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Practitioner talk: the changing textscape of HRM and emergence of HR business partnership

Keegan, Anne; Francis, Helen


Anne Keegan

Helen Francis


It has been evident for some time in mainstream HRM writing, that HR work is largely framed as a business issue, accelerated by new developments in technology and increasing pressures being placed on the function to enhance its contribution to the organisation, and at the same time be more cost effective. Our paper examines the implications of this, and contributes to current debate about what the redesign of HR work means for HR professional expertise, the definition of legitimate HR work activities, and changing relationships with employees and line managers. By foregrounding the language of HR practitioners as a force for change in how HR work is shaped, we deploy an approach rooted in critical discourse analysis to analyze practitioner up-take of concepts like HR business partnership at the level of speech, and how it interacts with broader social and material practices. We examine three main discursive themes from our analysis, to argue that critical engagement with the concept of HR business partnership is warranted as the business facing facets of HRM discursively swamp other concerns, notably about employee well-being and HR’s role in and responsibility for securing it.


Keegan, A., & Francis, H. (2010). Practitioner talk: the changing textscape of HRM and emergence of HR business partnership. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21, 873-898.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2010-05
Deposit Date Jun 14, 2012
Print ISSN 0958-5192
Electronic ISSN 1466-4399
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Pages 873-898
Keywords business partnership; CDA (critical discourse analysis); HR; transformation;
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