Strategic Human Resource Management

The SHRM chair focuses on social and scientific issues centred on two cores themes: SHRM & public service performance and HRM of public issues.

Prof. Paul Boselie and prof. Eva Knies are the Chairs of this research group.


  • SHRM & public service performance
  • HRM of public issues
  • Theoretical and methodological perspectives
  • Collaboration
  • Research Staff

SHRM & public service performance

The research conducted on this theme focuses on the contribution of SHRM to the performance of public service providers, the role of managers in implementing HRM, the motivation of staff in public organisations and the issues and dilemmas regarding the performance of organisations in the public and semi-public sectors, including government organisations and organisations in the healthcare and education sectors.

Performance is defined multidimensionally in line with the Harvard model, and consists of organisational effectiveness, and employee and social well-being. The SHRM & public service performance researchers work together with other parties within the Utrecht University Professional Performance research focus area.

Research and projects

  • VENI research Capturing the nature of public value creation (Eva Knies);
  • Strategic human resource management – a balanced approach (Paul Boselie), textbook, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, second edition;
  • PhD research projects on people management by team leaders in secondary education (Julia Penning De Vries); people management and professionals in the public sector: the interaction between management and professional guidance (Renée Vermeulen); implementation of lean management in the healthcare sector and the role of managers (Robert van Kleeff); outsourcing and contracting court staff and the impact on organisational performance, employee well-being, and the risk of scandals (Arvie Purnomo); HR analytics and measuring the added value of HRM at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Michèlle van Wijk);
  • Special issue in the International Journal of HRM themed around SHRM & public sector performance (2018) (guest editors: Eva Knies, Paul Boselie, Julian Gould-Williams and Wouter Vandenabeele);
  • Annual seminar on People Management in education, with participants from science and professional practice in collaboration with HR Studies, Tilburg University (the organisers included Julia Penning de Vries, Peter Leisink and Eva Knies);
  • Research project on the professionalisation of municipal reintegration services and the role of HRM policy and practices (Rik van Berkel, in collaboration with Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and Hanze University of Applied Sciences).

HRM of public issues

The research conducted under this theme focuses on the role of HRM in public and private organisations in dealing with issues relating to work and labour force participation.

This core theme is divided into two sub-themes: (1) sustainable employability and managing demographic diversity (gender, age, ethnic origin); and (2) social and human resource policy aimed at vulnerable employees (including long-term unemployed, unskilled workers, people with a disability, flexible employees) and self-employed workers (zzp’ers).

Researchers are investigating the management of the sustainable employability of professionals, including lecturers, teachers, doctors and nurses, and work with other parties within the Utrecht University Professional Performance research focus area. The researchers engaged in HRM of public issues work together with other researchers in the Future of Work hub under the Utrecht University strategic research theme Institutions for Open Societies.

Their main focus is on the sustainable employability of individual employees in interaction with the organisation or organisational environment. They are also looking at vulnerable employee groups and the role employers and employer networks can play in offering employees sustainable employment opportunities.

Research and projects

  • International comparative research in Norway and the Netherlands into the (sustainable) employability of people with a distance to the labour market in small and medium-sized enterprises: ENGAGE. (Rosan Haenraets and Rik van Berkel)
  • Research commissioned by the GAK Institute 'Samen aan het Werk' (Together at Work) into effective and supported behavioural change by employers in order to hire more people with a disability. (Led by Lars Tummers, with Rik van Berkel).
  • PhD research on the sustainable employability of medical specialists (Evelien van Leeuwen); on the transition of MBO students to the labour market (Corine Buers,); on sustainable employment among professionals – an international perspective (Ahmad Zakariya); on sustainable employability and job crafting at banks (Mandy Brouwer); on Employer Engagement (Laura van Os);
  • Research under the Dutch National Research Agenda on promoting labour force participation by young disabled people and the role of employers (Rik van Berkel and Silvia Rossetti, in collaboration with Tilburg University);
  • Special issue in the Human Resource Management Journal themed around Employer Engagement (2018) (guest editors Rik van Berkel and Paul Boselie);
  • Special issue in the International Journal of Human Resource Management themed around sustainable employability (2019/2020) (guest editors Jasmijn van Harten and Eva Knies);
  • Special issue in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour themed around career sustainability (2019/2020) (guest editor Mandy van der Velde).

Theoretical and methodological perspectives

Various theories are applied in the research conducted (including AMO theory, resource-based view, institutional theory, social exchange theory, attribution theory, motivation theory, job demands-resources theory and leadership theory), and both qualitative and quantitative methods are used.

We are increasingly using (a) a mixed method design and (b) a multi-actor perspective, which uses input from various types of actors, including employees, managers, HR professionals and other relevant stakeholders.


Researchers engaged in the SHRM core themes collaborate with partners in the local community and in professional practice, including the Secondary Education Council (HRM in secondary education), UMCU (HRM in hospitals), the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (HRM within central government) and the 'Normaalste Zaak', a network of organisations whose activities focus on work for vulnerable workers.

In addition, we work strategically with other research institutes and groups within and outside Utrecht University. Moreover, we have a strategic connection with HR Studies at Tilburg University, with Aarhus University Denmark and, through the Dutch HRM Network, with ten affiliated Flemish and Dutch universities that offer a Master's programme in HRM and are engaged in HRM research.

Research Staff