Does HRM really matter in bringing about strategic change? Comparative action research in ten European steel firms

J.F. den Hertog, A.T.M. van Iterson*, Ch. Mari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper discusses the contribution of human resource management to major transformations in ten European steel companies during the 1990s, and is based on an exchange program organized by the European Confederation of Iron and Steel Industries (Eurofer). The study focuses on three aspects of HRM's contribution to strategic change: (1) the context in which change was embedded, (2) the implementation process of the change, and (3) the communication strategies used by management to create trustworthiness regarding the change process. Some firms proved to be supporters of "long marches" (incremental change over an extended period of time), while others were rather involved in "short strokes" (rapid overall change) (cf. [Kanter, R. M., Stein, B. A. and Jick, T. D. (1992). The challenge of organizational change. Free Press, New York]). We conclude that HRM has played a role as strategic partner in most steel companies, particularly those who made short strokes, while also a trend towards closer integration of HRM with line management became evident, primarily in those firms taking tong marches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-24
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Management Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • Human resources management
  • Strategic change management
  • Communication, rhetoric and trust building
  • European steel industry

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