Exploring the central characteristics of HR shared services: evidence from a critical case study in the Netherlands

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Human resource shared service centers (HR SSCs) are foreseen as improving HR service delivery for their end-users: employees, line managers and decentralized HR professionals. Although the concept expects the benefits of HR SSCs to come from centralizing knowledge and decentralizing the control exercised over an HR SSC, research into these two fundamental shared service characteristics is scarce. The purpose of this research is therefore to explore whether resource bundling, combined with business unit control over an HR SSC, is sufficient to improve HR service delivery to its end-users. Using concepts from intellectual capital and agency theory, we find that the combination of these two characteristics of shared services is not sufficient to improve HR service delivery. Rather, we suggest that (1) HR SSCs have to update the knowledge and skills of their staff; (2) end-users have to effectively maintain the codified knowledge centralized in the HR SSC; and (3) business units and the HR SSC need to collaborate in order for the benefits of an HR shared service to be realized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-513
JournalInternational journal of human resource management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2012



  • IR-81146
  • METIS-287125

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