Becoming an HR strategic partner: tales of transition

Pritchard, Katrina (2010). Becoming an HR strategic partner: tales of transition. Human Resource Management Journal, 20(2) pp. 175–188.



This article aims to bridge the gap between previous examinations of HR strategic partnership from a role perspective and an emerging interest in the social construction of identity. I consider ‘strategic partner’ as a local, flexible social construction framed by the broader occupational context. Based on a year-long ethnographic study, I examine the experiences of HR practitioners ‘becoming’ strategic partners, considering the themes of becoming strategic, becoming a partner and remaining a generalist. Practitioners depict becoming strategic as a ‘release’ from previous constraints, with becoming a partner positioned as filling a gap created by clients' deficiencies in people management. Meanwhile, tensions develop as strategic partners attempt to retain a say in transactional issues. I reflect on the resulting practical issues while also considering the role of HR practitioners in, in the words of Helen Francis, ‘the dynamic and socially complex nature of HRM’.

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