Purpose Despite the growing belief that multilevel research is necessary to advance HRM understanding, there remains a lack of multilevel thinking – the application of principles for multilevel theory building. The purpose of this paper is to propose a systematic approach for multilevel HRM research. Design/methodology/approach The paper proposes an agenda for multilevel HRM research by addressing three obstacles (concerning questions, theories and methods) that impede advancement in this field. Findings The paper provides an inclusive definition of multilevel HRM research that serves to advance its use, and maps out a multilevel HRM research landscape that captures the various aspects of this concept. The paper identifies unanswered multilevel questions within 16 research domains and develops a systematic approach to tackle these research questions by invoking three relevant theories and methodologies. Practical implications The findings can help HRM academics working on cross-disciplinary and cross-level research problems with a clearly structured approach to what multilevel HRM research is and what steps should be taken in conducting such research. Originality/value The originality lies in the systematic approach that precisely describes multilevel HRM research, and addressing obstacles that inhibit rigorous and relevant multilevel HRM research by highlighting relevant research questions, theories and methodologies.