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customer‐oriented human resource management

Dave Ulrich


Most human resource (HR) practices are created to affect the behavior of employees within a firm. For example, hiring practices are created to improve the competence of employees. Customer‐oriented human resource management (HRM) goes a step beyond by shifting the focus from the firm to the value chain. A value chain defines the supplier–firm–customer relationship. In a retail store, the value chain would be the producer, the retailer, and the buyer. For example, Whirlpool produces washing machines, Sears sells them, and customers buy them. Every firm may be conceived as a series of value‐chain relationships. When HR practices focus on the value chain, they remove boundaries between the firm and its suppliers and customers ( Ashkenas et al., 1995 ). The purpose of using HR practices across the value chain is to create a common mindset or culture between firms and customers. An industry culture creates commitment across firms and increases shared interests ( Ulrich, 1989 ). Two maxims capture the shift toward customer‐oriented HR. First, HR is shifting from the assumption that people are our most important asset to the assumption that people are our customers' most important asset. The shift focuses on how customers think about and use people. Second, HR is shifting from believing that we want to be the employer of choice to believing that we want to be the employer of choice of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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