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In this chapter, we explore the notion of virtual HR departments: a network-based organization built on partnerships and mediated by information technologies in order to be simultaneously strategic, flexible, cost-efficient, and service-oriented. We draw on experiences and initiatives at Merck Pharmaceuticals in order to show how information technology in establishing an infrastructure for virtual HR. Then, we present a model for mapping the architecture of HR activities that includes both internal and external sourcing options. We conclude by offering some recommendations for management practice as well as future research.


Suggested Citation
Snell, S. A., Stueber, D. & Lepak, D. P. (2001). Virtual HR departments: Getting out of the middle (CAHRS Working Paper #01-08). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.