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21st century HR: a competency model for the emerging role of HR Analysts

Steven McCartney (Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Caroline Murphy (Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland)
Jean Mccarthy (Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 11 November 2020

Issue publication date: 9 July 2021



Drawing on human capital theory and the human capital resources framework, this study explores the knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics (KSAOs) required by the emerging role of human resource (HR) analysts. This study aims to systematically identify the key KSAOs and develop a competency model for HR Analysts amid the growing digitalization of work.


Adopting best practices for competency modeling set out by Campion et al. (2011), this study first analyzes 110 HR analyst job advertisements collected from five countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the USA. Second a thematic analysis of 12 in-depth semistructured interviews with HR analytics professionals from Canada and Ireland is then conducted to develop a novel competency model for HR Analysts.


This study adds to the developing and fast-growing field of HR analytics literature by offering evidence supporting a set of six distinct competencies required by HR Analysts including: consulting, technical knowledge, data fluency and data analysis, HR and business acumen, research and discovery and storytelling and communication.

Practical implications

The research findings have several practical implications, specifically in recruitment and selection, HR development and HR system alignment.


This study contributes to the evolving HR analytics literature in two ways. First, the study links the role of HR Analysts to human capital theory and the human capital resource framework. Second, it offers a timely and empirically driven competency model for the emerging role of HR Analysts.



The authors would like to express their appreciation to Associate Editor Professor Thomas Garavan and the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback and suggestions that significantly improved the paper. Additionally, the authors would like to thank the interview participants who generously shared their experiences and insight.Funding: The authors received no funding or financial support for this research.


McCartney, S., Murphy, C. and Mccarthy, J. (2021), "21st century HR: a competency model for the emerging role of HR Analysts", Personnel Review, Vol. 50 No. 6, pp. 1495-1513.



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