Human Resources as a Business Partner − a qualitative study of cross-functional exchange in the professional partnership between HRBPs and line managers

University essay from Göteborgs universitet / / Institutionen för sociologi och arbetsvetenskap

Abstract: Changes in the external environment with demands for efficiency and organizational flexibility has challenged the traditional role of human resource management. In order to bring HR closer to the business, many organizations have implemented the HR business partner role which aims to effectively link HR and the business by forming close partnerships with line managers. The purpose of this thesis is to create an understanding for the partnership between HRBPs and line managers, with focus on cross-functional exchange and its perceived value. Consideration is also given to implications of the HRBP role in the studied organization as well as prerequisites for success of the partnership. Previous research has focused mainly on effectiveness of the HR-line partnership while there is a paucity of studies on its functional and structural properties. Addressing this lack of research, a social exchange theory perspective is applied to create an understanding for relational dynamics and individual perceptions of the partnership. This thesis is a qualitative case study based on the Arla Foods organization in Aarhus. Ten semi-structured interviews with HRBPs and managers at different levels form the base of this study. This gives in-depth data which is thematically analyzed to give a holistic view of the studied partnerships. Findings show that HRBPs performs predominantly on a strategic level, as trusted advisers to the managers based on a profound business acumen and HR expertise. Within the partnerships, cross-functional exchange involves a self-interest to develop in the professional role as well as a mutual-interest to increase performance which adds value on both an individual and organizational level. Results indicate high levels of trust and absence of claims to power as determinants for establishing and maintaining successful partnerships, with knowledge sharing as a mediating factor. Key words: HR business partners, HR-line partnership, HRM, social exchange theory, adding value

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