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


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
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To sum up. Any framework should accommodate the fact that e-HRM is a multilevel phenomenon by its very nature. Bondarouk. some initial theoretical. or business-toemployee (“B2E”) (e. e-HRM utilizes information technology in a twofold manner: First. Widely accepted are such terms as virtual HR(M) (e. but also comprises additional technologies like networked ERP-Systems. As the most relevant levels. e. Leaning on these intensions. as well. organizational units and even whole organizations that interact in order to perform HR activities. technology supports actors by partially – and sometimes even completely – substituting for them in executing HR activities. in order to comprehensively embrace relevant aspects. Jin. there are collective actors like groups.20 S. there are some further concepts which obviously refer to the same phenomenon. methodical and topical implications are discussed in order to support a future research program in e-HRM.e. 2003. these further terms undoubtedly direct attention to main characteristics of the same phenomenon but are of somewhat narrower intensions.2. empirical methods employed. e-HRM is additionally open to less developed varieties of technology application.. 2004). is particularly web-orientated. the framework distinguishes between context. 1).g. “Web-based HRM” couples the concept to Internet technologies. while both configuration and consequences may be preceded and moderated by contextual factors (see Fig. “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”. Definition and framework 2. At the outset. 2004). Definition Even though the e-HRM concept is widely used today. i. the shared performing of an application process by a conventional HR department and an applicant via the Internet. e-HRM is open to further relevant actor categories like applicants or consultants. technology serves as a medium with the aim of connection and integration. 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. proposing that the configuration will determine the consequences of e-HRM. Ruël et al.g.1. configuration and consequences of e-HRM.. In short. 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. Based on the review. Thus. The term “e-HRM” is used within this paper irrespective of possible rights on the part of Watson Wyatt.. 1 . Huang. information technology serves additionally as a tool for task fulfillment. The planning aspect accentuates the systematic and anticipated way of applying information technology. The consideration of individual and collective actors takes into account that e-HRM is a multilevel phenomenon. e-HRM. In contrast. 2. web-based HR(M) (e. 1998). Framework At the current stage of research. The consultancy Watson Wyatt Worldwide has gained legal protection of the term “eHR” as a trademark. 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. Lepak & Snell. & Looise.. Beside e-HR(M). “business-to-employee” reduces the concept to the internal actor categories of “business” (presumably line managers and HR professionals) and “employees”. & Yang. 2004) are rather general and emphasize the Internet-supported way of performing HR policies and/or activities.g. Hence. Ruël. the chosen levels of analysis. the following definition of e-HRM can be specified: e-HRM is the (planning. 2. The few detectable definitions (Lengnick-Hall & Moritz. Second. Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 analyzes the theories used. Individual actors are interacting in groups within organizations that interact with other organizations. 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. besides individual actors.1 there are hardly any explicit definitions. the examined topics and the findings determined. Finally. This concept highlights several crucial aspects of e-HRM. the e-HRM term is used.g.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

to external professional associations (Gardner et al. 2004. Relational consequences refer to the new and extended possibilities of interactions between actors. e-HRM seems to be a means to standardize HR and to overcome hurdles of different cultures and languages (Hannon et al. In addition. Strohmeier / Human Resource Management Review 17 (2007) 19–37 to be difficult to measure and balance. 1998).. as well as topics of a future research program in e-HRM. Tansley 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. produce viable theoretical perspectives to frame these topics. 2005) or at least report an improvement of HR status comprising a clearer profile and a better image (Ruël et al. 3. or at least possesses the potential for.. 2003). and decentralization of executing these policies on the other. Since spatially separated actors can be networked.1. collect meaningful data.g. there are mixed findings and some isolated hints that e-HRM may contribute to a more strategic role of HRM.5. 2004). the possible application of three groups of existing theories can and should be checked: First. 4. 3. The following section tries to elaborate on these demands by discussing some initial implications concerning crucial theoretical perspectives. as an alternative. 2004). findings of a survey reveal increasing relations between HR professionals since they were able to connect to more professional sources outside the organization. 2004). 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. while robust results that unambiguously evidence persistent transformations are missing. the further . empirical research should identify the key research topics. Additionally. Relational consequences. Firstly. are diverse and there are also hints of shortcomings. the explanation of the relationships between context. leading to heterogeneous networks and. and levels of analysis. 2001). Earlier findings of case studies reveal that IT has not provided a strategy-supporting role of HR despite potentials to do so (Liff. 1997.. one case study reveals an extensive decentralization of executing HR activities by shifting responsibilities to line management and employees. Somewhat opposed. Findings of case studies also expose clearly increased relevance of the HR-department as a flexible and proactive business partner (Ruta. there are clear gaps in effectiveness research concerning specific HR activities beyond e-recruiting. there are several confirmations of far reaching integrative potentials of information technology resulting from relating different actors.6. 2003). 1996..28 S. 1996) and at least partially emphasize the role of HR as a business partner (Teo et al. therefore. other studies demonstrate the potential of IT to move HR towards global integration and to support international strategy (Hannon et al. While findings on the general level show improvements in effectiveness.. and transfer the findings into useful recommendations for practitioners (Stanton & Coovert.4. Tixier. methodical approaches. Without good theory. findings concerning the effectiveness of e-HRM are limited and mixed. Relational consequences.g. Implications for research To address the challenges of e-HRM. Theoretical perspectives The main and most detrimental inadequacy of current research is its primarily non-theoretical character. Thus. 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. In addition... represent a crucial topic. 2004). 4.. Similarly. are for the most part unexamined at present. as e.3. though a crucial aspect of e-HRM. Information technology leads to. a combination of centralization of policies on the one hand. configurations and consequences is a basic task. a grand or integrative multi-level theory of e-HRM currently does not exist. 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.. especially e-recruiting. 2001). Barney & Wright. Ruël et al.5.6. and why such prescriptions will work.. if ever. findings concerning different activities. 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. (global) integration and harmonization of HR activities. Also. In brief. Therefore. Transformational consequences. However. However. seems to be a major relational consequence of e-HRM (Ruël et al.

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

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

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

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

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

121−136.. The use of technologies in the recruiting. screening. 99−120. The deployment of e-learning in UK/European corporate organisations. B. Only a combination of different methods seems to comply with the often conflicting requirements concerning findings that are concurrently in-depth. Kahai. & Wright. reliable and generalizable. International Journal of Selection and Assessment. G. K. Based on the review. to recognize e-HRM as an innovative... Fourth. G. & Grossnickle.. Applicant and recruiter reactions to new technology in selection: A critical review and agenda for future research. European Business Journal.. P. (1998). G. it was possible to identify and summarize various empirical studies from different disciplines. a moderate theoretical pluralism. B.. Human Resource Management. 31−46. K.. C. F. Joy. How Fortune 500 companies are using electronic resume management systems.34 S. J. (2003). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Dietz.. However. unpublished research papers. E-Leadership: Implications for theory. However. the framework used for systematizing current and future topics is normative. 113−120. 43(2/3). Human Resource Management. By reviewing the initial research and discussing major implications. 11(2/3). Second. since not based on proper theoretical foundations. some major implications for future advancement in e-HRM research could be derived. proactive. Based on a definition and a first framework. 105−115. Braddy.. M. longer-term. Chapman. 12−14.. Boselie. On becoming a strategic partner: The role of human resources in gaining competitive advantage. 8−19. Conclusion This paper aimed at a review of current research on e-HRM and the derivation of implications for future approaches. W. the outlined body of knowledge concentrates on several focal points and is patchy at present. & Smart. e-HR cuts costs. & Boon. 37(1). e-HRM is a new and intriguing field of research at the intersection of human resource management and information systems. K. Avolio. In order to avoid proliferation. First. N. Barney. and practice. Anonymous. (1998). 67−94. future work using further specific and synoptic studies will benefit from systematically covering context. & Michaelis. E. (2003). K. 30(6). 15(3). By means of a general and plain outline. Thompson. given the patchiness of current topics. pluralism again seems to be appropriate.. There are also limitations of this paper. i.. Beamish. Leadership Quarterly. an appropriate theory for comprehensively framing e-HRM is missing at present. DeTienne. K. 677−693. C. however. Acknowledgement I would like to thank the editors and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version of the paper. (2005). (2004). 17(1). 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