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[Excerpt] Human Resources has an identity crisis. The HR function is increasingly called upon to be a strategic business partner but this role is often in conflict with HR’s long-held identity as the firm’s employee advocate. Contemporary Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) initiatives seek to maximize human capital, align strategic fit throughout an organization and increase the firm’s profits; these initiatives are not designed to directly further the interests of the firm’s employees.[1] HR functions that try to simultaneously act as strategic business partners while maintaining their employee advocacy identity inevitably suffer from a lack of internal consistency, causing HR to be perceived as a weak function by employees and managers alike.[2] In other words, efforts to balance SHRM and employee advocacy ultimately lead to the function failing in both of these roles. This identity crisis needs to be resolved in order to realize the value-adding potential of SHRM. In the following essay I will first discuss the historical context of the HR-employee advocacy problem, then describe the need to separate HR from employee advocacy in the modern work environment, and finally show the positive impacts of both employee self-advocacy and internally consistent SHRM.


Suggested Citation:
Conaton, S. (2014, September 17). Realizing the potential of strategic human resource management: Employee self-advocacy in the information age. Cornell HR Review. Retrieved [insert date] from Cornell University, ILR School site: