Strategic human resource management, human capital and competitive advantage: is the field going in circles?

John E. Delery, Dorothea Roumpi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

81 Scopus citations

Abstract

The resource-based view (RBV) of the firm has been consistently used as a backdrop in strategic human resource management (SHRM) research and has the potential to bridge the ‘micro–macro’ divide. The tension between the SHRM and the strategic human capital literature, however, signifies that RBV has not reached its potential. In this paper, we begin with a brief review of the conceptual logic linking human resource management (HRM) practices and firm outcomes that aim at highlighting the different treatment of RBV in the SHRM and strategic human capital literatures. We then propose a conceptual model that suggests that HRM practices are not simple levers that enable firms to create sustainable competitive advantage, as most of the strategic human capital research postulates. On the contrary, we argue that HRM practices can contribute to a firm's sustainable competitive advantage not only by enhancing employees' ability, and offering motivation and opportunities, but also by shaping supply-side and demand-side mobility constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalHuman Resource Management Journal
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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