White Paper: Agile human resource management: A systematic mapping study

Abstract

Agile HR is well-established in practice and has emerged as an exciting research area in the last 4 years. However, no comprehensive review of the literature on this subject has been conducted. The aim of this paper is to map the current state of agile HR research. We conducted a systematic mapping study and found 86 relevant primary studies. Our findings are organised into seven research topics that fall into two major themes: Agile for HR; how the HR function adopts agile practices, and HR for Agile; how the HR function supports an agile organisation. The HR for Agile theme is more mature, with more research papers, proposed models, and frameworks. We also review the types of publications, venues, and research methods. The body of publications is fragmented and diverse, with most articles published after 2019, primarily in multidisciplinary journals, incorporating a mix of theoretical and empirical approaches.

The paper contributes a thematic analysis of research topics, a comparison of traditional with agile HR practices, a list of theories and models used, a new definition of agile HR, research gaps in the literature, and an agenda for future research. Contributions to practice include findings that agile HR practices benefit organisations, that agile talent acquisition facilitates organisational agility, and that HR can transition to agility by making small changes to their practices rather than undergoing radical change. More academic work needs to be done on agile HR to improve conceptual clarity, theory building and development, understanding benefits and value for the business, identifying challenges, understanding contextual factors, and critically exploring outcomes.


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Authors

Agile Research Network

Agile Research Network

The Agile Research Network (ARN) is a collaboration between researchers at two UK universities at the forefront of investigating agile methodologies. The Open University (OU) has a strong research record in using agile methods in practice. The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has a strong record of linking research, teaching and practice through industry-based research and practitioner-focussed Masters and doctoral programmes. ARN is funded through a number of sources; currently, it is funded by the two university members and the Agile Business Consortium.
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agileresearchnetwork.org
Agile Business Consortium

Agile Business Consortium

The Agile Business Consortium is the professional body for business agility. We’re all about community – whether you’re a multinational working through a large-scale transformation, a new start-up, or a contractor, we can support you to achieve more, to grow more, and to build your business agility. As a global not-for-profit organisation that’s been around for over 25 years, our knowledge and experience around agile competencies and behaviours can offer you the guidance you need to reach your agility goals. Together with our partners, we create and share agile research, case studies, resources and tools that help you compete in today’s uncertain world. A registered not-for-profit, we’re the world’s longest-standing agile-orientated organisation. We’re the brains behind AgilePM®, AgileBA®, AgilePgM®, AgilePfM™ and AgileDS™. Based in the UK, we have members in over 30 countries around the world.

 

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