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Human Resource Management Essay

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The International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol. 20, No. 5, May 2009, 1113–1131

Strategic human resources management is irrelevant when it comes to highly skilled professionals in the Canadian new economy
´ ´ Stephanie Chasserioa and Marie-Josee Legaultb*

Lille School of Management Research Center, Lille, France; bLabor Relations, ´ Teluq-UQAM, France

The goal of this paper is to explain the commitment behaviour of highly skilled professionals in Canadian business-to-business (B2B) technology services companies that do not have a formal and explicit managerial commitment strategy and to emphasize the need to take the organizational context into consideration when developing a theory that seeks to account for differences in employee’s organizational commitment. Our contribution is to reappraise the relevance of the traditional organizational commitment definition in this organizational context, a new organizational form. We demonstrate that in the companies which are different from the traditional bureaucratic organizational forms and which employ highly qualified professionals, the employment relationship is based on a psychological contract that is not accounted for in the strategic HRM theory. Indeed, the basic principles of strategic HRM dictate that an organization’s most valuable asset is its employees; it is therefore incumbent on management to do whatever is necessary to retain its workforce, readily described as a key resource, and to use human resources management (HRM) practices as tools to elicit commitment. In a study of highly skilled workers in Canadian business-to-business (B2B) technology services companies belonging to the so-called ‘new economy’, we observed that although the competitive advantage enjoyed by these companies depends to a large degree on the creativity and innovativeness of their workforce, these companies barely have any official HRM policies, and the HR department plays a very unobtrusive role. Yet, no one...

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