Tilburg University department Human Resource Studies

Research Program in Human Resource Studies:

A balanced, inclusive, strengths-based approach over the lifespan

Research program leader: Prof. Rob Poell

The department of Human Resource Studies (HRS) offers the largest program in the Netherlands focused on HR-related research. The department is uniquely positioned within a school of social and behavioral sciences. This is different from typical HR research groups both in the Netherlands and internationally, which are usually placed in business or management schools.

The research group is organized in four labs, focusing on the following themes: 1) Aligning strategic HRM, wellbeing and performance; 2) Enhancing worker health and wellbeing over the life span; 3) Learning, development, and the strengths-based approach; and 4) Inclusive HRM (see below for details).

Research staff in the program are multidisciplinary, with a mix of experts in business studies/management/economics, organizational behavior/work & organizational psychology, and learning & development. As of September 2019, the department has three full professors, one part-time professor on an endowed chair, three associate professors, six assistant professors/tenure trackers, three postdoctoral researchers, and seven internal PhD candidates.

The HRS research group is internationally recognized as one of the key centers for HR-related research in mainland Europe and aims to serve as preferred partner for the international community of HR academics. The main focus of the program is on investigating the linkages of HR policies and practices with relevant outcomes for workers and organizations alike, i.e. a balanced approach to HR Studies. Its vision is that in order to understand the outcomes of HR policies and practices it is important to start from the employment relationship between employers and workers, also taking into account that both organizational and worker outcomes are multi-faceted, that multiple organizational actors at multiple levels play a role, and that the employment relationship is embedded within an institutional/societal context. The overall mission of the program is to conduct innovative research that contributes to understanding and improving HR practice.

Due to a number of internal and external developments (growth of the HRS department, increased focus on health and wellbeing in our School through the Herbert Simon Research Institute, societal changes including the aging workforce and the need for a more ‘inclusive’ approach to labor), recently the department has organized its research in four labs each focusing on a core HRS theme building on the expertise of the group. The objective of the program is to develop and test theories and constructs using advanced methods in order to improve our understanding of these four themes:

  1. Aligning strategic HRM, wellbeing and performance: core issue is how organizations can jointly optimize organizational performance and worker wellbeing (e.g., health, happiness, social relations, justice, sustainability, societal wellbeing) through the implementation of HRM policies and practices.
  2. Enhancing worker health and wellbeing over the life span: core issue is how organizations can help individual workers to self-regulate and adapt to (changing) situational (e.g., work contexts and demands) and personal (e.g., life events) circumstances in order to age successfully at work.
  3. Learning, development, and the strengths-based approach: core issue is how organizations can optimally identify, use and develop knowledge, skills, and abilities of workers, building on workers’ strengths and self-initiated/directed learning.
  4. Inclusive HRM: core issue is how organizations can create inclusive workplaces to include all workers (e.g., minorities, people with a disability, refugees, precarious/non-standard workers, etc.).

The most important idea behind the strategy of organizing our research program into these four research labs, coordinated by the linking pins and the program leader, is to further capitalize on each other’s strengths. Researchers with a similar focus work closely together in one of the labs in order to jointly develop research ideas, submit grant proposals, write papers and contribute to societal impact. The research group as a whole meets during the monthly HRS seminar series and PhD/post-doc meetings. Cross-fertilization is furthermore organized in the monthly meetings of the research program leader with the four linking pins of the labs. As a result, researchers also collaborate across labs. It goes
without saying that a lot of our research is conducted in collaboration with researchers from other universities both within the Netherlands and internationally.

(October 2019)