Role of Strategic Hr

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Francesca Andreescu: Innovating the HR Function

Francesca Andreescu* Innovating the HR Function in a Commercialising British Public Sector Organisation: Towards a More Strategic Role for HR? **

Although the body of research and practice on HR management in private sector organisations has grown at an astonishing pace in recent years, much less is known about the nature, role and meaning of a strategic HR department within public sector organisations undergoing commercialisation. This article addresses this gap by exploring the changing role of the HR function within a British public sector organisation responding to the New Labour government’s ‘modernisation’ agenda. The findings are based on in-depth interviews, focus groups, analysis of documentary evidence and observations carried out over a period of two years. Drawing on role-set theory and concepts of negotiated order, the study sheds light on the factors that support or hinder the shift towards a more strategic role for the function and suggests a number of conclusions and implications for both theorists and practitioners. Key words: Strategic Human Resource Management, Role of the HR Function, Organisational Change, Public Sector



* Francesca Andreescu, School of Management, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK, 44 (0)23 8059 7995, Fax: ++44 (0)23 8059 3844. E-Mail: Article received: January 21, 2004 Revised version accepted after double blind review: May 10, 2004.


management revue, vol 15, issue 3, 2004



In the context of significant changes in their operating environments and pressures to increase efficiency and accountability, public sector organisations in the United Kingdom have been provided with the opportunity to operate and compete commercially, whilst the Government retains ownership (New Labour Modernising Government White Paper, March...