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We are passionate about Human Resources, what HR can do and what HR’s role can be in organisations.  But that doesn’t mean we like everything about HR or everyone who calls themselves an HR professional.

Take American academics.

We get the need for academics big time.  There’s little enough research on HR as a function, the role that HR can play and what HR factors lead to successful (and less successful) organisations.  At CourageousHR we pursue research like big game hunters because it gives out clients (and you) the credibility that a young function like HR desperately needs.  It also puts the continual survey results trotted out by self serving consultancies into perspective.

The trouble is, this whole field is dominated by American academics.  We know they do good stuff.  They are inspirational to listen to and their books are easy to read.  Without their passion and words a whole generation of HR professionals wouldn’t have anywhere to turn for help or dreams to keep them going during the tough times.

But despite the odd word to the contrary, they base their research on US companies (or worse, the global views of US multinationals) and on self reporting from senior HR practioners.  The worst of them actually never submit their research to academic scrutiny but simply talk about the hundreds of interviews they’ve done and the thousands of survey reports they’ve received.

We know that the practice of HR is different around the world – the organisational and cultural settings, its history and drivers.  We need more research that comes from a non-US perspective.

We also know that academic research isn’t often practical.  The trouble with easy-to-read books is that while they can be inspirational, the real world of organisations and HR is never that black and white.  HR Transformation cannot be achieved in four easy steps!

Our plea to US academics is therefore to keep doing what you’re doing but be honest about your research, its implications and to think about the international context.  To other academics, come join the party – it’s an open field where both careers and reputations can be made.