module specification

HR6005 - HRM:Strategic Context and Process (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title HRM:Strategic Context and Process
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Individual academic essay of 2000 words.
Coursework 30%   Analytical report of 2500 words based on a case study.
Unseen Examination 50%   Two hour unseen exam based on seen article
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

The module will build on existing knowledge and understanding of HRM acquired from modules undertaken at Levels 4 and 5 and will introduce students to concepts , theoretical debates and empirical research in the area of strategic human resource management. The implications and issues highlighted by these will then be considered from an academic and practitioner perspective thus highlighting possibilities, limitations and tensions within the strategic HRM literature.

The module will also position SHRM perspectives and issues within a wider business and strategic framework in order to illustrate that SHRM initiatives and practices do not take place in a vacuum, but as   part of a broader strategic and relational framework. Central themes are therefore environment, organisation strategy and HRM relationships, and HR strategies and operational practice. A focus is also given to the need for integration within HRM and between HRM and other business activities in complex and dynamic business environments.

The module will be assessed using two individual written assignments one of which will be case study based, and an end of module examination.

Teaching will adopt a traditional format of lectures and seminars.

Module aims

The module aims to develop students analytical and critical thinking skills through the introduction and exploration of competing and contrasting perspectives of strategy and strategic HRM within the literature. A further aim is to develop knowledge and understanding of debates concerning HRM strategies and practices, their contribution to organisation and employee performance and the problems and complexities around assessing and measuring this. A final aim is to examine how a strategic HRM approach can be operationalised within different types of organisations and to explore the implications for HRM practitioners, their job roles and areas of responsibility.

The aims taken collectively aim to develop students’ skills in the following areas: Research and data analysis, academic reading and writing, critical thinking, communicating, problem solving and decision-making, commercial awareness and skills and capabilities required by HR practitioners.


The syllabus can be broken down into four main themes.

1.  The importance of context within HRM

  • Systems of governance and models of capitalism, HRM in different national contexts.
  • Agency theory, institutional theory and rational choice theory.
  • Understanding the environment, systems and contingency theory.
  • Perspectives on the employment relationship, labour process theory.
  • Environmental changes and developments and their impact on the external and internal labour market.

2. Strategic management and strategic relationships.

  • Perspectives of strategy and strategic decision-making.
  • Strategic analysis, stakeholder and resource dependency theory.
  • Strategic choice and implementation.
  • Strategy, structure, culture relationships and implications for HRM.

3. HRM philosophy and form

  • Contingency, ‘best-practice’, and resource based HRM perspectives. The people and performance model.
  • HRM in different organisational contexts. Public/private,  large/SME’s, unionised/non-unionised organisations.
  • Issues in international HRM: Convergence and difference -  universalist and culturalist perspectives.
  • HR strategies and operational practices.
  • The control/commitment debate and employee voice and engagement dilemmas.
  • Knowledge management and learning.
  • HR metrics. Measuring performance and contribution, frameworks and critiques.
  • Employment ethics and social responsibility.

4. The HR practitioner

  • The CIPD perspective of HRM and issues this raises.
  • Role of the HR practitioner, Ulrich and Storey. Issues and tensions arising within this.
  • HR professional competencies and skills.
  • The changing nature of work and employment.
  • The future for HR.

Learning and teaching

The learning and teaching strategy will incorporate blended learning elements alongside a traditional lecture and seminar format. Lecture input will be complemented by podcasts and other appropriate media and web based resources in order to facilitate and support student learning. These will be available on Weblearn and utilised in class based sessions and for independent study.
Case studies, seminar based discussions and activities, directed reading and examples of contemporary organisational practices will be utilised to ensure currency and to allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and problem solving skills. These will allow students to reflect on their own learning and understanding of key issues and debates and will provide opportunities for formative feedback and guidance from the tutor.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will be able to:

  1. Identify key external and internal factors that create the strategic context and shape and influence strategic decision-making in organisations
  2. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different perspectives and key areas of controversy within the strategic management and strategic HRM literature.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the assumptions and awareness of the theoretical criticisms of the main HRM models, and of the practices associated with HRM in different types of organisations.
  4. Analyse critically the use and application of a range of HR strategies designed to improve employee and organisational performance.
  5. Identify and critically discuss issues and concerns relating to the measurement of performance and the value adding contribution of HR strategies and interventions.
  6. Demonstrate an increased awareness of HR practitioner roles, responsibilities and competencies within contemporary organisations, the tensions and implications of this for professionals employed in this field.

Assessment strategy

Assessment will consist of three elements and will allow students to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes and generic critical, analytical and problem solving skills.  The assessments will take the form of an examination and two pieces of individual coursework the first of which will be an academic essay. This essay will allow the achievement of learning outcomes 1 and 2
The second piece of individual coursework will require students to analyse a case and produce an analytical report based on the strategic management/strategic HR approach and practices within the case study organisation. This assessment will be aligned to learning outcomes 2,3, 4 and 5.
The third and final assessment will be a two hour unseen examination which will have one compulsory question relating to a seen article and four additional questions developed from across the module. Students will be required to answer two questions in addition to the compulsory question. The examination questions will be aligned to learning outcomes and 6 and be integrative.


Boxall, P. and Purcell, J. (2011) Strategy and Human Resource Management (3rd ed), Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
Boxall, P. Purcell, J. and Wright, P. (eds)(2008) The Oxford Book of Human Resource Management, Oxford, Oxford University Press
Bratton, J. and Gold, J. (2007) Human Resource Management: Theory and Practice (4th ed), Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
Cambell, D. Edgar, D. and Stonehouse, G. (2011) Business Strategy: An Introduction (3rd ed), Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
Edwards, P. and Wajcman, J. (2005) The Politics of Working Life, Oxford, Oxford University Press
Farnham, D. (2010) Human Resource Management in Context, Strategy, Insights & Solutions, London, CIPD
Farnham, D (2005) Managing in a Strategic Business Environment, London , CIPD
Gilmore, S. and Williams, S. (2012) Human Resource Management (2nd ed.), Oxford, Oxford University Press
Johnson, G. Scholes, K. and Whittington, R. (2013) Exploring Corporate Strategy: Text and Cases (10th ed), Harlow, F/T Prentice Hall
Kew, J & Stredwick, J (2013) Human Resource Management in a Business Context, London, CIPD
Kramer, R & Syed, J (2012) Human Resource Management in a Global Context, A Critical Approach, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.
Legge, K. (2005) Human Resource Management: Rhetorics and Realities (Anniversary Edition), Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
Marchington, M. and Wilkinson, A. (2012) Human Resource Management at Work, London, CIPD
McKenna, E. and Beech, N. (2008) Human Resource Management: A Concise Analysis (2nd ed), Harlow, F/T Prentice Hall
Morrison, J (2011) The Global Business  Environment, meeting the challenges 3rd ed), Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
Parry, E; Stavrou, E. & Lazarova, M. (2013) Global trends in Human Resource Management, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.
Roper, I. Prouska, R. and Chatkul Na Aydhya, U. (eds) (2010) Critical Issues in Human Resource Management, London, CIPD
Salaman, G. Storey, J. and Billsberry, J. (2005) Strategic Human Resource Management Theory and Practice: A Reader, London, Sage
Storey, J. (ed) (2007) Human Resource Management: A Critical Text, London, F/T Prentice Hall
The Aston Centre for Human Resource Management (2008) Strategic Human Resource Management, London, CIPD
Thompson, P. and McHugh, K. (2009) Work Organisations (2nd ed), Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
Thompson, P. and Smith, C. (eds) (2010) Working Life: Reviewing Labour Process Analysis, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan
Wetherley, P and Otter, D. (2014) The Business Environment (3rd ed.), Oxford, Oxford University Press

Selected Journals Available Electronically :
Harvard Business Review
Human Resource Management Journal
International Journal of Human Resource Management
IRS Employment Review
Journal of Management Studies
Work, Employment and Society