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Human Resource Management

Specialization of the master’s programme in Business Administration

A wider perspective
Human Resource Every organization has its
Managing the very
objectives and its own strategy
the key to for achieving them. Harnessing
strategic success the strengths and talents of an

heart of an organisation organization’s human resources
are the key to making this process
work. How can an organization get
the best out of its employees?

Creating a person-organization fit
Each human being is unique. We all have our
individual strengths and our personal goals. A square
peg in a round hole is not a recipe for success. How
can you combine human abilities and motivations
with situational demands and opportunities to create
a competitive advantage in organizational processes
such as production and innovation?

Developing talent to the full
“I majored in Human Resources because I have always had Well-rounded professionals do not come ready
a keen interest in the human factor within an organization. made. It is one thing to recognize raw talent but
From the start it was clear to me that the workforce plays quite another to nurture and channel it within an
a vital role in an organization’s success. An engine simply organization. How can you enable employees to
cannot run without fuel.” develop their skills and realize their full potential?

Jaap Oskam, Master’s student of Human Resource Making the most of diversity
Management Nothing stifles creativity like uniformity. But managing
diversity brings with it special challenges and requires
a clear vision and a strong sense of commitment. How
do you go about enabling employees from different
backgrounds to work together effectively?

Interactive marketing and networks
How can we better understand the potential of
information and communication technologies to
help us develop a more thorough understanding of
customers and markets? What kind of organizational
forms are best suited to meeting the challenges posed
by the knowledge economy and how can technologies
contribute to these new organizational forms?

A wider perspective Human Resource Management - 3
Master’s Human Resource Management (HRM) Comparative, Comparative HRM
specialization in can be defined as the management critical, At VU University Amsterdam,
Human Resource of work and people in order to contemporary you will learn all about effective
Management at achieve desired outcomes. It is a HRM by comparing and applying
VU University crucial part of any organization. theories and practices at the
Amsterdam These desired outcomes involve micro (individual behaviour, such
high performance aligned with as employee motivation), meso
organizational goals. For employees, (organizational HRM practices, such
they involve career and development opportunities. as performance management) and macro (contextual
Human Resource Managers take on the challenge factors, such as national culture) levels. This wide-
of aligning individual needs with organizational ranging and multi-levelled approach is a cornerstone
requirements using HRM tools and models. This of this unique programme.
process takes place in the context of environmental
and societal trends, such as the increasing diversity of Critical developments
employees’ backgrounds. At VU University Amsterdam, You will be encouraged to hone your critical and
students learn to reflect critically on these and many analytical skills by assessing current HRM theories
other issues in the field of HRM. and practices in light of their suitability over time and
how they relate to various aspects of social, political
One of the contemporary HRM-related issues facing and technological progress. You will look into whether
the Western world is the ageing workforce. The baby “When you take the people out of an organization, you take traditional HRM theories are still relevant when applied
boom that followed on the heels of WWII has skewed out the knowledge. Without that, almost nothing remains. to contemporary HRM issues, such as the ageing
the demographics of Western labour forces. This, Bricks and mortar, machines and products cannot think, workforce in Western countries or the urge felt by
combined with the current deficit of young talent, will innovate, sell or buy! HRM is the key to managing human today’s workers for work-family balance.
lead to considerable staff shortages within a couple capital and achieving our business objectives.”
of years’ time. In addition, contemporary workers Contemporary research
tend to focus on striking an equitable work-family Edwin Bak, Master’s student in Human Resource Not only will you learn to conduct your own research,
balance. When young employees enter the workforce Management but you will also utilize, apply, and reflect on contem-
nowadays, they do not automatically want to work full- porary research in the field of HRM, both fundamental
time because of their family obligations or because of and empirical. In your Master’s thesis, you will be able
other hobbies or responsibilities. Finally, the economic to show that you have amassed sufficient knowledge
situation may restrict opportunities for lifelong of HRM to develop a relevant research question, and
employment. Some workers are simply disinclined to to build a sound theoretical framework supporting
pursue a lifelong career. Instead, lifelong learning is your study hypotheses. Furthermore, you will collect
required, and alternative career patterns such as the empirical data (for example, through a questionnaire
‘boundaryless’ career are evolving. All of these issues survey or interviews) in order to test these hypotheses.
call for innovative approaches to studying and applying Finally, you will answer your research question based
Human Resource Management tools and models. on your data, and you will translate this conclusion
into both theoretical and practical implications.

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Your The Master’s specialization in
programme Human Resource Management is Having successfully completed the Master’s
in a nutshell structured around three important specialization in Human Resource Management, you
human resource processes and will enter the job market as a graduate in Business
contemporary issues: Administration with a specialist
A job as… knowledge of human resource
1. Employee commitment and a HRM manager, performance and development.
development, or the extent to which a consultant, As such, you will be extremely
employees feel committed to their employer, to their a management well qualified to pursue a
own performance and to the development of their trainee… career in HRM, but many other
own job-related knowledge and skills (this topic is opportunities will also be open
discussed in the Careers & Organizations course). to you, for example in general
management or consultancy.
2. Managing and controlling performance, or the HRM- The Master’s specialization in HRM adds a critical,
related models and tools involved in measuring and contemporary, and (most importantly) comparative
managing employee performance in organizations component to your general Business Administration
(this is the focus of the Performance Management & knowledge and skills. In other words, after finishing
Control course). this Master’s specialization, you will be able to
understand and manage the very heart of an
“The HRM programme is an exciting challenge that covers 3. Managing organizational diversity, which is an issue “In my line of work, I am dealing with people all the time. The organization: its human resources.
all aspects of human resources. It is great to receive expert many of today’s employers and employees are dealing skills I obtained during my studies have benefited me in many
guidance from thesis supervisors who are true specialists with (the Diversity in Organizations course focuses on ways. This programme has taught me valuable lessons and
in their field. The support and information they provide is this contemporary HRM theme). has given me the insight to answer essential questions, when
invaluable when it comes to completing your Master’s thesis.” should I lead, when should I follow, how should I respond
Another important element of this study programme when people are not motivated? It’s all about bringing out
Marieke Huijskens, Master’s student of is the Master’s thesis, which enables you to apply the best in people.”
Human Resource Management what you have learned about HRM (and Business
Administration in general) to an empirical study of an Fouad Gaddur, MSc in Business Administration
HRM-related business issue. Your thesis will be a true with a specialization in HRM
research project for which you will collect quantitative
and/or qualitative data in order to help you answer
your research question on a Human Resource
Management topic.

The programme is divided into six periods. It is worth 60
credits and takes one year to complete. Important programme
components include:

Period 1: Careers & Organizations (6 credits)
Strategy, Control & Design (6 credits)
Period 2: Performance Management & Control (6 credits)
Optional course (6 credits)
Period 3: Ethics (3 credits)
Research Seminar I (3 credits)
Period 4: Diversity in Organizations (6 credits)
Research Seminar II & Start Thesis
(3 + 3 credits)
Period 5: Optional course/ Capita Selecta (6 credits)
Thesis (6 credits)
Period 6: Thesis (6 credits)

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If you would like to know more

Please visit for:

• Detailed programme information
• Admission requirements
• Information on application and registration
• Career perspectives
• Opportunities for majors and minors

Or contact the faculty for more information about the programme:

Study Advisors
Faculty of Economics and Business Administration
Room 2A-22
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
The Netherlands
T +31 (0)20 598 6116

International Student Relations (degree students)
Room 2E-70
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
The Netherlands
T +31 (0)20 598 5585

For general information about VU University Amsterdam
Please phone us at +31 (0)20 598 5000 (Monday – Friday, 9:00 to 17:00).
You may also e-mail us at Read more about VU University
Amsterdam at

No rights may be derived from the contents of this brochure.

Publication: Department of Marketing & Communication, VU University Amsterdam.
Photo cover: Hollandse Hoogte / Goos van der Veen
(Kantoorpersoneel in verlichte kantoren bij avond).

A wider perspective