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Journal cover: Management Research News

Management Research News

ISSN: 0140-9174
Currently published as: Management Research Review

Online from: 1978

Subject Area: Management Science/Management Studies

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Strategic human resource management and knowledge workers: A case study of professional service firms

Document Information:
Title:Strategic human resource management and knowledge workers: A case study of professional service firms
Author(s):Stephen T.T. Teo, (University of Western Sydney, Quakers Hill, Australia), Bhavini Lakhani, (School of Accounting, University of Technology Sydney, Broadway, Australia), David Brown, (School of Accounting, University of Technology Sydney, Broadway, Australia), Teemu Malmi, (Department of Accounting and Finance, Helsinki School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland)
Citation:Stephen T.T. Teo, Bhavini Lakhani, David Brown, Teemu Malmi, (2008) "Strategic human resource management and knowledge workers: A case study of professional service firms", Management Research News, Vol. 31 Iss: 9, pp.683 - 696
Keywords:Australia, Human resource management, Human resource strategies, Knowledge organization, Professional services
Article type:Case study
DOI:10.1108/01409170810898572 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of adopting a strategic approach to human resource management (HRM) in professional service firms (PSFs). It provides the empirical evidence by comparing and contrasting the adoption of a strategic approach to HRM in two Australian PSFs.

Design/methodology/approach – A qualitative case study approach is adopted. Data were collected from multiple sources. The secondary sources comprised annual reports, press releases and industry reports. In total, 40 semi-structured interviews were conducted with senior partners, professional staff, HR managers and ex-employees of the two firms.

Findings – The findings suggest that differences in the performance of PSFs could be explained by organizational control systems such as personnel and cultural controls. The qualitative data generated by the two PSF cases provided evidence to support the notion that strategic human resource management is an important factor in explaining firm performance. Our findings provide empirical support for the importance of strategic approaches to HRM.

Research limitations/implications – One limitation of this study is the adoption of case study method, the findings of which cannot be generalized to a wider population. Thus, the study provides only a limited body of accumulated knowledge. Future studies could adopt a longitudinal research design to test the relationships between HRM systems, control systems and firm performance.

Practical implications – To be competitive, PSFs must restructure their HRM functions to allow the department to participate in strategic decision-making. HR departments in firms should also incorporate cultural and personnel controls as a way to achieve higher levels of firm performance.

Originality/value – The paper provides empirical evidence of how PSFs use HRM as a component of success.

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