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Small firms, owner managers and (strategic?) human resource management

Atkinson, Carol ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3795-7442, Lupton, Ben ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0822-3033, Kynighou, Anastasia ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5170-7722 and Antcliff, Val (2021) Small firms, owner managers and (strategic?) human resource management. Human Resource Management Journal. ISSN 0954-5395

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Abstract

The focus of much strategic human resource management (SHRM) research has been large firms and there are questions as to the applicability of existing SHRM models in small firms that have different modes of operation, particularly where owner managers dominate and human resource (HR) specialists are largely absent. There is nevertheless growing evidence that SHRM can be effective in small firms. To develop understanding, this paper uses qualitative data from a project that delivered HR support services to small firms to explore why HR practices exist and how they operate. Owner manager responses to cues prompted take up of HR support and developing their understanding and confidence led to implementation of both routine and progressive HR practices. Owner managers engaged in sense making to navigate the associated dynamics of formality. We present a model of SHRM in the small firm context, incorporating HR support services as an important contribution.

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