Publication Type

PhD Dissertation

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In recent years, interest in human capital as a strategic resource of the firm has created new streams of research oriented on the value of strategic human resource management, high performance work systems, and human capital as resource of the firm for competitive advantage. The Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) serves as the steward of human capital of the firm, yet little is known about the nature and impact of this critical role that is charged with building strategic advantage with the human capital resources of the firm. Over the past decade the CHRO has risen to take a prominent seat as a part of the Top Management Team (TMT) in firms today. This research consists of three separate studies to further our understanding of the role and impact of the CHRO.

The first study considers the potential antecedents that attribute to this rise through a review of the Standard & Poorís 500 Index companies over a 15 year period. Using a contingency analysis, this sample of 4980 firm-years shows that innovation intensity and human capital intensity of the firm are weakly linked to the rise of the CHRO. International complexity is found to have a negative relationship with global CHRO leadership suggesting that geographic complexity leads to more decentralization of human resources practices.

The second study explores the impact of the CHRO consistent with upper-echelon theory that posits firm outcomes to be a reflection of the top leaders. As the steward of human capital of the firm, the CHRO strives to create a great place to work, which is highly linked to firm performance. This study includes firms that have been ranked as a Great Place to Work (GPTW), a proven and consistent index of companies has been in place since 1998 sponsored by the Great Place to Work Initiative \342\204\242. I capture the GPTW firm rankings from 2000 to 2014 and create a matched sample for a total of 248 unique firms with a total of 3968 firm-years of analysis. The results show a clear link between the CHRO level and ranking as a Great Place to Work. This is the first such study that provides a clear link between the CHRO and a firm-level outcome.

The third portion of this thesis provides a review of the characteristics and role of the CHRO over the 15 year period. A review of the human capital of the CHROís over time highlights a dramatic shift in the gender balance to 51% female for the first time in 2014. The low tenure and frequent movement of the CHRO across the S&P500 sample raises questions concerning the careers in the profession as well as the ability for CHROís to apply firm-specific knowledge for competitive advantage.

This study is the first to uncover a variety of insights related to the CHRO as the steward of human capital of the firm. Limitations, new research questions and implications for practice, and future research streams are discussed.


human resource management, human capital resource, TMT, chief human resource officer, functional top management team, CHRO

Degree Awarded

PhD in Business (General Management)


Human Resources Management



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Singapore Management University

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.