Practitioner research for the professionalization of human resources practice: empirical data from the Netherlands

Luca Lopes De Leao Laguna, Rob Poell, Martha Meerman
  • Human Resource Development International, June 2018, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/13678868.2018.1483150

Practitioner research for the professionalization of HR-practice. What and how.

What is it about?

Despite the growing interest in and literature regarding practitioner research in human resources (HR), not much is known about the factors that play a role in the actual practice by HR practitioners. This explorative study gains empirical insight into the use and quality of and the forces that drive or hinder practitioner research in HR practice. Our findings show that HR-professionals are more or less involved in HR-related practitioner research, but the quality and usability of that research can be improved. We report several causes and influencing factors. Our findings complement previous research on evidence-based HR and other practitioner research approaches and provide new insights. We provide some starting-points to improve the use and quality of practitioner research in HR.

Why is it important?

Practitioner research can be a powerful learning instrument and is the only working practice that can provide insight in the effect and effectiveness of HR-practice in the local context of the organization and working practice of the HR-professional. This is important, because HR policy and practice influences the success of the organization and, at least as important, the working lives of people. Our research shows that, to gain advantage from HR practitioner research, the quality and use of practitioner research in HR-practice needs to be improved.


Luca Lopes de Leao Laguna
Amsterdam University of Applied Science

I hope this article helps HR practitioners and educators consider practitioner research as an important strategy to improve HR practice and professionalization. Because research is not abstract or complex and only performed by researchers at universities but an effective strategy to learn about your own professional practice, about what works and what doesn't and why. It can help to gain understanding in how and why HR-policy and practice advantages or disadvantages different stakeholders in and outside the organization. I hope this article forms a fresh and meaningful contribution to the ongoing discussion about 'the added value' of HR. More than anything else, and if nothing else, I hope you find this article thought-provoking.

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