Embracing digitalization in HR: theory and practice of HR Analytics

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Management and International Business (MIB)
New socio-economic reality and abrupt technological advances gave an impetus to the rapid development of the business analytics field. While functions like marketing and finance have been fast to embrace analytics, HR has been lagging behind for a long time. Yet, recently the new phenomenon of HR Analytics has emerged holding a great promise to improve decision-making on people matters, boost productivity and profitability of organizations and elevate the role of the HR function. Despite these impressive benefits, the adoption of the practice by companies has been slow and the topic has not drawn much attention from the research community. However, given all the gains resulting from the use of the innovative practice, HR Analytics represents an important topic to explore, as a better understanding of the practice and the ways it can be applied within an organizational context can enable companies to move forward with their analytics initiatives in HR. Thus, this thesis aims to elevate and amplify knowledge of the HR Analytics phenomenon and its practical application. In particular, it focuses on exploring enablers, moderators, elements and outcomes of the practice to obtain a holistic view on the phenomenon. The multiple-case design is used to study HR Analytics in the context of three case companies. The case companies are represented by large international organizations at different levels of HR Analytics maturity. The study relies on the data collected from multiple sources including exploratory interviews, case interviews, documents derived from the case companies and open sources. The findings of this study indicate that even though the application of HR Analytics is contingent upon the context, within which it is applied, there are general aspects pertaining to the practice that are common across the case companies. The study, for instance, shows that three groups of moderating factors – knowledge, skills, and attitudes of HR professionals, technological and organizational – identified through the literature review affect the application of HR Analytics across all the three cases. These common grounds in HR Analytics application represent a great learning opportunity for researchers and organizations alike. Considering general paucity of knowledge related to the HR Analytics phenomenon, there are many directions, in which the future research on the topic could go. In regard to the present study, the future research can focus on exploring key aspects related to HR Analytics practice in more detail separately or as a group in line with the framework developed within this thesis.
Thesis advisor
Sele, Kathrin
HR analytics, people analytics, workforce analytics, HR metrics, strategic human resource management
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