Type of Work

Research Paper

Publication Date



Human Resources (HR) scholarship often frames aligning and supporting firm strategy as a foundational goal for HR executives. Strategic alignment is heralded with enabling better decision making and increasing companies’ chances of success. Yet the literature on HR executives’ alignment with executive strategies often lacks input from the most important source: HR leaders themselves. Drawing conclusions from interviews with six HR executives, this paper illustrates how HR executives view their role within executive leadership, how they attempt to align with firm strategy, and how they cooperate with and challenge other executives as they attempt to work on behalf of employees. While cooperation with executive leadership and alignment with firm strategy is central to HR leadership, this paper reveals the importance of effectively challenging other executives’ notions of success and employee needs. Working as representatives of employees, effectively shaping firm strategy to represent the needs of employees emerges as a vital goal for HR executives, on par with strategy alignment. Often as the sole people-focused voice in the executive team, HR leaders must work not only to align with firm strategy but to challenge cutthroat executive decision making to include and prioritize employee concerns.

Hamilton Areas of Study


Hamilton Sponsoring Organization

Levitt Public Affairs Center

Hamilton Scholarship Series

Levitt Winter Research Fellowship

Hamilton Faculty Advisor

Joel Winkelman