Because all organizations are different, all HR strategies are different. There is no such thing as a standard strategy, and research into HR strategy conducted by Armstrong and Long (1994) and Armstrong and Baron (2002) revealed many variations.
HR strategies may not be deliberate. It was pointed out by Mintzberg (1987: 67) that: ‘An organization can have a pattern (a realized strategy) without knowing it, let alone making it explicit’. He produced the principle of ‘emergent strategy’, stating that: ‘A realized strategy can emerge in response to an evolving situation’ (ibid: 68). As Mintzberg et al (1988) suggested, strategies can simply exist in the ‘collective minds’ of the people on whom they make an impact. The fact that they have not been articulated may not matter as long as people in the organization share the same perspective through their intentions or their actions.
Mintzberg’s concept of ‘emergent strategy’ rings true, but Grant (1998) has argued that the Mintzberg approach, which downplays the role of systematic analysis and emphasizes the role of intuition and vision, fails to provide a clear basis for reasoned choices. However, Mintzberg (1987: 69) accepted that ‘purely emergent strategy making precludes control’. He took the realistic position that there is no such thing as a purely deliberate strategy or a purely emergent one, and that ‘deliberate and emergent strategy form the end points of a continuum along which the strategies which are crafted in the real world may be found’ (ibid: 69). Thompson and Strickland (1996:
20) noted that ‘a company’s actual strategy is partly planned and partly reactive to changing circumstances’.