Sustainable human resource management: a systematic review of a developing field

Alex Anlesinya (Department of Organisation and Human Resource Management, University of Ghana Business School, Accra, Ghana)
Pattanee Susomrith (School of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia)

Journal of Global Responsibility

ISSN: 2041-2568

Publication date: 30 June 2020



This study aims to systematically review sustainable human resource management (HRM) research with the aim of establishing its research themes, methods and contextual focus to develop a better understanding of the state of the field and the gaps in the research, as well as to propose a future research agenda.


This study uses a systematic literature review method that involves the use of 122 studies from six reputable databases covering January 2003 to March 2020.


There is an over-concentration on the ecological perspective of sustainable HRM and managers dominate the examined population. Moreover, there are geographical imbalances in sustainable HRM research. More so, the idea of bundling sustainable HRM practices together has received scanty research attention relative to the individual sustainable HRM best practices. Consequently, from a strategic HRM perspective, the authors highlight various ways to bundle sustainable HRM practices together. Also, the authors suggest that the ability-motivation-opportunity enhancing (AMO) theory’s perspective provides particularly useful means for this investigation. Furthermore, the findings suggest that sustainable HRM can influence organisations to become more competitive and effective in their quests to ensure economic prosperity, social well-being and ecological outcomes for their stakeholders.

Practical implications

The evidence reveals that there are significant gaps in the literature on the topic and confirms that the field is still at its developmental stage. Hence, there is a need for more rigorous research on the topic to help develop a better understanding of this new field.


This study contributes by providing the first comprehensive review of sustainable HRM themes, methods and contextual focus and by proposing future research agenda. It, therefore, offers a valuable point of departure for those moving into the sustainable HRM domain, as well as valuable insights for those already working in this space.



The authors would like to appreciate the support provided by the Editor and the two anonymous reviewers.


Anlesinya, A. and Susomrith, P. (2020), "Sustainable human resource management: a systematic review of a developing field", Journal of Global Responsibility, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 295-324.

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