Center for Effective Organizations

Working Paper

What Makes HR a Strategic Partner?

Edward E. Lawler III and John W. Boudreau, January 2009

For several decades, the HR function in corporations has been encouraged to become a strategic partner. Data from a longitudinal study of large corporations suggest that HR is not now a strategic partner and that little or no movement toward it becoming one has occurred. An analysis of what HR can do to become a strategic partner shows some clear actions that HR can take. These include talent development in HR, creating corporate centers of excellence, developing the right metrics and analytics, and perhaps most important, understanding how human capital management impacts business results. The results also show that there are a number of strategy activities that HR can be involved in and that to some degree, different factors influence how much HR is involved in each of them.

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