Chapter Overview. This first chapter provides a broad overview of the strategic human resource challenges organizations face, and provides a framework to understand the role of human resource strategies, activities, and programs to achieve sustained competitive advantage.  To support this broad perspective, some of the most important external and internal challenges vis-à-vis HR strategies are discussed in three categories: environmental challenges, organizational challenges, and individual challenges.  The chapter explains the planning and implementation of strategic HR policies, as well as the role of line managers and the HR department in the effective use of human resources.  Also explored here is how managers, in partnership with human resource professionals, adopt and implement HR strategies through specific strategies and programs.  HR professionals are often responsible for designing these programs in order to meet business goals and employee needs.  Although the line managers provide the necessary input during the program design phase, they are primarily responsible for carrying out or implementing such programs.  This chapter provides a strong overview of how firms can use HR strategies and initiatives to deal with external and internal challenges, which are then explored in detail in later chapters.

After reading this chapter, you should be able to deal more effectively with the following challenges:

  • Understand the major challenges affecting HR.
  • Develop competence in planning and implementing strategic HR policies.
  • Develop competence in selecting HR strategies to increase firm performance.
  • Become aware of HR best practices.
  • Understand the need to establish a close partnership between the HR department and managers.
  • Recognize career opportunities in various human resources management subfields.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you understand the key terms on page 36.

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