Fifteen Years of Strategic HRM Philosophy in Croatian Companies – has HR Department Evolved Into a Strategic Partner?


  • Nina Pološki Vokić


Strategic human resource management (SHRM), multiple-role HRM model, strategic partner, CRANET, Croatia.


Strategic human resource management (SHRM) means accepting the HRM function as a strategic partner, a
role popularized by Dave Ulrich in the mid-1990s. His well-known multiple-role HRM model encompassing four
HRM roles (administrative expert, employee champion, change agent and strategic partner) is one of the most
popular paradigms implying that HRM is a vital contributor to business strategy. A strategic HRM role is considered to be the ultimate stage in the evolution of HRM according to the contemporary theory, focusing on
aligning HRM goals, strategies and practices with business strategy in order to achieve organizational goals.
The paper explores the pace of transformation of HRM departments in Croatian companies from old “cadre”,
personnel departments with influential trade unions present in communist times, towards a strategic role of
HRM typical for companies having world-class high performance HRM practices suitable for free market systems. In the theoretical part of the paper SHRM and strategic partner concepts are described, while the empirical part of the paper presents longitudinal data on the presence of strategic HRM role in Croatian companies in the last fifteen years. SHRM indicators for 2001, 2005, 2012 and 2014 collected by the author using
representative samples of 500+ employees companies are presented and analyzed. Empirical findings revealed that although the field is firmly advancing, in general, the strategic component of HRM in Croatia is not
fully present – HR managers are not always top management members, formal HRM strategies are still not
omnipresent, and the relative number of HR professionals in organizations is not adequate for HRM activities
to be implemented properly.