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[Excerpt] Is there a new human resource management? Yo. That is, yes and no. A new perspective -- strategic human resource management -- emerged during the 80s to take its place alongside the more traditional operational and programmatic perspectives as a major influence on the field. This perspective has rapidly progressed in terms of theory and research (if not practice). But, it continues to take many shapes and forms, and even with its various permutations, is far from universally embraced by scholars or practitioners. What follows is a brief look at the strategic perspective of the field. It begins with a summary of some common themes. This is followed by an illustrative review of extant theory,which in particular distinguishes between the two dominant theoretical streams which have thus far emerged: (1) the multiple model theorists (MMTs) who are given to building typologies of human resource strategies and describing or prescribing the conditions under which the various types work or should work best and (2) the dominant model theorists (DMTs) who are rather less preoccupied with contingencies and rather more concerned with the details and promulgation of their preferred models or strategies within and across firms. Next comes a look at the extent to which these two views show up in actual practice.The evidence is sparse, but their diffusion appears to be rather limited thus far. This naturally gives rise to a discussion of the factors which seem to encourage and, especially, discourage diffusion. Particular attention is paid to the adoption of the so-called strategic business partner role by human resource executives, managers, and professionals, and to the adequacy of this role as a catalyst for the diffusion of the strategic perspective across the U. S. and Canadian economies. Finally, suggestions are made regarding future theoretical and empirical work which might help keep the strategic perspective moving ahead.


Paper prepared for the conference, "Managing Human Resources in the 1990s and Beyond: Is the Workplace Being Transformed?", Industrial Relations Centre, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, September 22-23, 1994.

Suggested Citation
Dyer, L. & Kochan, T. A. (1994). Is there a new HRM? Contemporary evidence and future directions (CAHRS Working Paper #94-22). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.