Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19 – 37 www.socscinet.

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Research in e-HRM: Review and implications
Stefan Strohmeier ⁎
Chair for Management Information Systems, Saarland University, Postfach 151150, 66041 Saarbrücken/Germany

Abstract This article reviews current empirical work on electronic Human Resource Management (e-HRM) and discusses some implications for future research. Based on a definition and an initial framework the review analyzes the used theories, the employed empirical methods, the chosen levels of analysis, the examined topics, and the revealed findings. The review reveals an initial body of work from several disciplines, that is mainly non-theoretical, employs diverse empirical methods, and refers to several levels of analysis and to diverse focal topics of e-HRM. Based on the review some initial theoretical, methodical, and topical implications are discussed in order to support a future research program in e-HRM. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Electronic HRM; e-HRM; Virtual HRM; Web-based HRM; Internet; Human resource information system

1. Introduction The rapid development of the Internet during the last decade has also boosted the implementation and application of electronic Human Resource Management (e-HRM). Surveys of HR consultants suggest that both the number of organizations adopting e-HRM and the depth of applications within the organizations are continually increasing (e.g. CedarCrestone, 2005). In addition, an escalating number of practitioner reports provide anecdotal evidence that e-HRM is becoming increasingly common and may lead to remarkable changes (e.g. Anonymous, 2001). Consequently, academic interest in e-HRM has increased, as several special issues of HR-related journals demonstrate (Stanton & Coovert, 2004; Townsend & Bennett, 2003; Viswesvaran, 2003). In the interim, there is an initial body of empirical research in e-HRM. However, since this research stems from several disciplines and is scattered throughout numerous journals and since initial reviews are not encompassing (Anderson, 2003; Lievens & Harris 2003; Welsh, Wanberg, Brown, & Simmering, 2003), the results of these studies remain unclear at present. The purpose of this paper is therefore to provide a review of this literature and to identify implications for future research that can enhance the understanding of e-HRM. Since it is beyond the scope of this paper, research in adjacent fields, especially in virtual teams (Hertel, Geister, & Konrad, 2005) and e-leadership (Avolio, Kahai, & Dodge, 2000) is not considered. After presenting a definition of e-HRM and discussing related concepts in brief, a first framework for systematizing e-HRM related topics is introduced. Subsequently, current empirical research is reviewed. In particular, the review
⁎ Tel.: +49 681 30264751. E-mail address: s.strohmeier@mis.uni-saarland.de. 1053-4822/$ - see front matter © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.hrmr.2006.11.002

The few detectable definitions (Lengnick-Hall & Moritz. “Virtual HRM” refers to technological mediated networks of different internal and external actors providing the firm with the HR services needed without the further existence of a conventional HR department which therefore becomes “virtual”. This concept highlights several crucial aspects of e-HRM.20 S. is particularly web-orientated. Widely accepted are such terms as virtual HR(M) (e. e-HRM utilizes information technology in a twofold manner: First. configuration and consequences of e-HRM. Framework At the current stage of research.. The shared performing of tasks through at least two actors' points out that the sharing of HR activities is an additional feature and underlines the aspect of interaction and networking. web-based HR(M) (e. At the outset. Beside e-HR(M). the shared performing of an application process by a conventional HR department and an applicant via the Internet. but also comprises additional technologies like networked ERP-Systems. e-HRM is additionally open to less developed varieties of technology application. 2004). The planning aspect accentuates the systematic and anticipated way of applying information technology.1 there are hardly any explicit definitions. methodical and topical implications are discussed in order to support a future research program in e-HRM. the examined topics and the findings determined.g. technology supports actors by partially – and sometimes even completely – substituting for them in executing HR activities. some initial theoretical. in order to comprehensively embrace relevant aspects.. there are collective actors like groups. Ruël. 2003. the chosen levels of analysis. i. Individual actors are interacting in groups within organizations that interact with other organizations. 1). Any framework should accommodate the fact that e-HRM is a multilevel phenomenon by its very nature. the following definition of e-HRM can be specified: e-HRM is the (planning. 2004). besides individual actors. “business-to-employee” reduces the concept to the internal actor categories of “business” (presumably line managers and HR professionals) and “employees”. 2004) are rather general and emphasize the Internet-supported way of performing HR policies and/or activities. Lepak & Snell.g. implementation and) application of information technology for both networking and supporting at least two individual or collective actors in their shared performing of HR activities. proposing that the configuration will determine the consequences of e-HRM. As the most relevant levels. these further terms undoubtedly direct attention to main characteristics of the same phenomenon but are of somewhat narrower intensions. The consideration of individual and collective actors takes into account that e-HRM is a multilevel phenomenon. 1998). Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 analyzes the theories used. In contrast. Based on the review. Jin.. Definition and framework 2.1. Thus. as well. 2.g.. technology is necessary to connect usually spatially segregated actors and enable interactions between them irrespective of their working in the same room or on different continents. To sum up. Huang. e-HRM.g. The term “e-HRM” is used within this paper irrespective of possible rights on the part of Watson Wyatt. Definition Even though the e-HRM concept is widely used today. Ruël et al.2. a general framework matching the above definition and based on insights from previous conceptual work is considered as most appropriate to structure the relevant topics of e-HRM research. In short. Leaning on these intensions. The consultancy Watson Wyatt Worldwide has gained legal protection of the term “eHR” as a trademark. Second. Hence. e-HRM is open to further relevant actor categories like applicants or consultants. Bondarouk. organizational units and even whole organizations that interact in order to perform HR activities. & Yang. the e-HRM term is used. 1 . technology serves as a medium with the aim of connection and integration. e. & Looise. 2. the framework distinguishes between context. information technology serves additionally as a tool for task fulfillment. or business-toemployee (“B2E”) (e. Finally. there are some further concepts which obviously refer to the same phenomenon. while both configuration and consequences may be preceded and moderated by contextual factors (see Fig. “Web-based HRM” couples the concept to Internet technologies.e. empirical methods employed.

that are performed in order to provide and deploy the needed human resources. configuration and consequences as well as between macro. activities and technology of e-HRM are considered. google. the existence. of such relationships should clearly be subject to research. 2002). configuration and consequences. such as reducing costs or alleviating administrative burdens.and micro-level. delineate a crucial aspect. HR professionals. Though HRM is a non-technical discipline. and hence are of vital importance. comprising the ability to contribute to overall organizational performance. on the individual level computer availability. any framework should be able to capture the range of different configurations. too. line managers. the technology of e-HRM like portals. applicants. Stueber. relational and/or transformational (Snell. Taken together.. Micro-level consequences refer to individual impacts like user satisfaction or acceptance.com) and several online data bases (ABI/Inform. Having mapped the e-HRM context and configuration. At first. Relational consequences emphasize phenomena of interacting and networking of different actors. Besides individual actors on the micro-level. Business Source Premier and INFODATA). Operational consequences refer to efficiency and effectiveness outcomes of e-HRM (Lengnick-Hall & Moritz. 1. Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 21 Fig. therefore different actors constitute a configurational component.S. Since there is no single and standardized version of eHRM but a variety of practical applications.g. Identification of studies In order to identify empirical studies with e-HRM as main focus. we used a scholarly Internet search engine (scholar. Framework. contextual factors are obviously of relevance for e-HRM. Review 3. kind. In particular. Actors of e-HRM are all those who (plan. employees. or attitudes of peer groups may constitute relevant contextual factors. eHRM strategy – as a component of a functional HRM strategy – refers to the establishing of constitutive objectives and the implementation of e-HRM. consultants. while the organizational level may be affected by contextual factors like culture or legal conditions. etc. implement and) perform e-HRM. that cover all .and the macro-level. compensation and benefits. macro-level consequences can be structured into operational. organizational units and even whole organization are incorporated on the macro level. the framework assumes multiple relations within and between context. self-service systems. The transformational consequences aim at fundamental transformations concerning the general scope and the function of HRM. For instance. It therefore builds a central topic to understanding decision processes that lead to certain arrangements. & Lepak. In addition. As a minimal model able to map different configurations on different levels. strategy.1. like recruiting and selection. training and development. actors. etc. an analysis of these components and their interactions allows a systematic depiction of any existent e-HRM configuration. should be of interest. Leaning on previous conceptual work. whether helpful or harmful. Consequences again occur on the micro. e-HRM activities encompass the single HR functions. the framework generally distinguishes the individual or micro-level and the macro-level of context. 2003). Thus. etc. the actual consequences of e-HRM. 3. collective actors like groups. etc. the HR-related properties and functionalities of the employed technology are of interest. as e. etc. direction.

these studies are mostly exploratory in nature. 1992) were not considered. 2004). e-learning. Ash. et al.. Brown Levy.. 2003). 2003). Lepak. surveys often are rather descriptive orientated (e. Thus.22 S. 2003) are used to frame again problems of individual reactions and usage. Underlining that e-HRM is a rather new and growing academic field. Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 leading journals not only in the fields of human resource and general management but also in information systems.g. signaling theory (Cober. and the theory of usability (Williamson. 2005). As the beginnings of e-HRM actually date back a decade. van Hoye. Even acknowledging a broad intension of theory. West & Berman. 2004)..g. 2003). reference sections of articles found were searched. 2004).g. In addition.. was excluded. 2005). 2001). there are several disciplines that contribute to e-HRM research. the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (Ruta. 3.. only one-fifth of the studies rest on theoretical bases.. & King. Dineen et al. Often. there are also innovative approaches. Lipak. applicants (e. 2004). Predominantly. the theories employed are also quite diverse. To keep the task manageable and to provide some guarantee of quality research. For instance. etc.g.. Besides studies that are based on samples of “real” actors such as HR professionals (e. while one study rests on an already existing population survey (Kuhn & Skuterud.. 2000). recognized macro-level theories of HRM (Wright & McMahan. Attribution theory and correspondence inference theory (Elgin & Clapham. In total. As a rule. & King. In addition. Vaughan & MacVicar. diverse in nature and often eclectic in application. 2004) or employees (e. there is an ambiguity concerning theories. Yang. & Chiu. (management) information systems and general management journals. etc. change management theories (Ruta. beside the main term e-HRM and its variations. research published since 1995 was regarded. several perspectives are employed in an eclectic manner. The field lacks any leading paradigm. The technology acceptance model (Huang. The theories applied are micro-level oriented. 3. Next to surveys. a learning theory is adopted to compare instructor-led and web-based learning (Coppola & Myre. Jin. 2003). In addition. & Noe. Presumably due to the recency of the field. conference or working papers. 2003) and lead to some problems of properly delimitating surveys from experiments. Since e-HRM constitutes a rather new and unknown field. 2003). Nearly half of the studies found stem from human resource management journals followed by organizational and industrial psychology journals. a second major approach is case studies (n = 16) within one (e. Welle-Strand & Thune. 2004) or several organizations (e. & Wang. 2003). a conceptual IT-framework is used to structure e-HRM impacts on HR-professionals (Gardner. current empirical research in e-HRM is mainly non theoretical. Jin.. some theories stemming from information systems research are used. 2004). Besides conventional data collection designs. the possibility of polling applicants within an Internet job board was used for collecting data electronically (Jattuso & Sinar. 2002). privacy theories (Harris. only studies published in refereed international journals were considered. procedural justice theory (Dineen. 2002). 57 relevant studies could be identified (a synopsis of the studies can be obtained by contacting the author).2. & Cober 2003). All of them are cross sectional.. the vast majority of the studies was published within the last four years. Chapman & Webster. Methodological approaches More than a third of the studies use a survey approach (n = 21).g. we used 47 search terms. 2004). Jin. there is a larger subset of surveys based on student respondents (e. as well as industrial and organizational psychology. Theoretical perspectives Given different interpretations and assessments of theory. frameworks and other phenomenological conceptualizations. 2003). Corresponding to the diverse disciplines and topics. the attraction–selection–attrition and the similarity–attraction paradigm (Dineen. One single study pursues a microeconomic approach to explain e-employment markets (Nissen & Gates. while empirical tests of clearly articulated theories or models are scarce (e. and technology oriented terms like HR-portal. et al. etc.. as anticipated. most of the studies are primary surveys. Noe. Interestingly. the recently developing field of e-business. Harris et al.. In brief.3. Huang. & Bartol. These “surrogate samples” elicit critique concerning the external validity of findings (Anderson. Work published in books. employee self service.g.. 2003) are adopted in order to explain individual perceptions and reactions arising from e-HRM. case studies yield valuable and . mainly activity-oriented terms like e-recruiting. & Lievens.g. as well as social cognitive theory (Williamson. As intended by this approach. Using this procedure. Additionally. studies rely on single source respondents and frequently use perceptual measures.g. Lepak. Wiechmann & Ryan. micro-level theories of psychological and behavioral provenance are adopted. Also. organizational citizenship behavior (Huang.

the following review draws on the proposed framework. 3. it comes as no surprise that studies of psychological provenance predominately address the individual level by examining psychological issues like privacy concerns (e. 2003). 2004). 2005). nearly a quarter of the studies use an experimental approach (n = 13). Studies using an action research approach could not be identified. Yang et al. 1996).5. current research concentrates on specific rather than on general topics. Rather.. two studies were identified as using an approach adjacent to action research (e. & Joder. 1994). 2004).g. intend to consider context. 2002). Studies that aim at the complete picture of e-HRM. contextual aspects are occasionally incorporated as variables that explain or moderate configuration and consequences. Minette. Using the micro-macro-dichotomy as proposed by the framework. Joy. i. Firstly. Thus. the cultural and (inter-)national context is considered within some studies. In . the theories employed and. there are some intersections to the survey approach. current research in e-HRM generally demonstrates a low degree of level awareness.. At the outset.1.g. Levels of analysis Necessarily. On the other hand. 2004). & Foster. 2003) or user satisfaction (e. While domestic applications have to deal with one culture and nation only. Konradt. 2002) or HR costs (Buckley. In order to systematize the rather scattered topics and the related findings..5.g. the studies found refer to one or more level(s) of analysis. Ruël et al. even if there is a strong corporate culture (Ruta. by means of prototyping (n = 3). i. Hertel. To sum up. In addition. Braddy. A single study also combines an initial case study with a final survey (Kinnie & Arthurs. Huang. However. the empirical examination of technical applications via content analysis (n = 4) is also employed several times (e. Topics and findings With respect to the proposed framework. Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 23 deepened insights that again might lack external validity. some restrictions concerning external validity remain. Dansereau. In addition. However. 2003). quite diverse and non-cumulative. & Michaelis. explicit multi-level studies are missing. Most studies focus on subsets of the framework that are often quite specific. developing exemplary software that demonstrates innovative possibilities of technology. & Grossnickle. Since only one experiment does not employ student experimentees (Coppola and Myre.. Context Contextual aspects do not constitute central topics of current research. findings of a survey emphasize that global and mere domestic HR applications show different requirements due to cultural and national differences.. 2003). contextual aspects mostly concern the macro-level.. Jelf. Besides this. are rare (e. As already mentioned. despite past calls for more accurate addressing of level issues (Klein. the implicit level(s) of analysis have to be reconstructed on the basis of topics examined. Harris et al. mixed level studies seem to occur rather incidentally or at least with no clear announcement of explicit multi-level research. Coppola & Myre.e... A specific cross-cultural study investigating privacy attitudes concerning e-selection of US and Belgian applicants reveals only non-significant cultural differences on the individual level (Harris et al.S. Mixed level studies use micro-and macro-level constructs simultaneously. 2004). mainly the constructs in use.. both levels are equally addressed by current research. 1996). Third. a case study of HR portal implementation indicates that one should be aware of national cultures and underscores the necessity of culture congruent. studies are counted as experiments if test persons first use some technical equipment while afterwards completing a survey (e. Macro-level research often leans on constructs referring to HRM performance like general learning effectiveness (e. Thompson. & Hall. local implementation plans. However.g. configuration and consequences in a comprehensive manner. current studies make ample use of the inventory of empirical methods. 3. Türetken & Demirörs. Therefore.. One-fifth also attends to both levels simultaneously. & Brandes.g.4. for instance employee satisfaction and quantity of HR staff (Hawking. Though there are studies that refer to several levels. Due to the recency of the field. 3.g. In summary. global applications have to balance local particularities against requirements of global coordination (Hannon..g.e. studies are descriptive or explorative rather than focused on testing clearly stated hypothesis or cumulatively contributing to the state of knowledge. level issues are regularly not specified. 2004). Wuensch. Stein.

constitute a main topic of current research. Activities Activity oriented research firstly refers to the question whether and to what extent HRM is carried out electronically. 2000) and in elearning (Beamish. Teo et al. Besides studies that examine the diffusion within single HR activities or functions like e-recruiting or e-selection. quality of applicants (McManus & Ferguson. In addition. a case study shows that two out of five major organizations do have a clearly defined e-HRM strategy while the other organizations at least had ideas about general objectives. 2004). Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 contrast to an obviously wide spread international adoption of e-HRM. Brown.. Armistead. 2000. firm size is a variable that indicates scope and intensity of e-HRM as this relationship is reported for general applications of information technology in HR (Ball. Other contextual factors are not considered. as well as for e-recruiting (Hausdorf & Duncan. Strategy Findings concerning the e-HRM strategy at first hint at a lack of strategic considerations in general IT application (Liff.24 S. Watkinson. there are also studies that address the diffusion of e-HRM as a whole. Tansley. macro-level research refers to unit or organization related topics as. 2001) the process of strategy implementation has not been thoroughly investigated at present. emphasizing the crucial role of comprehensive and carefully planned change management activities to gain acceptance of employees and promote the actual usage of the portal (Ruta. mostly without explicitly viewing them as collective acting entities. units. Newell. Other central aspects of strategy like types. a UK based study of the usage of human resource information systems could not identify sectoral differences (Ball.. Since such topics constitute macro-level consequences of e-HRM. the related findings are again presented subsequently. Teo. Concerning the sectoral context. Though there are some further hints that additionally point out the importance of thorough implementation (e.e. 2003). As expected. since a lack of international harmonization and orientation of HR practices and policies seems to promote and encourage e-HRM (Ruël et al. comprising for instance preferences. HR professionals resp. addresses the diffusion of e-HRM. or satisfaction... Yet. the crucial role of strategy for success is accentuated (Ruël et al. without displacing conventional media (Elliott & .g. Applicants. units. 2001). not all relevant actor categories are considered equally. 2002. and Internet-based consultants. Lin. Ball. while advanced strategic or decision support orientated applications are lacking (Kinnie & Arthurs. Soon. 2001. i. 1996. 1997. West & Berman. Two UK based studies reveal that the general application of IT in HR has spread but remains on an administrative level. little is known concerning national and cultural differences or similarities. Collective actors as proposed by the framework are also frequently considered. & Armfield. 3. Mainly administrative tasks like payroll are supported. Doverspike. Teo et al. 2003) or general cost savings (Buckley et al.5. 2001). however. As a commonality of both levels. Somewhat differing. 2001) in e-recruiting (Cober. current knowledge concerning the mere existence of e-HRM strategies and their implementation is scarce and somewhat ambiguous. acceptance. 2001. perceptions of image. a private/public sector comparison showed more similarities than differences in IT usage since both sectors use the same general software applications and support the same tasks with special HR software (Elliott & Tevavichulada. Welle-Strand & Thune. especially reactions of actors to e-HRM.5. 2001. 1997. 2004). however. & Fedric. 3. contents or consequences are currently simply not addressed. for instance. 2005). 3. resp. but the link to e-HRM and the overall HRM strategy was less clear. perception of attractiveness. Accordingly. To sum up.3. 2004). Chapman & Webster. Blumental.2. Within the same study. Another case study again reports the incorporation of HR portal implementation into an overall e-business strategy. Other also obviously relevant categories. 2004). there is broader empirical evidence for a wide spread use of e-recruiting in North America where the Internet has become an ordinary recruiting source. 1999). Besides this. and employees are frequent subject of research. the state of conventional HRM seems to influence the application of e-HRM... Since such reactions constitute micro-level consequences of e-HRM. & Williams. 2003. 2001). the related findings are discussed subsequently. there were also signs for the beginning of non-administrative applications of IT (Ball. Recurrently.4. are repeatedly neglected. 2001). & Levy. such as line managers.5. Tansley & Watson. though obviously relevant contextual influences are only fragmentary addressed. Actors With respect to individual actors. A few studies also consider the organizational context.

or personalization technologies in retrieving recruiting information (Smyth. affirmative action.. even though there are studies with specific technology related findings. Prototyping approaches generate insights into the possibilities of new systems like web-based testing system (Konradt et al. 1999. the technology in question is often treated in a rather general and sometimes even vague manner. that are restricted to the mere description of specific configurations. In addition. primarily Internet job boards are utilized in order to realize e-recruiting (Hausdorf & Duncan. 2004). Consequences While there are studies. there are other topics examined in current research that can be identified as consequences of performing HR activities electronically. or videoconferencing for all kinds of employees (Chapman & Webster. 2001). Hawking et al. Kuhn & Skuterud. labor relations. The findings presented may be out of date due to the ever-changing state of technology application. 3. Türetken & Demirörs. various papers aim at the elicitation of certain consequences. 2004. Sometimes case studies explicitly depict the system(s) in question (e. and statistic systems (Elliot & Tevavichulada. These activities are followed by other HR activities. 2005) or general systems like word processing.. spreadsheet. In addition. HR planning. Hausdorf & Duncan. An analysis of Internet job boards shows a rather premature state with large differences in functionality (Koong. Thus. 2004). 1999). However. e-selection seems to be a growing field since organizations anticipate an increasing application using technologies like key word search. To summarize. e-selection seems to be in an earlier and developing stage since findings reveal a rather limited application (Chapman & Webster. Earlier studies from the nineties especially refer to “Human Resource Information Systems” (e.g.. Gardner et al.. there is an initial body of research concerning the diffusion of e-HRM. 2004). 1998).. Bradley. Roesler. Recent recruiting websites of private sector organizations show increased functionality and usability and interactive tools (Cober et al. Besides corporate web sites. Besides studies that specify the consequences under consideration in . Hannon et al. 2004) as well as content analysis approaches (e. Li. 1999. 2004). and job analysis) which are electronically performed (Elliot & Tevavichulada.. it comes as no surprise that prototyping (e. concerning the role of initial screening.g.g. 2001). & Williams. accordantly in private and public organizations (Elliott & Tevavichulada. 2000). web mining systems in e-recruiting (Li et al. In brief. 2004) refer in depth to single systems. Compared to e-recruiting.6. Even fewer studies refer to single systems. Technology The respective technological applications are usually considered on a very general level. like multimedia. 2003. while providing good job previews (Cober et al. DeTienne.. 2004). This may be due to a lack of actual diffusion studies.S. however at a more moderate level since the full range of available options is not realized (West and Berman. However. & Meszlery. West & Berman. Other categories examined are employee résumé management systems (Baker et al. 1998). & Smart.. 2002). 2000. 2001). these topics and findings are discussed as consequences in the following. 2001). HR portals (Ruta. 2003). Pearce & Tuten.g.g. have low usability and show a lack of attention-attracting mechanisms. (in descending order: compensation management.. There are few studies which refer to more concrete categories of technology. 1996) as a yet still rather broad category. Two studies examining recruiting websites report that the recruiting websites of public sector organizations are highly text-based. Studies concerning the diffusion show that approximately four out of ten organizations apply e-learning. 2002). 3. the internationally wide spread use of e-HRM commonly agreed upon in the literature is only partly confirmed by current studies. Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 25 Tevavichulada. a further survey depicts the frequent use of employee résumé management systems within fortune 500 companies (Baker. West and Berman. Besides the diffusion.5. performance appraisal. & Rafter. A further content analysis shows that a single ERP-System provides functionalities in most of the key process areas of the so called people capability maturity model (Türetken & Demirörs. it is mainly content analysis and prototyping which lead to some technology oriented findings. current research regularly refers to the information technology in question as an integral whole.5. A systematic categorization and consideration of relevant technologies is missing.. 1999).. As indicated by the usage of generic concepts like “information technology” (e. web-based tests. e-Training and-development.5. The prevalent use of e-recruiting is also revealed for the public sector. Elliott & Tevavichulada... 2003). 2003). 1999. Liu. implementation and) application of all kinds of learning that use IT for distributing of learning content and/or for communication. or as often labeled e-learning. comprises the (planning.

while electronic-résumé applicants were viewed as more intelligent.. 2003). since respondents showed no reluctance to submit even quite intimate data over the Internet with higher levels of Internet literacy even correlating with less privacy concerns (Harris et al. Since actor reactions constitute a main topic of current research. 1999). Individual consequences. Reynolds. attitudes of recruiters were also examined. price. Jin et al. there is a need for further exploration. 2003.. However. privacy concerns do not seem to constitute major impediments. In accordance with this. Cober et al. 2003. Hawking et al. & StoneRomero. One study examines reactions to a special variety of e-compensation and e-benefits. Individual consequences refer to e-HRM impacts on the micro-level. compensation and career development (Cober et al. Attitudes of individual actors then seem to pose at least no general problem for e-HRM. Overall findings of two case studies concerning HR Portals (Ruta. Besides applicant reactions. 2003). 2003). findings regarding e-recruiting show that e-recruiting does not lead to lower applicant satisfaction (Rozelle & Landis.1. in order to categorize findings concerning consequences.. 2004) reveal increased employee acceptance and satisfaction due to added value like time savings or increased accuracy of results. . Similarly. Also. delivery. Stone. 2004. as well as feedback concerning the person-organization fit of applicants (Dineen et al.. Alonso. 2002). the ability to provide additional information. employees and HR professionals. and the ability to appeal are important (Dineen et al.26 S. To sum up. Sinar. are distinguished as proposed by the framework. interface. 2003). there are studies concerning the question of what kind of special configuration does lead to positive applicant attitudes in e-recruiting. Findings show that attitudes of test takers do not differ as a result of electronic testing (Wiechmann & Ryan. and user friendliness of the technologies considered lead to better image and attraction of applicants (Braddy et al. overall findings concerning human resource information systems also show that privacy and fairness perceptions of employees depend on their ability to authorize content and targets of the information disclosed (Eddy.. Thus. current research concerning actors mainly refers to applicants. technologically advanced. Somewhat differing. As already mentioned. Huang. 2005) and employee self service systems (Hawking et al. Yang et al. 2003). In addition. efforts to investigate what special kind of configuration does lead to positive applicant reactions reveal that perceived fairness of e-selection procedures is influenced by a hierarchy of justice factors of which the consistency of the screening system. relational and transformational consequences on the macro-level. accuracy. 2004). 3. At the intersection of e-recruiting and e-selection. Not surprisingly.. reactions of individual actors are regularly subject to research. useful content concerning e. systems speed. 2002) lead to positive attitudes and attraction of applicants. & Fairchild. Interestingly.. there are also studies that do not do so but rather aim generally at “results” or “outcomes” in an exploratory manner (e.. Findings concerning a web site that offers certain products as additional benefits show that convenience.g. employees appreciated an e-health care application due to the realization of employee-defined features (Payton. so far e-HRM obviously seems to be generally accepted and sometimes even preferred to conventional HRM. the opportunity to perform. resp.. & Paquet.. However. another study demonstrates that applicant perceptions of electronic job search were even more positive owing to a clearly greater number of jobs found and an improved quality of information (Van Rooy. Another study even reveals that electronic versions of tests are more positively perceived by test-takers than conventional testing (Salgado & Moscoso. 2003). 2004). 2004). 2002). however. individual consequences on the micro-level and operational. 2003). Contrary findings concern the reactions to aesthetical aspects of recruiting website design: While one study reveals positive attraction effects due to aesthetic design (Zusman & Landis. are findings that conventional (paper-based) job postings were preferred to web-based postings (Zusman & Landis. findings reveal that applicants react more positively to recruitingoriented as opposed to screening-oriented websites since recruiting-oriented websites provide more positive and detailoriented information than screening oriented websites (Williamson et al. In both kinds of studies the consequences examined are quite specific and diverse.. Again. 2003).6. 2002). paper-résumé applicants are viewed as more friendly. 2004). and security are factors that influence satisfaction of employees with satisfaction significantly related to organizational citizenship behavior (Huang. 2003). Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 advance. Complementing these general findings. Correspondingly.5. while research concerning the activities focuses on recruiting and selection.g. and possessing better overall qualifications (Elgin & Clapham. another study could not replicate this effect (Cober et al. ease of navigation. Studies concerning reactions to e-selection refer rather to pre-selection than to final selection decisions.

Finally. Research concerning the effectiveness of e-selection firstly points out that the transition from conventional to electronic testing does not lead to a loss of quality since Internet versions of tests seem to be equivalent to conventional paper-and-pencil tests (Salgado & Moscoso.. quality content. 2004.e. reduced staffing costs. Next. constitute a topic of several studies. Not surprisingly. & Bemus 1998). An examination of recruitment quality of Internet job boards yields that quality of recruiting. Pearce & Tuten.. 2004. cost reduction. Accordingly. two case studies examining self service applications also reveal changing roles for line managers and employees since these systems constitute central parts of every day work that cause considerable extra time (Hawking et al. McManus & Ferguson.e. 2004. Llopis. and a release from administrative burdens resulting from automation (Hawking et al. faster-processes. 2004). 2003). Also. there are hints from case studies that support the assertion of increased productivity due to eHRM. 2004). overall gains and losses of efficiency seem . Ruël et al. self-motivation and self-direction (MacPherson et al. Hogler. 2004). A few studies address the efficiency of e-HRM. First. Two other surveys convey quite the contrary: The Internet is less effective than personal networking in yielding appropriate applicants but is far superior to other formal recruiting sources (Feldmann & Klaas. 2003). communication. 2001).6. evaluation. findings also reveal that special recruiting systems only partially meet the expectations of saving time and work (Baker et al. Ruël et al. 2004).. 2005). control mechanisms. and time resources (Vaughan & MacVicar. MacPherson et al. 2002. Besides mere efficiency. In line with this. In contrast. 2003). 2003) and is therefore able to support diversity programs (Pearce & Tuten. 2002. and increased hiring efficiency (Buckley et al. these aspects are quite different: Active participation of trainers. Firstly. Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 27 3. Another common topic of current research concerns operational consequences comprising both efficiency and effectiveness related macro-level consequences of e-HRM.. 2001. as measured in applicant qualification and job fit.S. These studies generally indicate a reduction of HR staff. Capelli... 2002. & González. 2004). 2004) are identified as factors of qualitative performance in e-learning. 2004). consideration of individual needs. the job board specificity is associated with recruitment quality since specialized job boards showed better results (Jattuso & Sinar. Henle. the discrimination of minorities. 2004). Matching algorithms and intelligent-agents supported search performed better in terms of general performance (Nissen & Gates. Interestingly. On the other hand. there are mixed findings concerning the effectiveness of e-recruiting. management support. i. savings within the HR department are also an effect of simply shifting responsibilities from HR to line managers and employees (Ruël et al. Though there are findings that substantiate some socio-economic and demographic differences (Kuhn & Skuterud.. 2004). McManus & Ferguson. an increase in quality of HR activities. the applicant quality decreased (Chapman & Webster. 2003). a case study suggests that web-based screening and selection leads to reduced employee turnover (Buckley et al. 2004). Technology then serves as an “enabler” that empowers HR professionals to provide more value to their organizations (Gardner et al. with web-based training even being slightly more advantageous (Coppola & Myre. Research on the effectiveness of e-learning shows little differences between web-based and instructor led training. Several studies also provide details concerning aspects that lead to performance. interaction features among trainers and learners (Gascó. considerable cost savings are reported for e-recruiting and e-selection. while the applicant pool increased. Respondents of two surveys report rather moderate success of e-recruiting since. 2004).5.. could not be confirmed. In summary.2. 2001).. 2003). Operational consequences. 2002) and showing a delivery advantage that offers more flexibility to learners (Coppola & Myre. or organizational commitment. 2000. Yet.. In addition. the frequently mentioned concerns regarding the “digital divide” in e-recruiting (e. findings concerning the efficiency consequences are limited and mixed. research in general effectiveness of information technology indicates positive consequences since information technology enables HR professionals to provide increased information responsiveness to their customers and to have more information autonomy and more external professional links. 2003. was associated with a moderate level of interim applicant-employer contacts. there are survey based findings showing HR professionals spent less time on routine tasks but had to spend additional time on information technology related activities and on developing information technology related qualifications (Gardner et al. i. general improvements of effectiveness. In addition. an experimental comparison of several different recruiting technologies reveals differences in recruiting appropriate applicants: Non-technically supported and decisionsupport-system supported varieties performed better in terms of employer satisfaction... 2003.. Ruta. 1998). due to reduced employee turnover.g.. McManus & Ferguson. e-learning is also able to save costs if used for larger groups of learners (Beamish et al. While there is some support for productivity gains especially due to the automation of routine activities.. compared to other formal sources e-recruiting yields even a higher number of minority applicants (Chapman & Webster. MacPherson et al.

there are several confirmations of far reaching integrative potentials of information technology resulting from relating different actors. leading to heterogeneous networks and. as well as topics of a future research program in e-HRM. there are clear gaps in effectiveness research concerning specific HR activities beyond e-recruiting.. Similarly. (global) integration and harmonization of HR activities. Transformational consequences. However. findings of a survey reveal increasing relations between HR professionals since they were able to connect to more professional sources outside the organization. represent a crucial topic. especially e-recruiting. empirical research should identify the key research topics. 2004).. 3. findings concerning different activities. e-HRM seems to be a means to standardize HR and to overcome hurdles of different cultures and languages (Hannon et al. research in the field of e-HRM will produce a plenitude of statements regarding some observed relationships and/or prescriptions for practice that fail to explain why such relationships exist and/or when.g. Findings of case studies also expose clearly increased relevance of the HR-department as a flexible and proactive business partner (Ruta.. a combination of centralization of policies on the one hand.28 S. other studies demonstrate the potential of IT to move HR towards global integration and to support international strategy (Hannon et al. Additionally. 2004). collect meaningful data.. 2001). 2004). 1996) and at least partially emphasize the role of HR as a business partner (Teo et al. it remains unclear to what extent efficiency gains are illusory due to a simple shifting of activities to managers and employees and/or a swapping of HR tasks with IT tasks. Tixier. Tansley et al.4. 2003). the further . Theoretical perspectives The main and most detrimental inadequacy of current research is its primarily non-theoretical character. In addition. configurations and consequences is a basic task. there are mixed findings and some isolated hints that e-HRM may contribute to a more strategic role of HRM. the explanation of the relationships between context. 2005) or at least report an improvement of HR status comprising a clearer profile and a better image (Ruël et al. Transformational consequences concern the overall changes of the HRMfunction that centrally aim at the role the HRM plays in company performance and strategy support (e. Also.g.3. This is supported by the finding that HR professionals can focus on more meaningful tasks and are empowered to provide more value to their organizations (Gardner et al. 1997. a grand or integrative multi-level theory of e-HRM currently does not exist. 2004).. and why such prescriptions will work. seems to be a major relational consequence of e-HRM (Ruël et al. Relational consequences. 2003). and levels of analysis. Relational consequences refer to the new and extended possibilities of interactions between actors. as an alternative. However.. findings concerning the effectiveness of e-HRM are limited and mixed. The following section tries to elaborate on these demands by discussing some initial implications concerning crucial theoretical perspectives. are for the most part unexamined at present.5. In addition. 2001). Information technology leads to. 4. 1996. Earlier findings of case studies reveal that IT has not provided a strategy-supporting role of HR despite potentials to do so (Liff. and transfer the findings into useful recommendations for practitioners (Stanton & Coovert. While findings on the general level show improvements in effectiveness. Ruël et al.. 4. produce viable theoretical perspectives to frame these topics. Therefore. the possible application of three groups of existing theories can and should be checked: First. and decentralization of executing these policies on the other. or at least possesses the potential for.1. Without good theory. the decisive question whether e-HRM is able to transform HR into an appreciated business partner that provides value to the organization is only parenthetically addressed. one case study reveals an extensive decentralization of executing HR activities by shifting responsibilities to line management and employees. Somewhat opposed. 1998). therefore.6. Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 to be difficult to measure and balance. as e. Thus... though a crucial aspect of e-HRM. Firstly. while robust results that unambiguously evidence persistent transformations are missing. methodical approaches.5. are diverse and there are also hints of shortcomings. Implications for research To address the challenges of e-HRM. if ever. to external professional associations (Gardner et al. 2004. Barney & Wright. Since spatially separated actors can be networked.. 3. In brief.6. Relational consequences.

even though these expectations may have little to do with actual performance accomplishment. Morris. 1983) offers advanced possibilities to explain relationships between the context and the configuration of e-HRM. Institutional explanations then also serve as a caveat not to precipitately agree to the positive potentials of e-HRM. At least from an HRperspective this also holds true for delegating tasks to line managers. For HR and the entire organization.g. since analogous issues of performance impacts are to be explained.g. IT now provides HR with a powerful and cost effective integration mechanism (Lepak & Snell 1998). Hence. Hence. The highlighted characteristics of resources that yield advantages also provide some practical guidance for planning and implementing e-HRM. e-HRM implies a major reorganization with new assignments of HR tasks to heterogeneous networks. However. Wright & McMahan. meetings.. Given that the value and efficiency of IT is generally taken for granted by surrounding institutions. e-HRM may well be seen as such a change. 2003) are promising in the e-HRM field. It substantiates that HR can be a powerful means to these ends if human resources are valuable.. and partially delegated structures of e-HRM can be explained by their ability to save costs.g. theoretical perspectives of information systems research concerning such crucial topics as information systems acceptance and usage (e.. by simply buying and implementing the same softwarepackages. rare.. This holds true e. this will create a pressure on organizations to adopt practices like e-recruiting or elearning. e-HRM.g. Since it is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss these three groups comprehensively. 1998).. transaction and production costs also constitute a criterion for the design of e-HRM configurations or “architectures” as suggested by previous conceptual work (Lepak & Snell. In doing this.. Changes of organizations then originate in pressures from public agencies. DeLone & McLean. the criteria of rareness and inimitability of human resources postulate that corresponding adequate e-HRM activities should not be easily imitable by competitors. the resource-based view enlightens how corporations can gain competitive advantage and high performance. Second. For instance. research should especially profit from applying recognized macro-level theories of HRM (e. 1994) offers explanations concerning the configuration and its relationship with the economic consequences of e-HRM. the resourced based theory of the firm (e. Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 29 adoption of common micro-level theories that provide explanations for individual phenomena (Lievens & Harris. the complex. 2003) or information systems success (e. is able to explain possible transformational consequences of e-HRM. for the outsourcing of administrative tasks to external consultants (Lepak & Snell. 1998). First. partially outsourced. 2003) should be fruitful. 1992). even though previous conventional recruiting and development practices may fully satisfy organizational needs. As a third example. e-HRM then mainly is a means of gaining legitimacy. While conventional integration mechanisms like managers. and its sub-functions like e-recruiting. but to have a deeper look at its actual performance contributions. there are several directly suitable theories at the disposal of future research in e-HRM. as well. in order to survive organizations must not only respond to market pressures but also accommodate institutional expectations of their environment. new institutional theory (e.. institutional theory also predicts the isomorphism of resulting configurations. Generally. e-learning etc. since coercive and normative and mimetic mechanisms will lead to isomorphic configurations. Besides this. partially decentralized. Second.S. would have produced considerably increased transaction costs. Transaction cost theory explains institutional arrangements due to their cost effectiveness. etc.. social expectations. 1998). Hence as exemplarily illustrated by recognized macro-level theories of HRM.g. DiMaggio & Powell. Barney. the potentials of three selected macro-level theories of HRM are exemplarily discussed in the following.g. 1998). employees as well as to IT itself. Williamson. As depicted. inimitable and their exploitation is supported by the corresponding organization (Barney & Wright. Besides this explanation of the occurrence of complex technologically mediated and supported networks of actors. then can be explained as contributing activities that provides the firm with human resources that fit to these characteristics. applicants. transaction cost theory portrays IT not only as the technological but also as the economical enabler of e-HRM. institutionalism offers explanations of the relation between institutional context and configurations of e-HRM and promotes a critical view on its factual consequences. the resource-based view also indicates how HR may become a business partner (Barney & Wright. transaction cost theory (e. this decrease in production costs is accompanied by massive integration requirements within such complex networks of distributed actors. . Generally.g. and hence.. & Davis. 1991) may also contribute to the theoretical foundation of e-HRM by explaining relationships between the configuration and consequences of eHRM. e. Venkatesh.g. and the actions of leading organizations. Davis. Following institutional argumentations. Third.

current research frequently relies on single source respondents. since eHRM is a multi-level phenomenon. theory. Thus. Rozelle & Landis.. 2003). Lievens & Harris. 1994). Thus. single systems. 4. as hidden contributions of the field. HR-portals. information technology can be examined as a whole as prevailing in current studies.30 S.. Laurent.. this general level research should be accompanied by studies that explicitly consider different categories of systems. In addition. Jattuso & Sinar. Finally. the appropriate sequence of research and practice should be reconsidered.2. though unusual in HRM the prototyping of innovative technical applications offers further possibilities for offering innovative stimuli.g. With reference to this. e. Second. empirical research may often not be able to give innovative impulses. Such data indicate central facts. future multi-level research may be theoretically thwarted. data collection and/or analysis are incongruent (Klein et al.g. the framework of Anderson. future work would profit from explicitly addressing level issues. since there are only few multi-level approaches (e. Since previous applications were largely exploratory. and. Finally. As a consequence. In order to identify potential differences. additionally. particularly for the examination of consequences. theories. currently both major methodological approaches. Patnayakuni. especially if respondents originate from different actor categories that represent different perspectives.3. As a general measure. Due to proven concerns about awareness levels. also cumulative research. “surrogate samples” of students should be restricted to cases where clear similarities to “real actors” exist and external validity can be substantiated (e. like occurred interactions. such methodological pluralism seems to be continually necessary.. 2003). research would profit from studies that address several levels including the corresponding inter-level relationships (Markus & Robey. In addition. Level of analysis Since level issues create particular problems when the levels of topic. actors leave valuable “data traces” like web-logfiles and usage protocols as well data input into various applications. Yule. then assures practical relevance of research (Robey & Markus. the reliability of single source research. 1994). As demonstrated by pioneers (e. functions used. dependent on the desired level(s) of organizational analysis the appropriate level(s) of technological analysis should also be designated. i. 2003). i. etc. by using technology. and analysis should be specified and coordinated.g. thus.. 2002). At the generic level. action research presents the opportunity to develop innovative solutions for numerous applied questions conjointly with practice and. the levels of topics. constitute the most detailed level of technology. case studies. the valuable but rather reactive approaches of surveys and case studies should be complemented by proactive methods. 1999). & Bowtell. the proposed dichotomy of micro-and macro-level research serves as a minimal model that can be expanded by following suggestions of conceptual work if necessary (Klein et al. Since e-HRM is a developing field with diverse topics. In addition. As already partially practiced in current research.e. 2003). Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 4. hence. decisions made. the gathering of meaningful data research relies on preceding practical e-HRM applications. Obviously macro-level research may tend to more aggregated levels of information . future studies should profit from multiple respondents. a concrete ERP-system or a concrete HR-portal. Methodological approaches Current research uses a broad range of different qualitative and quantitative approaches. Fourth. Hewson. existing applications like self-service systems and portals of consultants. and surveys are cross sectional in nature. also constitute a further layer. Since the clarification of level issues is first and foremost a duty of the applied theory (Klein et al. time spent with technology. empirical research is often a methodologically determined laggard of practice. etc.. as ERP-Systems. particular modules or algorithms of single systems. Besides such categories. Currently. experiments are a first suitable approach to test innovative ideas developed by theoretical or conceptual work. Furthermore. a first and obvious requirement is to relate any method employed closely to theory so as to contribute to explanatory and. while subsystems. data collection. Even case studies that address the latest developments in e-HRM need at least one preceding pioneer in practice. Therefore.g.g.e. 1998).. Third. longitudinal approaches seem to be more adequate due to possible time lags between application and results and also in order to map long(er) term consequences (e.g. 1988). This level addresses the overall and general aspects of information technology. there are additional opportunities of data collection. constitute new platforms for web-based data collection (e. Related to the level of analysis. and constitute helpful additional data sources for e-HRM research. Staples. & Vogel. 1994) and. future research should also profit from explicitly distinguishing different levels of information technology (Seddon.

Topics As already pointed out. a systematic investigation of HR strategies and policies. etc. legal contexts and their restraining or encouraging influences on e-HRM should be considered. current research shows a strong national focus on the U. three kinds of studies seem to promise advancement: First. configurational. also HR professionals and employees. Though demanding and laborious. At the outset. are of central importance to e-HRM (Lepak & Snell.e. especially the novel category of applicants. it seems to be necessary to consider the manifold HR relevant external “administrative institutions” such as banks. specific studies that address a new subset of the framework are necessary to break fresh ground in-depth. 2003). First.. Finally. Actors As a main innovation.g. tasks. or status may constitute a further fruitful contribution in understanding e-HRM. Systematic knowledge concerning the manner and strength of such relationships should be useful for deriving guidelines for designing future configurations that avoid harmful and obtain helpful results.. shop-councils and unions also can gain relevance as actors of e-HRM. 1998).g. e-HRM line managers constitute a crucial.S. computer orientation. fragmented and changeable networks of actors mediated and supported by information technology are the beneficiaries of e-HRM. web-based HR content and service provider.S. it seems to offer a rich reservoir of factors that may influence certain e-HRM configurations and consequences. Also. besides individual actors there are crucial macro-level phenomena that are not addressed at present. organizational culture. Hence. Current research focuses on certain actor categories. e-HRM inaugurates new internal and external actors to HRM (e. the organizational context constitutes the most promising contextual subset. Besides general organizational features like size. Furthermore. Ruël et al. co-determination legislation may also vitally affect e-HRM. etc. depending on differing national regulations. and. referring to both the macro. Li et al. the following sections recommend interesting future issues and aspects. research should benefit from systematically and simultaneously considering all relevant actors. With respect to the proposed framework. Taras & Bennett. 2002. i. general studies that synoptically embrace contextual. and especially configurational. Context Concerning the national macro-context. to consequential aspects of e-HRM. labor courts. Finally.g. The same holds true for the intertwined cultural context. although there are no fixed rules for combining organizational and technological levels. Again only occasionally addressed..g. as opposed to a “conventional” HR department. In addition. 4. Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 31 technology while micro-level research may additionally be occupied with disaggregated levels. besides this.4. Third.. 2004. labor exchanges. thereby also constituting virtual HR departments . 4.. future research would profit from international comparative studies that reveal (inter-)national influences in e-HRM. due to the idea of decentralization.1. conceptual work demonstrates that external consultants. 2004.4. however barely regarded category of actors (e. 2003).. Based on the gaps identified above. Dineen et al. 2003). All studies. first findings indicate that especially the narrow HRM context seems to be of relevance. current topics mainly refer to quite specific and diverse subsets of context. specific studies that address already examined subsets of the framework are appropriate since they can lend robustness to previous findings by replication and may dissolve looming contradictions (e. As a result. we possess knowledge concerning several focal points and facets of e-HRM. and consequential aspects are crucial. Such external actors again interact electronically with internal actors in order to perform various HR tasks. 2004). As a collective category term. should systematically relate contextual.2. but have only a vague hint at the “complete picture”. administration could be recommended. since conceptual work emphasizes the phenomenon of “e-voice” (e. First.4. 4. a central limitation of current research lies in the patchiness of topics covered. Consequently. Additionally. Second. Sinar et al. Closely related to national contexts. with only scattered results from other countries. Hawking et al.and micro-context. whether specific or general. configuration and consequences. since they can lend an integrative overview. Lengnick-Hall & Moritz.

32 S. 2002). Since there is clear evidence of further electronically performed HR activities – also substantiated by conceptual work concerning e. or sports – aims at improvements of communication. e-selection. Therefore. 4. 1993) constitute a further prospective macro-level topic since there is first evidence of such communities. Such front-end applications represent technical catalysts of e-HRM and are therefore core categories. In addition. these systems support actors in task fulfillment by means of storing. as e. such virtual interactions. Thus.4. 1998). relational and transformational goals should constitute promising future topics. Besides general aspects of e-HRM strategy formulation. The succeeding strategy implementation encompasses various topics like need analyses.g. This distinction of several categories can be extended by . the displacement of conventionally performed activities seems to be an obvious consequence of e-HRM. current research frequently refers to the generic level of information technology. so-called virtual communities of actors (Rheingold. such as health.4. Activities Due to their role as pioneering activities. Since rare studies that explicitly examine different technologies reveal factual differences. Second. borrowing from e-learning. knowledge transfer. 2000). self-service systems.3. or HR data warehouses. the distribution of these activities to a portfolio of internal and external actors constitutes a further interesting topic comprising characteristic questions of HR outsourcing research (Lepak & Snell. Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 (Snell et al. yet largely neglected topic of e-HRM. research should discern the meanwhile broad range of different relevant technological categories. software selection and customization. in the interim. both processes should be incorporated in future inquiries of e-HRM configurations. The same holds true for (HR-modules of) ERPsystems.g. user training. commitment. Technology Presumably based on the implicit assumption that there are no relevant differences. Fandray.5. Front-end systems usually are web-based and primarily support the task of connecting different actors. Central categories of front-end systems are HR portals. 2003). the relationship of electronic and conventional HR activities constitutes a topic of special concern. an ERP-system also offers a manager self service module. concerning the related consequences (Nissen & Gates. 2003). compensation. etc. human resource information systems constitute a “backbone” category of e-HRM (Hendrickson. As a first and rough distinction. while also regarding the fact that several of these categories are commonly used concurrently to provide the technological basis of e-HRM. Additionally. The idea of initiating internal employee communities by using portal technology to provide means for interaction – such as chats. With respect to the corresponding actors. it is of special interest if and which “bundles” of HR activities are electronically performed as well as if and how these activities are interrelated. Such front ends are reliant on the support of diverse back-end systems. e-learning and. blended approaches that explicitly combine electronic and conventional activities become known. as well as additional content. e. However. To complicate things. Besides single HR activities. or interactive voice response systems. In order to detect the role and importance of strategy formulation and implementation. (e. Though sometimes conceived as outmoded.g. etc. research should detect where conventional HR activities are actually displaced and where electronic and conventional activities are combined.4.g. empirical delimitations between such categories are challenging since real applications increasingly combine the properties of different categories. 2003). forums and newsgroups. processing and retrieving data of various front-end systems. communities and networks constitute crucial macrolevel topics. leisure. Strategy The formulation and implementation of a functional e-HRM strategy seem to be a central. At first glance. the pursued operational. 4. units. a systematic consideration of different relevant technologies below the generic level is a further essential step. benefits and pensions and performance appraisal – a first task is the ascertainment of a systematic empirical overview (Lengnick-Hall & Moritz. Not necessarily web-based. among others. 2004). 4. there are external communities initiated and controlled by employees and other external stakeholders in order to effectively represent their interests (see for an intriguing example the case of “greedy-associates” as depicted by Taras & Gesser. change management. On the systems category level. current research has concentrated mainly on e-recruiting. Such virtual HR departments should then be an appealing future topic. 2003). front-end and back-end systems of e-HRM can be distinguished.. particularly the integration with business strategy (Lengnick-Hall & Moritz.4. thereby constituting varieties of “blended HRM”.

electronic. Corresponding with this topic. the release of administrative burdens may result in more time for “strategic” activities as frequently imagined in literature (e. a critical question is whether IT alone is actually sufficient to satisfy the extensive integration and coordination needs of such networks. Still. then. HR activities within such virtual entities (Lepak & Snell. 1998). . the cardinal question of e-HRM efficiency is whether there are real efficiency gains beyond a mere shifting of HR activities to other actors (Snell et al. unfortunately without distinguishing electronic. employees. comparative work that concurrently elicits results of conventional. empiric HRM performance studies necessarily have also referred to electronic HR activities.S. e-HRM seems to hold new potentials for telecommuting. Relational consequences directly refer to the topics of virtual interactions. For instance. 2002). the changing requirements and working conditions should also be critically examined. the consequences of empowering employees for the first time to decide on HR services by themselves should be of interest (Lengnick-Hall & Moritz. Subsequently. etc. on the individual level.6. For instance. Actually. Additionally. A central issue should refer to the consequences for organizing. the overall effects on firm performance then should constitute a major topic of future research. and units that emerge due to increased possibilities of relating spatio-temporally separated actors. Also. that innovative electronic solutions are principally better than existing conventional activities (Anderson.e. the factual exploitation of efficiency gains now as before is a vital topic. Effectiveness topics. & Boon. the general effects on employee productivity and performance – beyond the allocation of tasks via self-service – constitute a topic a central concern. 2003). communities. On the one hand. differentiating and integrating. taking for granted. a variety of operational performance consequences may constitute an antecedent of the transformational changes like redefining scope and function of HR. Building on current research. Second. user acceptance on the individual level seems to be a necessary condition for operational effectiveness on the macro level. First and foremost. Consequences Since consequences are again only partly examined. In brief. Lengnick-Hall & Moritz. work contents. promises advancement and further insights. and also “blended” approaches. Third. i. the transformational consequences wait for further investigation. A few crucial consequences of each category should be mentioned. line managers. Dietz.4. On the other hand. as for instance changes of qualification profiles. it should be of interest which new patterns of task assignment emerge within such heterogeneous networks of HR professionals.. and beyond a mere replacement of HR-related activities by IT-related activities (Gardner et al. In particular. Thus. an alignment with the field of HRM performance research seems to be an obvious step. and transformational consequences await future analysis. 2003). due to evident differences. This will provide a balanced picture of e-HRM and will prevent research from the bpro-innovation bias". nor treated as a relevant topic in an agenda for future research in this area (Paauwe & Boselie. conventional and blended activities and their performance impacts. investments in technology may result in pressures to simply downsize HR staff in order to actually realize efficiency potentials (Lepak & Snell. if there are real efficiency potentials as indicated by some studies. Information technology is neither even mentioned in a recent comprehensive review of empirical studies (Boselie. 4. Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 33 considering single systems or even sub-systems. 2003). or whether additional activities are necessary. 1998). Future research then should examine whether eHRM actually leads to new varieties of HR telecommuting. i. consultants. a crucial subsequent question relates to the consequences for HR staff. research should detect which actual patterns of technology are utilized while heeding several levels of technology. relational. manifold individual. 2005). As performance related consequences constitute a core obligation of future research. operational. it is an intriguing question whether the results of the single HR activities can be improved. all topics concerning consequential details seem to condense in the crucial question whether e-HRM contributes to redefine scope and function of HR towards a strategy supporting and value adding unit or whether it is just another declaiming of the “being a strategic partner”-mantra (Lepak & Snell. Since IT does matter. given the ubiquity of employed technology. Besides the primarily studied actor reactions.g. To date HRM performance research has not picked up e-HRM as a topic of any relevance. 1998).e. the intra-level and inter-level relationships between consequences are of further interest. relate to manifold quality aspects concerning all HR activities.. Given the wide spread application of IT. 2005). Given this wide set of consequences. Just as current research in consequences draws a rather optimistic picture of e-HRM. work and information load. operational consequences of e-HRM still constitute a crucial issue. future research also should explicitly heed possible downsides. networks. 2003). Though already a frequent topic of current research.

since comparable single studies are missing. E-Leadership: Implications for theory. Kahai. Ball. L. Business Communication Quarterly. Second. (2002). Third. configuration. & Dodge. Boselie. Based on the review. the framework is able to capture at least the basic issues of e-HRM and can be refined for future work. Fourth. However. & Webster. First. P. Acknowledgement I would like to thank the editors and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version of the paper. research.34 S. Anonymous. P. 21(3). an appropriate theory for comprehensively framing e-HRM is missing at present. Human Resource Management.. further valuable empirical work published in books. 615−668. The use of an automated employment recruiting and screening system for temporary professional employees: A case study. G. 8−19. it was possible to identify and summarize various empirical studies from different disciplines. G. however. Clearly. 30(6).. European Business Journal. K. 11(2/3). 99−120.. F. However. Thompson.. and consequences.. W. the concentration on a smaller number of well-established theories from HRM and IS research. The use of human resource information systems: A survey. seems to constitute an appropriate future approach. W. etc. Armistead. DeTienne. 31−46. In order to avoid proliferation. S. Beamish. (1991). a metaanalytical application of statistical methods is not practicable at present. i. Internet recruiting: The effects of web page design features. The deployment of e-learning in UK/European corporate organisations. Watkinson. theoretical grounding is the central condition of any progress in the field. Baker. C. unpublished research papers. Without repeating single findings. 113−120. Personnel Review. the review is restricted to work published in international peer-reviewed journals. J.. Journal of Management.. & Armfield. referring to the empirical methods. & Michaelis. Buckley. this article hopes to stimulate further debate and research in e-HRM. G. D. 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