What is Strategic Human Resource Management?

In Human Resource (HR) and management circles, there is now a lot of talk about Strategic Human Resource Management and many expensive books can be seen on the bookstore shelves. But what exactly is SHRM (Strategic Human Resource Development), what are its key features and how does it differ from traditional personnel management?

SHRM or Strategic Human Resource Management is a branch of Human Resource Management or HRM. It is a fairly new field, which has emerged from the overarching discipline of human resources. Much of the early or so-called traditional HRM literature treated the idea of ​​strategy superficially, rather as a purely operational issue, the results of which cascaded down throughout the organization. There was a kind of unspoken division of territory between people-centered values ​​of HR and tougher business values ​​where corporate strategies really belonged. HR practitioners felt uncomfortable in the war cabinet-like atmosphere in which corporate strategies were formulated.

Definition of SHRM

Strategic personnel management can be defined as an interconnection of human resources with strategic goals and objectives for improving business results and developing an organizational culture that promotes innovation, flexibility and competitive advantages. In an organization, SHRM means accepting and involving the HR function as a strategic partner in the design and implementation of the company’s strategies through HR activities such as recruitment, selection, training and reward of staff.

How SHRM differs from HRM

Over the past two decades, there has been a growing awareness that HR functions were like an island unto themselves with softer people-centered values ​​far removed from the harsh world of real business. To justify its own existence, HR functions must be seen as more intimately linked to the strategy and day-to-day running of the company’s business side. Many writers in the late 1980s began to call for a more strategic approach to human management than standard practices for traditional human management or models of industrial relations. Strategic personnel management focuses on personnel programs with long-term goals. Instead of focusing on internal personnel issues, the focus is on addressing and solving problems that affect personnel management programs in the long term and often globally. Therefore, the primary goal of strategic human resources is to increase employee productivity by focusing on business barriers that arise outside human resources. The primary measures for a strategic HR manager are to identify important HR areas where strategies can be implemented in the long term to improve employees’ overall motivation and productivity. Communication between HR and the company’s top management is crucial as no collaboration is possible without active participation.

Key Features of Strategic Human Resource Management

The most important features of SHRM are

  • There is a clear link between personnel policy and practice and overall organizational strategic goals and the organizational environment
  • There is an organization chart that links individual HR interventions so that they are mutually supportive
  • A large part of the responsibility for the management of human resources is decentralized along the line

Trends in Strategic Human Resource Management

Personnel in Human Resource Management are increasingly faced with questions about employee participation, personnel flow, performance management, reward systems and work systems with a high level of commitment in connection with globalization. Older solutions and recipes that worked in a local context do not work in an international context. Cross-cultural issues play a major role here. These are some of the major issues that HR professionals and senior management involved in SHRM grapple with during the first decade of the 2000s:

  • Internationalization of market integration.
  • Increased competition, which may not be local or even national through free market ideology
  • Rapid technical change.
  • New concepts for line and general management.
  • Constantly changing ownership and resulting business climate.
  • Cross-cultural issues
  • Economic gravity shifts from “developed” to “developing countries”.

SHRM also reflects some of the most important contemporary challenges facing Human Resource Management: Adapting HR to the core business strategy, demographic trends in employment and the labor market, integrating soft skills into HRD and finally Knowledge Management.


  1. Armstrong, M (ed.) 192a) Strategies for Human Resource Management: A Total Business Approach. London: Kogan Page
  2. Beer, M and Spector, B (eds) (1985) Lectures in Human Resource Management. New York: Free Press
  3. Boxall, P (1992) ‘Strategic Human Resource Management: The beginning of a new theoretical sophistication? ‘ Human Resource Management Journal, Vol.2 No.3 Spring.
  4. Fombrun, CJ, Tichy, N, M and Devanna, MA (1984) Strategic Human Resource Management. New York: Wiley
  5. Mintzberg, H, Quinn, JB, Ghoshal, S (198) The strategy process, Prentice Hall.
  6. Truss, C and Gratton, L (1994) ‘Strategic Human Resource Management: A Conceptual Approach ‘, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol.5 No.3
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