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Innovation-Driven Human Resource Management Practices in the Digital Era

Special issue call for papers from Chinese Management Studies

The submission portal for this special issue will open 1st March, 2020.

Guest-edited by:

Dr. Shuming Zhao
Nanjing University, Nanjing, China, [email protected]

Dr. Mingwei Liu
Rutgers - State University of New Jersey, USA, [email protected]

Dr. Hong Liu
Nanjing University, Nanjing, China, [email protected]

Dr. Zhiqiang Liu
Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China, [email protected]

Submission deadline:
June 1, 2020

Innovation-driven Human Resource Management Practices in the Digital Era

The implementation of innovation-driven development strategies in China requires enterprises to construct new models of human resource management (HRM) to face increasing challenges and rapid changes in the digital era. Zhao (2018) pointed out that Chinese organizations need to explore new ideas, new methods and new tools of talent advancement and HRM development in order to promote firm innovation, accelerate economic transformation and upgrading, and achieve social progress. Having innovative talent teams to enhance competitiveness, and making and implementing innovation-driven HRM policies and practices are important ways forward for organizations.

Along with the deepening of economic globalization, digitalization and rapid development of science and technology, enterprises’ internal and external environments are constantly changing, and HRM faces unprecedented new challenges (Bissola & Imperatori, 2019). New technologies, such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, mobile internet, big data and cloud computing, are changing the business world in unprecedented ways and have spawned the sharing economy and gig economy (Hamari, Sjöklint, & Ukkonen, 2016; Kuhn, 2016; Kuhn, & Maleki, 2017). While scholars from human resource management and employment relations are exploring the influence of the sharing economy on HRM, many issues remain unaddressed, such as the definition, connotation, characteristics and operation mode of the sharing economy-based HRM and its impact on innovation (Kuhn, & Maleki, 2017; Lee, Kusbit, Metsky, & Dabbish, 2015; Meijerink & Keegan, in press; Nica, 2018).

In the era of digitalization, the subversive reconstruction of the relationship between people and organizations has brought tremendous challenges to HRM. Traditional HRM systems are unable to match the challenges of developing innovation-based strategies required by today’s enterprises. Focusing on improving employee efficiency, traditional HRM practitioners are deeply involved in routine work (Ulrich & Dulebohn, 2015). Disconnected from the innovation strategies needed by business, existing HRM has failed to maximize the value of human capital (Charan, 2014; Stankevičiūtė, & Savanevičienė, 2018; Ulrich & Dulebohn, 2015) and is unlikely to meet the needs of organizational transformation. In response, many organizations are redesigning their HRM systems, building a “three-pillar” or “three-legged stool” HRM model is a typical example (Keegan, Bitterling, Sylva, & Hoeksema, 2018; Kelly & Rapp, 2018). This HRM model involves a shared human resource service center (HRSSC) (Richter & Bruehl, 2017), a human resource center of expertise (HRCOE) (Ulrich & Dulebohn, 2015), and a center of human resource business partners (HRBP) (McCracken & Heaton, 2012; Ulrich, Allen, Brockbank, Younger, & Nyman, 2009). While applied widely, the “three-pillar” or “three-legged stool” HRM model faces theoretical challenges and questions of how the model affects firm performance and promotes enterprise innovation in the digital era. These questions deserve further study.

Given that rapidly evolving new technologies are changing the nature of work and how work is done, HRM systems must master the democratization of work, the empowerment of individual employees and enhancement of worker autonomy in decision-making (Gee, 2018). The new work environment challenges long-held assumptions about leadership, organizational operating models, workforce engagement, culture and purpose of enterprises and the future of the HRM profession. New technologies have popularized social media and offered new models of communication and collaboration within and between organizations (Cook, 2017). Compounding these challenges, we are moving from a world of hierarchical organizational structures toward a flat world where human resources can be digitally activated, deactivated and reconfigured as and where needed (Ernst & Chrobot-Mason, 2011). For example, employees in a global virtue team are interconnected to work on the same project even though they belong to different organizations across the world. Employees are enjoying more freedom about the time and place to carry out their task thanks to the facilitation of digital technologies. The challenge of building a productive work community in such an environment will reshape the role of leaders and human resource professionals, and require they be innovative in HRM practices to support the implementation of new corporate strategies.

Stimulating employee creativity is a way to achieve organizational innovation and HRM innovation (Jiang, Wang, & Zhao, 2012). Inspiring employee creativity can bring new and better ideas, products, services and production processes to the organization, which allows enterprises to achieve breakthroughs and competitive advantages (Anderson, Potočnik, & Zhou, 2014). Knowledge and skills of employees are source of the core competitiveness of enterprises, and enterprises need to redeploy and transform these resources into the ability to innovate (Berisha Qehaja & Kutllovci, 2015; Stankevičiūtė, & Savanevičienė, 2018). HRM that performs a range of important functions such as providing rewards and incentives, shaping organizational atmosphere and culture, offering creativity training, and developing team brainstorming techniques, is an important means to realize this transformation (Jiang & Zhao, 2008; Liu, Gong, Zhou, & Huang, 2017). While scholars have started to research HRM and organizational innovation and creativity, the era of digitalization posts ever-rising challenges to |both scholars and practitioners in developing and improving innovative and effective HRM models in this new era.

We welcome theoretical and empirical (both quantitative and qualitative) papers that advance the state of knowledge on innovation-driven HRM practices and models. The research questions include, but are not limited to:

  1. The Influence of the External Market, Technology, and Innovation Environment on the Evolution of Human Resource Management Models;
  2. Human Resource Management and Innovation in the Sharing, Gig, or Platform Economy;
  3. The Three-pillar, or Three-legged Stool Human Resource Management Model and Innovation;
  4. New Technologies and Human Resource Management in the Digital Era;
  5. The Role of Leadership or Entrepreneurship in Shaping Human Resource Management and Innovation;
  6. Human Resource Management, Creativity and Innovation;
  7. Innovative Talent Management in the Sharing or Gig Economy;
  8. Diverse Modes of Employment Relationships and Creativity/Innovation;
  9. Organizational Reform and Change in the Era of Digitalization;
  10. The Impacts of Competition and Collaboration among Teams/Organizations on HRM and Creativity/Innovation in the Digital Era;
  11. Breakthrough Innovation and HRM Change in the Era of Digitalization.

Contributors should note:

  • This call for papers for the CMS special issue is open and competitive.
  • Manuscripts will undergo a double-blind review process by the CMS guest editorial team for inclusion in the special issue.
  • All submissions must conform to the manuscript requirements outlined in CMS’s submission system.
  • The guest editors will select papers for the special issue.
  • Submissions should be between 6,000-10,000 words, including references, figures and tables, and follow the manuscript requirement outlined on the journal’s website (
  • All manuscripts should be submitted via the Chinese Management Studies website.
  • The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2020.
  • Questions regarding the special issue can be addressed to the guest editors or Meng XI ([email protected]).

Anderson, N., Potočnik, K., & Zhou, J. (2014). Innovation and creativity in organizations: A state-of-the-science review, prospective commentary, and guiding framework. Journal of management, 40(5), 1297-1333.

Berisha Qehaja, A., & Kutllovci, E. (2015). The role of human resources in gaining competitive advantage. Journal of Human Resource Management (2015), 18(2), 47-61.

Bissola, R., & Imperatori, B. (Eds.). (2019). HRM 4.0 For Human-Centered Organizations. Emerald Group Publishing.

Cook, N. (2017). Enterprise 2.0: How social software will change the future of work. Routledge.

Charan, R. (2014). It's time to split HR. Harvard Business Review, 92(7): 33-34.

Ernst, C., & Chrobot-Mason, D. (2011). Flat world, hard boundaries: How to lead across them. MIT Sloan Management Review, 52(3), 81-88

Gee, J. (2018). The new work order. Routledge.

Hamari, J., Sjöklint, M., & Ukkonen, A. (2016). The sharing economy: Why people participate in collaborative consumption. Journal of the association for information science and technology, 67(9), 2047-2059.

Jiang, J., Wang, S., & Zhao, S. (2012). Does HRM facilitate employee creativity and organizational innovation? A study of Chinese firms. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23(19), 4025-4047.

Jiang, J, & Zhao, S. M. (2007). A new framework for research on the relationship between strategic human resource management and organizational performance: a perspective of theoretical integration. Chinese Journal of Management, 4(6): 779-782.

Keegan, A., Bitterling, I., Sylva, H., & Hoeksema, L. (2018). Organizing the HRM function: Responses to paradoxes, variety, and dynamism. Human Resource Management, 57(5), 1111-1126.

Kelly, C., & Rapp, K. (2018). The HR function in 2021: Models & competencies (CAHRS White Paper). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, ILR School, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.

Kuhn, K. M. (2016). The rise of the “gig economy” and implications for understanding work and workers. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 9(1), 157-162.

Kuhn, K. M., & Maleki, A. (2017). Micro-entrepreneurs, dependent contractors, and instaserfs: Understanding online labor platform workforces. Academy of Management Perspectives, 31(3), 183-200.

Lee, M. K., Kusbit, D., Metsky, E. and Dabbish, L. (2015). Working with machines: The impact of algorithmic and data-driven management on human workers. Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, New York, Association for Computing Machinery.

Liu, D., Gong, Y., Zhou, J., & Huang, J. C. (2017). Human resource systems, employee creativity, and firm innovation: The moderating role of firm ownership. Academy of Management Journal, 60(3), 1164-1188.

McCracken, M., & Heaton, N. (2012). From ‘tucked away’ to ‘joined at the hip’: understanding evolving relationships within the HRBP model in a regional energy company. Human Resource Management Journal, 22(2), 182-198.

Meijerink, J., & Keegan, A. (in press). Conceptualizing human resource management in the gig economy. Journal of managerial psychology.

Nica, E. (2018). Gig-based working arrangements: Business patterns, labor-management practices, and regulations. Economics, Management, and Financial Markets, 13(1), 100-105.

Richter, P. C., & Bruehl, R. (2017). Shared service center research: A review of the past, present, and future. European Management Journal, 35(1), 26-38.

Stankevičiūtė, Ž., & Savanevičienė, A. (2018). Designing Sustainable HRM: The Core Characteristics of Emerging Field. Sustainability, 10(12), 1-23.

Ulrich, D., Allen, J., Brockbank, W., Younger, J. & Nyman, M. (2009). HR Transformation – Building Human Resources from the Outside In. McGraw-Hill:

Ulrich, D., & Dulebohn, J. H. (2015). Are we there yet? What's next for HR?. Human Resource Management Review, 25(2), 188-204.

Zhao, S.M. (2018). Building Innovative Human Resource Management Models, People’s Daily, December 10.