies
- Trade Unions
- Employees at different roles and levels of the organization
- Most importantly, the interactions and forms of cooperation between any of the previously listed
   HRM agents

We welcome both empirical and conceptual contributions that benefit from strong theoretical foundations. Authors will be asked to contribute articles that not only make a theoretical contribution with appropriate scholarly standards of data collection and analysis, but also that contribute to practitioners’ capacity to interpret the findings for an organisational and workplace context.

Submission deadline. To be considered for publication in the special issue full manuscripts should be submitted by November 29, 2018. Anticipated publication date of the special issue is early 2020.

Manuscript submission. Manuscripts should be prepared following the author guidelines and submitted through ScholarOne Manuscripts

For any further questions, please contact the Corresponding Guest Editor Anna Bos-Nehles at [email protected]

Bondarouk, T., Harms, R., & Lepak, D. (2017), “Does e-HRM lead to better HRM service?”, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol. 28 No. 9, pp. 1332-1362.
Bondarouk, T., Bos-Nehles, A. C., & Hesselink, X. (2016), “Understanding the congruence of HRM frames in a healthcare organization”, Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 2-20.
Bos‐Nehles, A. C., Van Riemsdijk, M. J., & Kees Looise, J. (2013), “Employee perceptions of line management performance: applying the AMO theory to explain the effectiveness of line managers' HRM implementation”, Human Resource Management, Vol. 52 No. 6, pp.861-877.
Bowen, D. & Ostroff, C. (2004), “Understanding HRM-firm performance linkages: The role of ‘strength’ of the HRM system”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 29, pp. 203-221.
Bredin, K. & Söderlund, J. (2011), “The HR quadrad: A framework for the analysis of HRM in project-based organizations”, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol. 22, pp. 2202-2221.
Caldwell, R., (2008), “HR Business Partner Competency Models: re-contextualising effectiveness” Human Resource Management Journal, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 275-294.
McCracken, M., O'Kane, P., Brown, T.C. and McCrory, M. (2017), “Human resource business partner lifecycle model: exploring how the relationship between HRBPs and their line manager partners evolves”, Human Resource Management Journal, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 58-74.
Gilbert, C., de Winne, S., & Sels, L., (2015), “Strong HRM processes and line managers’ effective HRM implementation: a balanced view”, Human Resource Management Journal, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 600-616.
Guest, D. E. & Bos-Nehles, A. C. (2013), “HRM and performance: the role of effective implementation”, in: Guest, D. E., Paauwe, J. & Wright P. (Eds.), HRM and Performance: Achievements and Challenges, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, 79 - 96.
Guest, D., & King, Z. (2004), “Power, Innovation and Problem‐Solving: The Personnel Managers’ Three Steps to Heaven?”, Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 41 No. 3, pp. 401-423.
Purcell, J. & Hutchinson, S. (2007), “Frontline managers as agents in the HRM-performance causal chain: Theory, analysis and evidence”, Human Resource Management Journal, Vol. 17, pp. 3-13.
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Kazlauskaitè, R., & Bučiūnienè, I. (2010), “HR function developments in Lithuania”, Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 218-241.
Keegan, A., Huemann, M., & Turner, J. R. (2012), “Beyond the line: exploring the HRM responsibilities of line managers, Project managers and the HRM department in four Project-oriented companies in the Netherlands, Austria, the UK and the USA”, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol. 23 No. 15, pp. 3085-3104.
Kohont, A., & Brewster, C. (2014), “The roles and competencies of HR managers in Slovenian multinational companies”, Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 294-313.
Lepak, D. P., & Snell, S. A. (1999), “The human resource architecture: Toward a theory of human capital allocation and development”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 31-48.
McDermott, A.M., Fitzgerald, L., van Gestel, N. M., & Keating, M. A. (2015), “From bipartite to tripartite devolved HRM in professional service contexts: evidence from hospitals in three countries”, Human Resource Management, Vol. 54 No. 4, pp. 813-831.
Meijerink, J. G., Bondarouk, T., & Lepak, D. P. (2016), “Employees as active consumers of HRM: Linking employees’ HRM competences with their perceptions of HRM service value”, Human Resource Management, Vol. 55 No. 2, pp. 219-240.
Patel, C., Budhwar, P., Witzemann, A., & Katou, A. (2017). “HR outsourcing: The impact of HR’s strategic role and remaining in-house HR function”, Journal of Business Research, in press.
Stanton, P., Young, S., Bartram, T., & Leggat, S. (2010), “Singing the same song: Translating HR messages across management hierarchies in Australian hospitals”, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol. 21, pp. 567–581.
Townsend, K., Wilkinson, A., Bamber, G., & Allan, C., (2012), “Mixed Signals in Human Resources Management: The HRM Role of Hospital Line Managers”, Human Resource Management Journal, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 267-282.
Ulrich, D., & Brockbank, W. (2005), The HR Value Proposition. Harvard Business Press.
Ulrich, D. (1997), Human Resource Champions, Boston, MA, Harvard University Press.
Valverde, M., Ryan, G., & Soler, C. (2006), “Distributing HRM responsibilities: A classification of organizations”, Personnel Review, Vol. 35, pp. 618–636.