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The dis-app-earance of HRM: Impact of Digitization on the HRM Profession

Electronic HRM in the Smart Era

ISBN: 978-1-78714-316-6, eISBN: 978-1-78714-315-9

Publication date: 9 August 2017



This chapter aims to clarify the future of the HR profession in the digital age by translating and extrapolating results of recent studies in a creative way. The main question is ‘What will be the effects of digitization on the HRM profession?’


The methodological approach is threefold. A theoretical concept of digital impact on the HRM profession is constructed based on a task-based analysis of the Ulrich roles. Second, in two sessions HRM Professionals reflect on the main question and give assessments. Third, a secondary analysis is carried out on the HRM practice monitor and five hypotheses are tested (primary role of HR, time spent in an activity cluster, typification of the HRM department).


The outcomes give no clear and unequivocal picture yet. Although the theoretical concept, actual research, professional literature and consulted professionals indicate that the HRM profession is already or will soon get more strategic due to digitization, the secondary analysis of the HRM practice monitor does not confirm that tendency.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations of this research comprise flaws in the HRM practice monitor, the questionable web instrument and the lack of a clear and broadly accepted definition of digitization. Follow-up research seems to be very worthwhile and has a lot of possible starting points.

Practical implications

This research offers a new way of looking at the HRM profession in transition by combining the Ulrich model with a task-based analysis. Furthermore the evidence is based on 4 years (2012–2015) of data collection.




The author would like to thank Nicole van Dartel, Marjan Hidskes, Willem de Lange and Alan Morris for their valuable contributions, students Döne Liman and Nicky van Engelen for their co-work and lector Tonnie van der Zouwen for encouraging intellectual curiosity.


van Kruining, I. (2017), "The dis-app-earance of HRM: Impact of Digitization on the HRM Profession", Bondarouk, T., Ruël, H.J.M. and Parry, E. (Ed.) Electronic HRM in the Smart Era (The Changing Context of Managing People), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 311-337.



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