Outsourcing HR services: the role of human resource intermediaries

Henrik Kock (Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University/HELIX VINN Excellence Centre, Linköping, Sweden)
Andreas Wallo (Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University/HELIX VINN Excellence Centre, Linköping, Sweden)
Barbro Nilsson (Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University/HELIX VINN Excellence Centre, Linköping, Sweden)
Cecilia Höglund (Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University/HELIX VINN Excellence Centre, Linköping, Sweden)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Publication date: 9 November 2012

Abstract

Purpose

In this article, the area of interest is an emerging type of organisation called human resource intermediaries (HRIs), which focus on delivering human resource (HR) services to public sector organisations and private companies. The purpose of this article is, thus, to explore HRIs as deliverers of HR services. More specifically, the article will seek to analyse and discuss how employees in HRIs understand their role as providers of HR services to their clients and what characterises the HRIs' work and the nature of their assignments.

Design/methodology/approach

The empirical foundation of this article comprises a longitudinal case study of three Swedish HRI organisations. The data consist of interviews with 19 managers and consultants from the three HRIs.

Findings

The results indicate that HRIs want to take on a broad, strategic and proactive role in relation to their customers. However, due to external and internal constraints, such as the HRIs' internal work processes, the nature of their assignments and the client's HR competence level, the roles that HRIs play in practice tend to be more specific, operational and reactive.

Practical implications

An important challenge for HRIs is to avoid being overwhelmed by short‐term and reactive assignments that deliver value to their clients through the use of standard solutions. Long‐term relationships, the structures of ownership and membership, and the availability of unique networks can also prove to be valuable for clients.

Originality/value

This study explores HRIs as an emerging type of organisation within the area of human resources. Compared with HR consultants who specialise in handling specific HR‐related problems, HRIs target the entire flow of human resources in, within, and out of client organisations.

Keywords

Citation

Kock, H., Wallo, A., Nilsson, B. and Höglund, C. (2012), "Outsourcing HR services: the role of human resource intermediaries", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 36 No. 8, pp. 772-790. https://doi.org/10.1108/03090591211263512

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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