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[Excerpt] The HR function has evolved through the years (mostly in larger companies) from a purely clerical and employee relations nature to a function involved in developing organizational strategy and realizing business-wide goals. The evolution of the Australian nomenclature of the HR role clearly shows the transition that this function has experienced. In Australia people working in HR were called “welfare officers” in the early 1900s, referred to as “personnel managers” from the 1950s to the 1980s, and finally as “human resource managers” in the late 20th century. [i] The shift in titles also reflects an evolution of responsibilities and expectations of the role of HR. On one side is HR’s role as an employee advocate whose main goal is to safeguard the well-being of employees. On the other is HR as a strategic business partner who is to be primarily concerned with aligning the workforce with the business goals of the organization.


Suggested Citation:
Grillo, M. C. (2014, October 8). Straddling the line or embracing the dichotomy: HR’s role as an employee advocate as necessary to remaining (or becoming) a business partner. Cornell HR Review. Retrieved [insert date] from Cornell University, ILR School site: