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New Frontiers in HR Practices and HR Processes

Karin Sanders, Lynda Jiwen Song, Zhen Wang and Timothy Colin Bednall

Objectives of the special issue

In Bowen and Ostroff’s (2004) seminal article, they argued that lack of clarity regarding the relationship between HR practices and (employee and organizational) performance was the predominant question of HR research. Consequently, theory and research has begun to study the process by which HR practices are implemented to understand their relationship with performance (see for example, Ostroff & Bowen, 2016; Sanders, Shipton & Gomes, 2014). Bowen and Ostroff (2004) emphasized the need to adopt an HR process approach that considers the implementation of HR by (line) managers and employees’ perceptions and understanding of HR. Since that time, scholars have explored the psychological process by which employees attach meaning to HR. They have sought to understand the role of employee perceptions of the implementation—also known as HR strength—and employee beliefs of organizations’ intentions behind the implementation of HR practices, also known as HR attributions. Despite more attention paid to the HR process research, issues remain on the conceptualization and measurement of these relatively new constructs.

In addition to these developments in the HR process research, there are also remaining questions in the HR practices research. For instance, Boon, Den Hartog & Lepak (2019) suggest that the increasingly broad conceptualization and measurement of HR systems and the lack of clarity on the HR systems construct at different levels have hampered research progress. They also conclude that much of the research to date does not align with the fundamental assumption of synergies between HR practices in a system. In addition, the measures have problems and increasingly confound HR systems with related concepts and outcomes, and insufficient attention is paid to the HR system construct at different levels.

In this Special Call for Papers we ask for commentaries, case studies, opinion pieces and qualitative and quantitative articles on next steps in the HR practices and processes research.  We encourage papers that explore various aspects of HR practices and processes but not necessarily restricted to any of the following topics.

1. How are the intended, the implemented and the experienced HR practices related, and how do personal, work, leadership, and organizational factors influence these relationships?

2. How will organizational culture, leadership of senior and line managers influence employees’ perceptions, understanding and attributions of HR practices?

3. What are the roles of employees' characteristics such as proactivity, personality and learning goal orientation in HR process, including perceptions, understanding and attributions?

4. What are the impacts of national cultural values in HR process, including perceptions, understanding and attributions?

5. How does a strategy-oriented HR system (e.g., service-oriented, safety-oriented, innovation-oriented, and green HRM) work for organizations, teams, and employees?

6. How does ethics-related HR system (e.g., sustainable HRM, socially responsible HRM) influence multiple stakeholders?

7. How can HR system reach a mutual gain between organizational performance and employee well-being?

8. How does collectivism-oriented HRM and guanxi HRM work in the Chinese context and beyond?

9. How HR systems and practices should be conceptualized and measured at different levels and from different perspectives?

10. How should HR systems be designed and implemented to adapt to the current and future situations (e.g., COVID-19, VUCA times, the shared economy, the gig economy, and the new normal of China’s economy)?


Boon, C., Den Hartog, D. N., & Lepak, D. P. (2019). A systematic review of human resource management systems and their measurement. Journal of Management, 45, 2498-2537.

Bowen, D., & Ostroff, C. (2004). Understanding HRM-performance linkages: The role of ‘strength’ of the HRM system. Academy of Management Review, 29, 203-221.

Hewett, R., Shantz, A., Mundy, J., & Alfes, K. (2018). Attribution theories in human resource management research: A review and research agenda. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 29, 87-126.

Nishii, L., Lepak, D., & Schneider, B. (2008). Employee attributions of the ‘why’ of HR practices: Their effects on employee attitudes and behaviors, and customer satisfaction. Personnel Psychology, 61, 503-545.

Ostroff, C., & Bowen, D. (2016). Reflections on the 2014 Decade Award: Is there strength in the construct of HR system strength? Academy of Management Review, 41, 196-214.

Sanders, K., Shipton, H., & Gomes, J. (2014). Is HR process important? Past, current and future challenges. Human Resource Management, 53, 489-503.

Important dates for the special issue

Deadline for submission: December 31, 2020

(Virtual) FBR Symposium on New Frontiers in HR practices and processes: October 23, 2020

Deadline for R&R: April 28, 2021

Tentative publication date: November 30, 2021

The submission deadline is December 31, 2020. However, any new submission will be processed with double-blind peer review immediately. To submit a paper, please go to FBR’s SpringerOpen website: When submit your paper, please select “New Frontiers in HR Practices and HR Processes” under “Thematic Series” to be included in this special call.

Guest Editorial Team

Karin Sanders is professor of Human Resources and Organizational Behavior at the UNSW Australia Business School, and Head of School of Management. Her research focuses on the HRM process approach -in particular, the impact of employees’ perceptions and understanding (attributions) of HRM on their attitudes and behaviours. Her research has been published in such scholarly outlets as the Journal of Vocational Behavior, Organizational Studies, HRM, HRMJ, and Academy of Management Learning & Education. Karin is the editor for Special Issues International Journal of HRM and is an associate editor for Human Resource Management (Wiley) and Frontiers in Business Research in China.

Address: School of Management, UNSW Australia Business School, Sydney, Australia,

Lynda Jiwen Song is a professor at the Business School, University of Leeds. She received her PhD in organizational management from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Her research interests include leadership, employment relationship, creativity, emotional intelligence, and diversity. Her research has appeared in the Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Management, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Management and Organization Review, Human Relations, Human Resource Management, and Frontiers of Business Research in China.

Address: Business School, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK,

Zhen Wang is professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management at the Business School, Central University of Finance and Economics. He received his PhD in human resource management from Renmin University of China. His research interests include ethics- and service-oriented leadership and human resource management. His research has appeared in the Human Relations, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Leadership Quarterly, Journal of Business Ethics, International Journal of Human Resource Management, among others.

Address: Business School, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing, China,

Timothy Colin Bednall is an organisational psychologist and HRM/OB academic. He joined the Department of Management and Marketing at Swinburne University in February 2014. He previously worked at the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales. He has also worked in industry for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and Chandler Macleod. He is the former national Chair of the APS College of Organisational Psychologists (2015-2018). Dr Bednall's broad research area is employee learning and innovation, and how these activities may be encouraged through human resource management. His research has appeared in Human Resource Management, the Journal of Applied Psychology, Academy of Management Learning and Education, and the British Journal of Management.

Address: Department of Management and Marketing, Swinburne University, Australia,

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