Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines the influence of the senior human resource executive. More specifically, it tests a model which suggests that the influence of the senior human resource executive in corporate level decision making is largely a function of three variables: professional orientation, generalist orientation and the perceived importance of the human resource function.;The research was undertaken for two principal reasons; to try to resolve a difference in the literature as to which orientation would lead to greater influence and to determine what other factors might have a bearing on influence. Given the increased importance of human resource issues it was felt that only through understanding this latter point would it be possible to give meaningful advice to practitioners seeking to enhance their roles and CEO's seeking to ensure the optimum contribution from their human resource functions.;Following the generation of the research model a series of scales were developed to measure the principal variables. The scales were imbedded within a structured interview protocol, designed to allow for the collection of qualitative and quantitative data, which was administered to 27 CEO's. Analysis found no correlation between a professional orientation and influence. There was, however, a significant correlation between influence and both a generalist orientation and the perceived importance of the function. These findings were largely supported by the qualitative data. In addition, considerable support was found for two other variables as indicators of influence. These are the support of the CEO and a credibility factor. Overall CEO's clearly wanted to see more of a generalist orientation. It is noteworthy that, although a professional orientation was the most frequently mentioned criteria for selecting a senior human resource executive, it was a generalist orientation that was correlated with influence.;The research suggests that senior human resource executives in many organizations may have an opportunity to become more influential in corporate level decision making and that an enhanced generalist orientation would increase the likelihood of greater influence. Failure to develop such an orientation could lead to an increasing number of line executives being brought in to run the human resource function.



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