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The purpose of this chapter is to discuss some of the main features and trends in human resources (HR) strategy. Inasmuch as people are among the most important resources available to firms, one could argue that HR strategy should be central to any debate about how firms achieve competitive advantage. But this “people are our most important asset” argument is actually fairly hollow in light of the evidence. Far too many articles on HR start with this premise, but the reality is that organizations have historically not rested their fortunes on human resources. The HR function remains among the least influential in most organizations, and competitive strategies have not typically been based on the skills, capabilities, and behaviors of employees. In fact, as Snell, Youndt and Wright (1996:62) noted, in the past executives have typically tried to “take human resources out of the strategy equation--i.e., by substituting capital for labor where possible, and by designing hierarchical organizations that separate those who think from those who actually do the work.”


Suggested Citation
Snell, S. A., Shadur, M. A. & Wright, P. M. (2000). Human resources strategy: The era of our ways (CAHRS Working Paper #00-17). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.