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Devolving HR responsibility to the line: Threat, opportunity or partnership?

Susan Whittaker (People and Organisational Development Department, Carat Ltd, London, UK)
Mick Marchington (Manchester School of Management, UMIST, Manchester, UK)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 1 June 2003



Investigates the devolution of human resources (HR) responsibilities to the line within a large food manufacturing company. A total of 13 senior/board level line managers took part in this study. Records questionnaire and interview data with reference to line manager perceptions of their involvement in HR activities. Of interest is the finding that the line managers claimed to be satisfied with the HR responsibilities that have been devolved to them and are keen to take on activities that relate explicitly to the development of their team. Most line managers report working closely with their HR counterparts and see the configuration moving towards a partnership. The line managers’ main concern is that a lack of support from HR during the delivery of the service can detract from the overall effectiveness. They also note that junior level line managers are likely to feel less supported by HR and comment that it is merely their high level position that drives the HR‐line partnership in their situations. Suggests that this research will act as a first step in exploring the relationship between varying levels of line managers and their HR counterparts in order to ascertain whether the higher your status in the organisation, the better your relationship is with HR.



Whittaker, S. and Marchington, M. (2003), "Devolving HR responsibility to the line: Threat, opportunity or partnership?", Employee Relations, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 245-261.




Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited

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