Human Resource Management as a Field of Research


  • *The authors are alphabetically ordered. This study has benefited from financing from the Research Project SEJ2004-01751/ECON of the Spanish Ministry of Science and the Research Group SEJ-449 of the Andalusian Government. The authors would like to thank British Journal of Management reviewers for their constructive comments on earlier versions of the paper.

Corresponding author email:


Drawing on Snow and Thomas's (Journal of Management Studies, 31 (1994), pp. 457–480) matrix, we empirically explore the state of the art in human resource management (HRM) research. The data were obtained through a questionnaire directed to HRM scholars all over the world, in which they were asked about their particular theoretical and methodological approaches. The evidence obtained shows clearly that HRM scholars are progressively abandoning the universalistic perspective and completing their models with contingent and contextual variables. Trying to classify the different contributions proposed and discuss their integration, HRM is described as a field of research with three dimensions: subfunctional, strategic and international. The paper concludes that to provide reliable explanations and valid responses to professional problems, HRM research must advance simultaneously in these three dimensions. As follows from our analysis, there are certain HR issues that still need to be addressed: (1) the strategic use of HR practices, (2) their international applicability, (3) global HR strategies and (4) the synergic integration of HR activities. Nevertheless, to advance our knowledge in these issues, it seems necessary to integrate previous research in subfunctional, strategic and international aspects of HRM.