The Role of Strategic Groups in Understanding Strategic Human Resource Management

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The role of strategic groups in understanding strategic human resource management Judie M. Gannon
Oxford School of Hospitality Management, Faculty of Business, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK

The role of strategic groups

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Liz Doherty
Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, and

Angela Roper
School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK Abstract
Purpose – This article aims to explore how understanding the challenges faced by companies’ attempts to create competitive advantage through their human resources and HRM practices can be enhanced by insights into the concept of strategic groups within industries. Based within the international hotel industry, this study identifies how strategic groups emerge in the analysis of HRM practices and approaches. It sheds light on the value of strategic groups as a way of readdressing the focus on firm and industry level analyses. Design/methodology/approach – Senior human resource executives and their teams across eight international hotel companies (IHCs) were interviewed in corporate and regional headquarters, with observations and the collection of company documentation complementing the interviews. Findings – The findings demonstrate that strategic groups emerge from analysis of the HRM practices and strategies used to develop hotel general managers (HGMs) as strategic human resources in the international hotel industry. The value of understanding industry structures and dynamics and intermediary levels of analysis are apparent where specific industries place occupational constraints on their managerial resources and limit the range of strategies and expansion modes companies can adopt. Research limitations/implications – This study indicates that further research on strategic groups will enhance the theoretical understanding of strategic human resource management and specifically the forces that act to constrain the achievement of competitive advantage through human resources. A limitation of this study is the dependence on the human resource divisions’ perspectives on realising international expansion ambitions in the hotel industry. Practical implications – This study has implications for companies’ engagement with their executives’ perceptions of opportunities and threats, and suggests companies will struggle to achieve competitive advantage where such perceptions are consistent with their competitors. Originality/value – Developments in strategic human resource management have relied on the conceptual and theoretical developments in strategic management, however, an understanding of the impact of strategic groups and their shaping of SHRM has not been previously explored. Keywords Strategic groups, Strategic human resources, Strategic human resource management, International human resource management, Hotel and catering industry, International business Paper type Research paper

The authors would like to express their thanks to the organisations who participated in the research and the reviewers and Editors who provided insightful and excellent feedback on early drafts.

Personnel Review Vol. 41 No. 4, 2012 pp. 513-546 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0048-3486 DOI 10.1108/00483481211229401

PR 41,4

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Introduction Most developments in strategic human resource management (SHRM) and international human resource management (IHRM) have drawn heavily on the strategic management literature (Becker and Huselid, 2006; Schuler and Jackson, 2007). Some of the earliest models associated with SHRM (such as Fombrun et al., 1984; Beer et al., 1984; Hendry and Pettigrew, 1986 and Guest’s (1989) model) provide insights into how leading HRM thinkers have approached the strategic dimensions of HRM. Such insights have focused on the links or fit between strategy and HRM, environmental analyses as the...
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