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Green (environmental) HRM: aligning ideals with appropriate practices

Sarah Leidner (Business School, Bournemouth University, Poole, UK)
Denise Baden (Business School, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK)
Melanie J. Ashleigh (Business School, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 30 May 2019

Issue publication date: 22 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore how Green (environmental) Human Resource Management (GHRM) policies can elicit green employee behaviours. This study explores the role of sustainability advocates, who are leaders and managers in pursuit of their firm’s environmental agenda, in the design and delivery of GHRM policies, communication, recruitment and selection, environmental training, rewards and incentives.


In this qualitative study, eighteen semi-structured interviews with sustainability advocates in European firms were conducted and analysed.


GHRM practices are not in themselves peripheral, intermediate or embedded, but shaped by contextual situations. Sustainability advocates’ intentions do not seem to match GHRM policy design, i.e. they try to elicit value-based behaviours by using self-interest-based approaches, leading to misalignments between the attitudes and behaviours policies attempt to elicit, and the type of behaviours they elicit in practice.

Research limitations/implications

This study explores GHRM practice implementation experienced by leaders and managers. Further research on the role of the HR function and recipients of GHRM is needed.

Practical implications

Practitioners need to be aware that organisational incentives (GHRM policies) that reflect self-interest can lead to self-interest-based behaviour and may be short-lived. A careful consideration of contextual factors will inform the selection of suitable GHRM policies. Environmental training completion rates seem an unsuitable metric for senior management bonuses.


This paper investigates the design and implementation stage of GHRM, leading to an identification of GHRM policies as peripheral, intermediate or embedded. This creates an in-depth knowledge on the efficacy of GHRM policies and their relation to the environment.



The authors would thank the unnamed reviewers for their valuable comments and recommendations.


Leidner, S., Baden, D. and Ashleigh, M.J. (2019), "Green (environmental) HRM: aligning ideals with appropriate practices", Personnel Review, Vol. 48 No. 5, pp. 1169-1185.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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