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On The Role Of Human Resource Intermediaries – Basic Concepts And Research The term “intermediaries” have long been

used in the natural sciences when describing chemical reactions, while in the social sciences intermediaries are generally viewed as forms of organizations, which have risen in-between other forms of organizations (Laur & Hallström, 2011). Generally, intermediary organizations are defined by their structural position, that is, an organization that mediates the relationship(s) of two or more social actors such as institutions or organizations (Van der Meulen, Nedeva & Braun, 2005). The general notion of intermediary organizations can be regarded as an umbrella term, covering up to 20 different types, whereas Labour Market Intermediaries (LMIs) constitute one of these (Moss, Medd, Guy & Marvin, 2009). Kazis (1998) view labour market intermediaries as providers of functions including organizing, convening, brokering and providing services for employers, such as employment agencies, recruiters, labour contractors, community based organizations, unions, multi-sector collaborations, etc. (Benner, 2003; Kazis, 1998). The continuous growth in terms of numbers, as well as the significant role appointed to LMIs, has led to an increased interest from researchers, not least since LMIs are described to fulfil needs of increased flexibility in the labour market (Osterman, 2004). Previous research has at large focused on various economic effects and effects on the functioning of the labour market. From this perspective LMIs are described as reducing transaction costs for employers as well as for employees, streamlining search processes and “share risks”, such as failed recruitments. Further more, they facilitate flows between external and internal labour markets and may have effects concerning wage levels (Benner, 2003; Cooke et al, 2005). However, more problematic consequences are also described, such as how working conditions, job satisfaction and development opportunities seems to decline in a labour market characterized by flexibility and changed employment contracts, and by a sharper segmentation of and between different groups in the labour market (Barker & Christensen, 1998; Kalleberg, 2001). As previously stated, the focus in this paper is directed towards an emerging type of intermediaries, that is, HRIs that work regionally, are membership-based and can be characterized as “advanced” in the sense that they cover the entire HR process in terms of facilitating the inflow of competence to the organizations, developing competence that is already in the organizations, as well as handling competence that is leaving the organization. Matters of HRD, such as training and learning are, thus, seen as a part of the entire human resource flow (cf. Pinnington & Edwards, 2005). Research on these emerging HRIs is still limited and the question of their function and roles in the labour market still remains to be explored. Brulin and Svensson (forthcoming) makes in this respect a distinction between three roles or functions of the intermediary organization: as meeting places for exchanging experiences, mediators of contacts, or motors for supporting local and regional development. The role of intermediaries is understood as important parts of a learning system and is closely related to research focused on understanding systems of innovation on local, regional and national levels (cf. Nuur, 2005). Referring to the three functions of intermediaries described by Brulin and Svensson (forthcoming), the HRIs can possibly be viewed as developing their business from a mediating/brokering function towards a more developmental and motor-oriented function. In literature, companies handling of HR activities are often connected to outsourcing issues (cf. Gainey & Klaas, 2003). According to Ulrich et al (2008, p. 837-838) “HR expertise can be shared across boundaries by alliances in which two or more firms create a common service or by outright purchase from vendors who specialize in offering services”. Concerning outcomes of outsourcing HR, previous research indicate that it may have both positive and negative effects (Cooke et al, 2005; Klaas, McClendon & Gainey, 2001; Nesheim, Olsen & Kalleberg, 2007; Ulrich, et al, 2008). Examples of positive effects include:  Freeing time for focusing on core business activities.  Gaining innovative HR expertise, new perspectives and an objective and critical view.  Being part of a network with timely access to knowledge and resources that are otherwise inaccessible.  Facilitating learning and cross-fertilization between consultants and customer.  Enhancing the strategic focus of the in-house HR function.  Using standardized and validated methods that ensure consistency and efficiency.  Reducing costs by downsizing the internal HR staff.

 Difficulties to fulfil promises and customer expectations. . e.g.g. e.g. when the consultants do not meet the demands or expected results.  Quality reductions of HR work.  Higher total costs.Conversely. if the contract between the consultant and the customer benefits one party than to the other  Risk of HR role conflict between consultant and internal HR personnel. examples of negative effects include:  Loss of in-house knowledge and capacity.  Miss-matches between use of standardized methods and tools and the customer’s unique organizational characteristics. when the internal HR competence is based on tacit knowledge there may be a gap between what is delivered and what is actually needed. e. and also risks of losing long-term competitiveness.