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HR Transformation in the Swedish context – global concepts, local adaptations

Paper i proceeding
Författare Anders Boglind
Freddy Hällsten
Per Thilander
Publicerad i the Dutch HRM Conference, VU University, Amsterdam, 13-14 November 2009
Sidor 15
Publiceringsår 2009
Publicerad vid Företagsekonomiska institutionen, Human Resource Management
Sidor 15
Språk en
Ämneskategorier Företagsekonomi


The globalization of the market for management ideologies means that same ideas are offered everywhere. This goes for ideas about management in general as well as for subsections like human resource management. What happens when a “global” HRM concept hits the ground? To what extent is it adapted to the local context? The basis for our discussion is data from an on-going research project where we describe and compare the way the concept and practice of HR Transformation has been adopted and adapted in seven big Swedish organisations. One main finding is that the complexity of the original ideas is reduced, resulting in a standard HRT concept, which is adopted by all of our organisations, irrespective of their business. When implemented the standard blueprint is adapted and the result is a variety of solutions, more or less related to the institutional context, national and corporate. Both the direction of the adaptations and the prospect for sustainability depends on the fit between the HRT and the institutional context. Some parts, like the centralized and system-supported shared service go well together with other dominating trends. Others, like the Business Partner role has less institutional support and may be difficult to sustain. In most cases the value adding aspect of HR Transformation gets a secondary role, and the capacity to cut costs and increase management control takes the upper hand. The practice of benchmarking and the urge for following “best practice” contributes to this process. Duplication of consultantsʼ recipes and imitation of companies considered to be role models has in most cases been the input to the adaption process. On the other hand, a few of the companies we have studied have been able to make their HRT journey to an integral part of their continued working methods. Where the HRT eventually lands is an open question. Neither theories nor recipes are objects; rather they are subjects that change when they are used. Further research including data from other countries may help us to a better answer.

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