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The role of human resource practices in the implementation of digital transformation

Álvaro Nicolás-Agustín (Management and Finance, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain)
Daniel Jiménez-Jiménez (Management and Finance, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain)
Francisco Maeso-Fernandez (Applied Economics, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 28 October 2021

Issue publication date: 24 May 2022




Professionals and academics need to know what human resource practices are necessary in this Industry 4.0 environment and digital revolution. This research studies some human resource practices in the digital age that favor the implementation of digital transformation. The authors’ arguments suggest that for personnel to be a key asset in digital transformation processes, a strategic alignment is necessary to drive the company toward these objectives.


The hypotheses were tested in a representative sample of 184 manufacturing companies with ten or more employees located in the southeast of Spain, using partial least squares.


The authors’ findings show that human resource practices partially mediate the relationship between strategic alignment and digital transformation. Based on the contingent approach, the authors also maintain that the company must implement human resource practices that encourage employee behaviors that are consistent with the organization's strategy. This strategic alignment and these human resource practices enable companies to achieve digital transformation in search of superior performance.

Research limitations/implications

Longitudinal and multilevel studies could increase the strength of the research, which could also include companies from other sectors. Although the technology component is fundamental in digital transformation processes, human capital management is even more important. This research highlights the mediating role of human resource management, where practices such as teleworking, teamwork and employee engagement are essential to foster innovative behavior and implement the digital transformation process.

Practical implications

In the new digital environment, companies must adopt a set of human resource practices that favor innovative employee behavior that helps digitally transform their businesses.


To the best of authors’ knowledge, this empirical study has not been previously carried out. The theoretical model and hypothesis testing provide strategic value for understanding some of the determinants of digital transformation in relation to human resource management.



The authors are grateful to the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness of the Spanish Government for financing the research project ECO2017-88987-R (MINECO / FEDER; EU), co-financed by the European Union FEDER. In addition, the authors are grateful to the Servicio de Estudios de la Unión General de Trabajadores, Federación Regional de Empresarios del Metal (FREMM), Confederación Regional de Organizaciones Empresariales (CROEM), Asociación de Jóvenes Empresarios (AJE) and to the Asociación de Directivos de Murcia (ADIMUR) for making this research possible.


Nicolás-Agustín, Á., Jiménez-Jiménez, D. and Maeso-Fernandez, F. (2022), "The role of human resource practices in the implementation of digital transformation", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 43 No. 2, pp. 395-410.



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