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Human Resource Management Review 19 (2009) 51–52

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Human Resource Management Review


j o u r n a l h o m e p a g e : w w w. e l s ev i e r. c o m / l o c a t e / h u m r e s

Special Issue

Emerging trends in human resource management theory and research

From time to time we believe that researchers need to pause and reflect on the status of theory and research in human resource
management (HRM). The reason is that this is the only way we can advance our field and ensure that we continue to make
important contributions to theory, research, and practice. In pursuit of this reflection, we conducted a series of HRM town meetings
over the last five years at professional conferences including the Academy of Management and Society for Industrial and
Organizational Psychology. The papers in this special issue are products of these discussions, representing some of the important
trends in our field. It merits noting that this is the second special issue in Human Resource Management Review emanating from
these town meetings. The first special issue was published in September 2008, and was titled “Critical Issues in Human Resource
Management Theory and Research.”
There are a total of eight papers in this issue that focus on a variety of emerging trends in our field. The first paper, by Juan
Sanchez and Edward Levine, deals with the difference between competency modeling and traditional job analysis. These authors
compare traditional job analysis and competency modeling in terms of six key dimensions: purpose (describe versus influence
behavior), view of job (job versus role), focus (job versus organization), time orientation (past versus future), performance level
(typical verus maximum), and measurement (latent trait verus clinical judgment). We believe that the ideas in this paper represent
an emerging trend because the authors argue that competency modeling can fill an important void in traditional job analysis, thus
suggesting a combination of these two approaches. The second paper is by Mark Lengnick-Hall, Cynthia Lengnick-Hall, Leticia
Andrade, and Brian Drake. These authors focused on the evolution of the field of strategic human resource management (SHRM).
They trace chronologically how the field has evolved over the past 30 years, focusing on seven themes: (1) explaining contingency
perspectives and fit, (2) shifting from a focus on managing people to creating strategic contributions, (3) elaborating HR system
components and structure, (4) expanding the scope of SHRM, (5) achieving HR implementation and execution, (6) measuring
outcomes of SHRM, and (7) evaluating methodological issues. Within each theme, they articulate some of the key research findings
that have played an important role in the evolution of the field. We believe this paper represents an emerging trend because the
authors highlight areas of research that have received little attention, and those that will help move the field of SHRM forward.
The next paper in this special issue concentrates on emerging issues in employee benefits, and is co-authored by James
Dulebohn, Janice Molloy, Shaun Pichler, and Brian Murray. Although employee benefits is certainly not a new issue in our field, the
authors note that there has been relatively little research on this critical topic in recent years. This is surprising because employee-
sponsored benefits often account for one-third of an organization's total labor costs, making it a primary concern to executives and
employees alike. Thus, we believe that employee benefits should be an emerging area in our field because there is a need for
research that can better guide practice. The fourth paper, by Eugene Stone-Romero, Kaye Alvarez, and Lori Foster Thompson,
examines the construct validity of conceptual and operational definitions of task and contextual performance. In recent years,
there has been considerable interest in contextual performance and the related constructs of organizational citizenship behaviors,
prosocial behaviors, and extra-role behaviors. Although the literature makes a distinction between task performance and
contextual performance, the authors suggest that those behaviors generally viewed as representative of contextual performance
are also frequently regarded as exemplars of task performance. We believe that this paper reflects an emerging interest area
because the authors provide a unique perspective on contextual performance-related research. They also offer key insights about
the implications of confounding definitions of task and contextual performance in our research.
The fifth paper, by Lynn Shore, Beth G. Chung-Herrera, Michelle A. Dean, Karen Holcombe Ehrhart, Don I. Jung, Amy E. Randel,
and Gangaram Singh, focuses on the all important issue of diversity in organizations. The authors examine research on six
dimensions of diversity – age, disability, gender, race, sexual orientation, and national origin – highlighting common themes across
those dimensions. It is clear that diversity will be a pivotal issue in this century, and we believe that this paper is extremely
important because the authors present an intriguing, new approach to this topic: an integrative model of diversity that provides
both theoretical and practical guidance. The next paper, by Dianna Stone and Kimberly Lukaszewski, presents an expanded model
of electronic human resource management systems (eHR). These authors argue that eHR systems are an emerging trend in the field
of HRM, and are propelling it in some entirely new directions. However, they also contend that there are problems inherent in the

1053-4822/$ – see front matter © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.hrmr.2009.01.001
52 Special Issue

design and implementation of these systems that limit their effectiveness. This paper is noteworthy, as evidenced by the modified
model of eHR systems that considers the degree to which communication processes affect the acceptance and effectiveness of
these systems. They also present directions for future research on this important topic.
The seventh paper, by Diana Deadrick and Pamela Gibson, presents an interesting analysis of the changes in HRM articles
published in the last 30 years. These authors seek to answer the question “What HRM issues have dominated our field in the past
and present?” In addition, they address the extent to which the HRM research-practice gap has narrowed or widened over time.
Their results show that HRM development and staffing have been the dominant themes in our research throughout the last three
decades, with no appreciable research-practice gap on these topics. However, the authors identify several research trends that
warrant further examination, such as reasons behind the increasing research-practice gap regarding Compensation-related topics,
and the decreasing gap regarding Employee/Labor Relations-related topics. The final paper in the issue, by Mark Suazo, Patricia
Martinez and Rudy Sandoval, concentrates on the differences between psychological and legal employment contracts. Although
there has been considerable research on psychological contracts in recent years, there is some confusion in the literature about the
differences between these two types of contracts. The authors address this confusion by presenting a framework for understanding
the differences and considering the means by which human resource practices (e.g., recruitment, performance management,
employee handbooks) influence employees' perceptions of psychological and legal contracts. Given the growing numbers of layoffs
in the United States, this paper focuses on one of the most salient trends for this decade, providing a unique perspective on
employment contract issues in a changing environment.
In summary, we believe that this special issue offers several intriguing views on emerging research trends for human resource
management. We hope that it stimulates additional research on these issues. We want to express our sincere appreciation to
Rodger Griffeth for giving us the opportunity to edit this special issue. Without his support and encouragement, this issue of
Human Resource Management Review would not have been possible. In addition, we want to express our thanks to the members
of the HRMR editorial board and others who served as ad hoc reviewers for this special issue (Derek Avery, James Breaugh, Hal
Gueutal, Kimberly Lukaszewki, Janet Marler, Patrick McKay, and Eugene Stone-Romero). We hope you will enjoy reading these
papers as much as we did.

Diana L. Deadrick
Department of Management, College of Business and Public Administration,
Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529-0223, United States
Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 757 683 4224.
E-mail address: deadrick@verizon.net, ddeadric@odu.edu.

Dianna L. Stone
Department of Management, College of Business, University of Texas at San Antonio,
One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249, United States
Tel.: +1 210 497 4965.
E-mail address: Diannastone@satx.rr.com, Dianna.Stone@utsa.edu.