HR Leaders as Strategic Partners

The world of human resource management is changing alongside the wide variety of societal changes. The expressed priorities of HR are in a process of change that has been in the works for years, but recently have become a source of debate and contention (Keegan & Francis, 2010). HR professionals are constantly needing to manage the tension between being business centered while also being employee centered. On the one hand, HR professionals are expected to be advocates for the employees within the organization, but on the other hand they are also expected to take on a strategic perspective over an operational one (Keegan & Francis, 2010).

In response to this dichotomy HR leaders are operating in, they must adopt a mindset put forth by academic efforts, prescribing a new agenda for HR as business partner (Keegan & Francis, 2010). The role of strategic partner places HR leaders in a position to partner with line managers to help them reach their goals through effective strategy formulation and strategy execution (Ulrich and Brockbank 2005, p. 27). HR practitioners should transform from ordinary HR practitioners into HR business partners, which is a natural step in the evolution of HR work in a globally competitive environment (Ulrich and Brockbank 2005). HR professionals, like any other profession, utilize strategy to legitimize their expertise to build professional power (Knapp, 1999) and are beginning to recognize the advantage of strategic partnership. The strategic partner role is an attractive role for HR professionals (Ulrich and Brockbank) because it frames the relationship other employees and leaders have with HR in a positive light rather than a relationship of tension. The strategic partner role provide the opportunity for HR to work collaboratively with various members of the organization to achieve high performance levels (Keegan & Francis, 2010).


Fairclough, N. (2003). Analysing discourse: textual analysis for social research. London ; New York: Routledge.

Keegan, A., & Francis, H. (2010). Practitioner talk: the changing textscape of HRM and emergence of HR business partnership. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21(6), 873–898.

Knapp, S. J. (1999). Analyzing Narratives of Expertise: Sociological Quarterly, 40(4), 587–612.

Ulrich, D. (1997). Human resource champions: the next agenda for adding value and delivering results. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Ulrich, D., & Brockbank, W. (2005). The HR value proposition. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press.


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