HR strategies provide a framework within which is set out what the organization is proposing to do about people management generally or in particular areas of HRM. Tyson and Witcher (1994: 21) defined HR strategies as ‘… the intentions and plans for using human resources to achieve business objectives’. HR strategies set out aspirations that have to be expressed as intentions, which then in turn have to be converted into actions. The strategies may be defined formally as part of a strategic human resource management process, which leads to the development of overall or specific HR strategies as considered in this chapter for implementation by HR and, vitally, line managers.
However, it should be remembered that HR strategies, like any other aspects of business strategy, can come into existence through an emergent, evolutionary and possibly unarticulated process influenced by the business strategy as it develops and changes in the internal and external environment. Pettigrew and Whipp (1991: 30) emphasized that strategy ‘… far from being a straightforward, rational phenomenon, is in fact interpreted by managers according to their own frame of reference, their particular motivations and information’.