A browse through the business section of any quality newspaper will reveal a ubiquitous use of the word ‘strategy’. When supermarket Tesco faced flattened profits to 1 per cent of turnover, newspaper columnist Paul Mason wrote that Tesco’s boss Dave Lewis was sticking to the ‘strategy’ of making Tesco stores the single ‘destination’ where customers did much or all of their shopping. In search of a new strategy, Mason suggested that Lewis should look to Tesco’s most vibrant asset: their employees. ‘Everything in the physical architecture of a big supermarket is designed to make the workforce invisible; customer interactions are fleeting; when a person on the till suddenly cracks a pleasantry or reveals some personal detail, it is – in most supermarket groups – as if an unwritten code had been broken. So I would do something that rewarded the workforce for unleashing their wit, knowledge and expertise on the actual customers’ (Mason, 2015a, p. S5, courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd). If Tesco and other supermarkets followed Mason’s advice, they would be looking to change their corporate and HR strategies, which, along with corporate strategy, is the focus of this chapter. Introduction The idea that employees’ ‘wit, knowledge and expertise’ can play a strategic role in achieving competitive goals is the essence of a field of research labelled ‘strategic’ human resource management, or SHRM. Just as the term ‘human resource management’ has been contested, so too has the notion of SHRM.
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