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Senior managers' perceptions of the practice of human resource management

Gillian Maxwell (Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Lois Farquharson (Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 25 April 2008




The purpose of the paper is to investigate the perceptions of senior managers in companies in the Sunday Times list of UK best employers on the practice of HRM in their organisations.


The approach taken was to conduct semi‐structured interviews with senior line and HR directors/ managers.


In the organisations investigated, HRM is afforded high‐level organisational support at chief executive, if not always senior operational manager, level. It is generally recognised by senior managers as contributing to business effectiveness when it centres on business needs. It is integrated with business strategy processes at both strategic and operational levels. Indeed HRM is elemental to business strategic planning processes, which has the effect of reducing the potential gap between strategic rhetoric on HRM and practical implementation of HRM. Leadership and performance management are current HR policy priorities.

Research limitations/implications

The generative primary data represent senior managers' perceptions of how HRM operates in their organisation therefore cannot be generalised.

Practical implications

Senior manager support of HRM means focusing HRM efforts in organisations on business needs and integration between HRM and business strategy processes. The corollary is that HRM policy priorities are derived from the strategic business direction and that they are perceived to support business operations and, consequently, business performance.

Originality/ value

Senior line managers and HR specialists inform the research which contributes to understanding of current, best practice HRM from an evidence base; a model of contemporary best practice is proposed.



Maxwell, G. and Farquharson, L. (2008), "Senior managers' perceptions of the practice of human resource management", Employee Relations, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 304-322.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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